So I’ve finally sat down at my hotel in New York, New York. Casper and Cam are trying to order food, the rest of the Batman News team are sending their best wishes, and I’m recovering from the jet lag of three flights over thirty hours, which was delayed due to being stuck in customs.
This is actually a good thing, as it puts me in the right mental space to review Dark Crisis #5.
Listen, everyone and their mother knows how I feel about the entire event at this point. There was a moment where I was talking with Casper once I arrived in the city, and he asked the forever pertinent question, “Why is Dark Crisis?” I think I know the answer, but to explain it, I want to start with a few specifics. There are a few lines that stick out to me in particular in this issue, such as this fascinating comment by Mister Terrific:
I want to talk about in particular, because it’s such a beautiful encapsulation of this book’s lack of self-awareness. Your comic is the Crisis, and you’re three issues away from the ending of the story! Why are characters still worried about the threat of a crisis, a concept which is vague at the best of times?
I don’t think it’s too nitpicky a point, either. Like I mentioned in my last review, DC wants the stakes of this book to seem high without putting in much effort to sell it. Sure, infinite earths have been recreated, but it’s had functionally zero effect on any of the characters we care for. Hell, Batman News reader “Just a comic fan” made a great point in last review’s comments: if DC can’t bother exploring the 52 universes Morrison set up in Multiversity, what’s the point of having an infinity of them again?
While a lot of “plot” has happened during the events of this book, there are no real surprises. Pariah has said he wanted to recreate the Infinite Earths and mess up Earth 0, and as of issue #5, he’s still doing it. There are plenty of great stories that aren’t surprising in their plot – Dune spoils itself regularly, moments before the development actually happens – but there’s nothing you get out of this book that you don’t get out of a basic plot summary. The only thing that’s been a little surprising so far was some information expressed about The Great Darkness…
…Which happened in a tie-in. We’re not reviewing The Deadly Green, but if you want a quick summary, I thought it was okay. Like a lot of these stories, John Constantine ends up being the best character just by virtue of standing around.
I continue to enjoy Daniel Sampere’s art, as little comfort as that brings me at this point. There’s a lot of beautiful composition here, and this is a story that’s only getting busier with each passing issue. I also like the cool multiverse redesigns he gave for each member of the Justice League trapped in their own world. Superman’s is my favourite, and it’s so good that I actually won’t spoil it here.
But art can only do so well when it’s beholden to the story. One of the big “reveals” in this book is the return of the dark army we saw in Justice League #75, and it’s the page that concludes the issue. The world is about to experience an assault from all the “big bad”s of the DC Universe… but as an audience, we’ve already seen this before. In the same event, no less! The only difference between this panel and the panels in Justice League #75 is that Deathstroke is now involved – and I really could not care less about Deathstroke.
Also, just for the record: there are only six panels without dialogue in this issue, and four if you also count VFX.
- You appreciate Williamson’s efforts to put the Titans at the centre stage. They’re the main characters of this book, in a lot of ways.
- You’re enjoying the story for scope and scope alone. Not many obscure characters get to feature here, but most of the main players get some time in the spotlight.
- Deathstroke’s mohawk hasn’t turned you off of comics entirely yet.
Earlier, I said I’d answer Casper’s question: “Why is Dark Crisis?”, and I think I have the answer. Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths is the logical endpoint to creeping scale in superhero comics: where in an attempt to be bigger, better and more important than the previous event, it goes too far and loses itself in its own scope. It’s more controlled and contained than something like Death Metal, but it’s also less imaginative. Dark Crisis has been promoted as everything a fan could want, and my biggest worry isn’t that it’s a lie.
My biggest worry is that it’s true.
P.S. The fact that Batman says this about Superman feels like a wild mischaracterization, but that’s just me. This didn’t fit in the rest of the review, I just wanted to point it out.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.
Author’s Twitter: @ObnoxiousFinch