Friday, October 7, 2022

Review: Dark Crisis On Infinite Earths #5

Dark Crisis On Infinite Earths #5 came out this week and I have to say there are some great moments in this book. But I don't know if I quite understand everything that is going on.

Joshua Williamson continues to really plumb the depths of the DCU in this mega-event and that will always make me happy. We saw Body Doubles in a past issue. In this one we see Sideways. So anytime I get the breadth of the DCU I am happy. 

And we also see Williamson leaning into some DC history here. This whole series has been a bit meta with the Pariah enslaving the big bads from prior universal events as his lieutenant. So seeing Kingdom Come images again homaged works well. Gar Logan returning from his injuries with an eyepatch is interesting to me given his long history an enmity with Deathstroke. We also, finally, get the return of the JL albeit in their dream versions. All that works.

But how Pariah is doing all this is still a bit unclear to me. How he corrupted the Great Darkness doesn't make a lot of sense, even from a comic book science viewpoint. And all the stuff about heroes being tied to dream planets and therefore dead but not dead seems weird. I also don't know why everything hinges on Deathstroke? Is it because he is a linchpin or is it because Pariah has made him one.

Daniel Sampere's art is just gorgeous throughout. His battle sequences are gritty. His splash pages work on the 'big moments deserve big art' scale. And his more cosmic splashes are really lush. He is making all this work visually. 

On to the book.

Last issue ended with corrupted villains fighting the Legion of Doom and Black Adam. 

In the middle of the villain-on-villain brawl, a squad of heroes pops in courtesy of Sideways teleportation powers. The heroes grab Black Adam and beat a hasty retreat. This isn't an army of heroes. It's an espionage squad.

I include this panel just to show Kara was part of this invasion force and blasts Sinestro with her heat vision. Supergirl has had a relatively small role here.

Meanwhile, Pariah is gleeful that the infinite Earths are back.

He doesn't understand why the Green Lanterns are trying to stop him. Why resist adding more universes? (It sounds a bit like Hal Jordan in Zero Hour!)

But he also seems completely unhinged, talking to the Great Darkness. And hoping the JL returns because he needs them to for his plan. Please tuck this away. He wants the JL to return on this page.

Meanwhile, Hal and Barry are out there rescuing the JLers from their delusional world.

First up is Batman. In his dream world, Batman has all the contingencies down including a Speed Force drainer. 

Somehow the physical walls of the prison world are fading so Hal can manifest his ring again. (I don't know if I follow the dialogue that since Batman knew Barry than somehow this world is linked to Bruce and therefore Hal can use his will to conjure the ring.)

What I did like was that the image which rouses Bruce back to his senses is Hal creating an image of the Bat-Family. This is the real world. These are the people Bruce cares for. I thought this was a nice way of showing that the brooding caped crusader still has love in his heart.

Earlier in the issue, Nightwing shook odd the doldrums and became the leader he needed to be. He splits the remaining heroes in half. The JSA and Superman will try and figure out why the Great Darkness is expanding.

In Dark Crisis The Deadly Green (review pending), Jon discovered Pariah's machine from way back in Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 is removed from the Darkness. 

How did it get into the Darkness? Why is it corrupting the Darkness? Is the machine helping Pariah control or manipulate the Darkness? How how how??

I'll remind you, the Great Darkness is supposed to be God's Shadow, the anti-god and anti-light, at least as it was explained in Swamp Thing #50.  So I don't quite understand how this can happen. 

And as I said, I don't really understand how Deathstroke is so key to the ground troops of the Dark Army. When he arrives at the Hall with his evil, chained villains, Nightwing unleashes his own horde. But the point is made over and over. Clear a path to Deathstroke so he can get taken out. Perhaps the corruption of the villains springs from him and so if he is taken out, the villains will regain their right minds? But why?

I don't think I have missed an elegant explanation of this, have I?

Really solid double page spread here by Sampere. Perez-esque.

And now my favorite moment.

When the rescued JLers head to Superman's world, they find Clark quite calm, a sign that he is really angry.

He figured out this was a fake world all along and has realized he can control it. It is sort of an 'off panel' moment but okay. Somehow he drains the place of it's energy and becomes an almost 'Captain Universe' Superman. I love that look. And using his abilities, he has his friends concentrate on the rest of the lost League, bringing them all to Pariah's steps.

But at the same time the League arrives, the infinite Earths begin to explode. Is this coincidence or causation? And when Pariah says the League leaving their worlds means everything will be erased, I was confused. Didn't he want them to reunite a few pages ago?? I don't know if I follow.

And then Pariah says that the League will be erased if they leave this place, somehow tied to their phony worlds. I don't get it.

Wonderful shot here, very reminiscent of the Kingdom Come pic of Superman arriving with his friends. Sampere sizzles here.

But things on Earth-0 are reaching a critical juncture. While Nightwing's heroes bash the bad guys (look at Kara give a mean left uppercut to Vandal Savage), the place must be reaching a Crisis-level juncture. Because Pariah is pulled there.

I think somewhere along the way, I guessed that Pariah would need the energies from the destruction of the central Earth-0 to power everything along. Now he is happy.

And so we seem to get yet another homage to the Superman team page from Kingdom Come. (I think this might be the fourth homage to that page in this series?)

Pariah brings all the big bads to Earth-0 in time to bring about the end of the world and the beginning of the new multiverse.

Whew. That was a lot. 

I liked many of the moments here and have spotlighted my favorites here. But I don't know if I quite truly grasp what is happening. Perhaps that ups the ante? Anything is possible?

The art is just wonderful.

What did you all think?

Overall grade: B


Anonymous said...

Its junk, nicely drawn junk! We are five issues in and utterly confused, things should be getting simpler, not ever more perplexing. I though for a while that losing Mary Marvel in favor of Supergirl would be significant in terms of Black Adam’s centrality to the storyline, but no, basically BA is the same old braying jackass he has always been…he can’t seem to lay a finger on Deathstroke the biggest jobber in the DCU currently, Slade as always, can’t even tie his shoes without massive evil metahuman assistance.
Mary was “wise” to steer clear, Supergirl “equally wise” to restrict herself to a silent series of cameos :)
If this is the latest continuity changer from DC, heaven help us all, more confusion is impending.


Anonymous said...

Marvel Marvel actually does appear in a few panels - I guess now that's she's "back" in her own mini-series, they felt free to include her.

I've read this entire series to date and all the tie-ins, and it's junk. There was a lot of fun to be hand in the fan service of earlier issues, but by now the thrill of that is gone, and the emperor stands now with no clothes. The story does truly make no sense.


Martin Gray said...

Yup, it’s nonsense through and through. I’ve still enjoyed individual bits, though