Dark Crisis: The Dark Army is the next entry in the current Dark Crisis event. Here it focuses less on the major players and world ending battle happening in the main titles, to a smaller team intent on figuring out a way to stop Pariah’s Dark Army.
On the whole, The Dark Army is a pretty self contained story. It seems set in the time frame somewhere between issues #5 or #6 of the main Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths titles, and sets its own characters up to show back up in the next major issue.
The focus of this book is on Damian and his hastily gathered team consisting of Power Girl, Sideways, Dr. Light, and Red Canary. He’s gathered them because they can be spared temporarily from the main fight to help him enact his plan to stop the Dark Army altogether. What is that plan you might ask? That’s an excellent question. The plan itself is never clearly explained, though you could argue that the issue is essentially one big “show don’t tell” of the plan. Which I’m fine with, I don’t mind actually seeing the plan play out instead of being told later just what happened. Though, I wish it felt like it had more substance.
While I like the idea of trying to find the source of Pariah’s chains he’s used to bind his army, we don’t get a whole lot of explanation on just how Damian plans to do that beyond following energy to a ‘source’. This is done through some universe jumping as they try to triangulate the right location. We also don’t really get a great explanation of what he plans to do when he finds it.
The issue also spends large portions of its time explaining the multiverses and rehashing just how totally and completely apocalyptic everything happening to the heroes is. This is done in the form of cluing Red Canary in on current events. She herself seems more out of her depth lore wise than she should be, especially since she chose to join the fight against the Dark Army. That said, if you’re coming into this book having skipped portions of the others, this information might be useful, but it also feels a bit like padding to give us a little more time with the characters and fill in the pages.
Speaking of spending time with the characters, that’s something I wasn’t really a fan of. I don’t necessarily mind seeing these characters together, but it falls into the trap of a lot of ensemble books I’ve had to review in the past: Too much bickering between team members. Especially between Damian and Power Girl.
I love Damian, I do. But I hate it when he’s forced into any team outside his own book because he’s always written as the biggest jerk in the room, and frankly by now he should be allowed to be beyond that. Power Girl in particular spends a lot of time complaining about his attitude, and even stopping their whole adventure to insist he say please. It’s played off to be funny, but I’m never a fan of narratives that try to create humor out of conflict between team members. Besides, they’re also in the middle of a multi-universe ending event and frankly there’s not a ton of time for politeness. Spending so much page time complaining about manners, and having Damian be overly rude to the rest of the cast really only serves to bring down the narrative as a whole.
Before I get into aspects I really enjoyed, I also want to touch on the art. This book has two artists on it, Freddie E. Williams II and Jack Herbert, and while they do a good job on the larger fight scenes and set pieces, the difference between the two is so stark it’s distracting. Particularly in how the characters are represented. Damian for instance, goes from looking like a fairly short, round faced teenage hero, to a muscled grown adult in the span of a page, then back again as artists swap duties between sections of the book. You can see this stark difference in the panel above, and the earlier one I shared with Power Girl and Damian. It’s enough of a difference to throw me out of the book, and distract my reading. All the characters suffer from this issue of style differences to some degree, and it creates dissonance in the book where coherence would have worked much better.
Problems with the issue aside, I do think it does work towards progressing the overall plot and introducing some interesting elements to help solve problems in the main title. While Damian’s quest obviously hits some road bumps, and his plan to figure out how to control the chains of the Dark Army doesn’t totally pan out, we do learn a little more about the army, and how to possibly resolve the issue of various characters being controlled by these chains.
Dr. Light in particular is a character I can see playing a bigger role in the remaining parts of this event. Her ability to effectively deal with the Shadow Demons plays a large role in this issue, and by the end of the issue she becomes a character that could be a force to be reckoned with against the Dark Army. We also get the return of a few more heroes to help bolster the fight back with everyone else facing off against Deathstroke and the other villains when they return from their quest.
Still, I can’t help but go back to the feeling that this book could probably be skipped entirely. Yes it’s a fun little jaunt through a couple realities featuring a ragtag cast. And yes it does introduce a way to stop the Dark Army, but it doesn’t do more than that. And without knowing just how Dr. Light’s newfound abilities might come into play later on, it’s hard to say how relevant this title will be to the rest of the series as a whole.
- You’re going through the whole Dark Crisis Checklist
- Side stories that help bolster the main plot are your thing
- The team composition of Robin, Power Girl, Sideways, Dr. Light, and Red Canary appeals to you
This very much feels like a side story. From the character selection, to the plot, and even the presumed relevance to the overall event this book is generally a take it or leave it kind of title. The adventure doesn’t progress the plot forward very far, though it does add some elements into play that could be useful as the event nears its ending. e Dr. Fate’s new abilities in particular stand to play a larger role in the remaining titles of the event, but for the price I can’t confidently say this is a must read during this event.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.