[SPOILER WARNING: This review will spoil the entirety of Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths.]
Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 is the final issue in what began as the Dark Crisis event – concluding every story thread that began with Infinite Frontier, along with establishing new setup for the tales to come. Written by Joshua Williamson and with a sea of illustrators, our heroes face Deathstroke, powered by the energies of a cosmic phenomenon known as “The Great Darkness”. As he desperately tries one final bid to destroy the next generation of DC, superheroes old and new must fight him and his forces, while simultaneously trying to balance the new and unstable multiverse of infinite earths.
…For those of you who have read my reviews, you know I don’t normally begin them like this. While not a bad way to start reviews by any means, I tend to enjoy beginning on a personal note. Whether that be an analogy or a joke, I think it’s a fun way to set the tone of the article before the critique has even began.
Here, however, it’s not necessary. Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 is little more than its summary: what you see is what you get.
Honestly, I’ve come to accept this at this point. Why should I waste time being mad about it? Functionally, this comic has done exactly what it wants to do. In a lot of ways, it’s foolish to assume anything else – especially when that’s been the case this entire event so far.
From the moment the Justice League were “killed off”, Williamson has pushed Dark Crisis as a story about legacy. What does it mean for the next generation to fight for their place at the table? Who wants to push back against their rise, and why? For me, I pose a third question: “who is this book for?”
The fight for legacy heroes to be centre stage has been a long one on an editorial level, sure – but the book certainly isn’t for editors. The easy answer is “the fans”; but fans are fickle, and you’ll find they like one thing as inexplicably as they dislike the other (myself included). Then, perhaps, the story is for everyone? Maybe it’s about change, and the need for everyone to accept it – be it fan or editor, be it newcomer or old soul. That makes sense to me.
Or it would.
But this is the only change that Dark Crisis makes. Ignore the restoration of the Infinite Earths – DC couldn’t even handle 52, and that didn’t stop them from making Elseworlds anyway. The end of Dark Crisis marks the end of the Justice League in its current form, and Nightwing is offered the chance to lead it himself.
Great! Cool. I like that. No complaints here – I’ve been hoping Dick gets to lead the team for some time, now. But it’s complete and utter fluff. The Justice League hasn’t been relevant since Scott Snyder and James Tynion’s run was abruptly cut off. I would know: I’ve been reviewing every issue of that book since. You don’t need a Crisis to announce you’re rebooting the team – it’s happened about fifty times already. Realistically, this entire event could have been an email.
No, I know what this book really is. Above all else, Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths is a dispenser of plot. Story is secondary when compared to the plot: that supreme thing that gets your name on every DC wiki page until the end of time. This is the book where Nightwing becomes savior of the multiverse, where Doctor Light gets a cosmic power boost, where Deathstroke has his last stand, where Pariah finally dies. Sure, there’s not a lot of meaning to the events in Dark Crisis, but a lot of stuff happens! That’s what really matters here. If you’re a fan of plot – where every character gets a moment to be cool, and the stakes have never been higher – then, by virtue of its very existence, this is exactly the book for you.
I wish I could say the visuals help support the book in its final issue, but I can’t. Well-illustrated as it may be – and Sampere’s pencils are very proficient on a technical level – I find everything displayed to be very generic. The final battle takes place in the burning ruins of the Hall of Justice, every good guy and bad guy fighting to shove their fists in the other’s face. It’s not a particularly interesting location for the final battle, with most of the backgrounds amounting to little more than an orange glow.
I don’t blame any one person for this, though: making a so-so final battle is a group effort. Williamson could have picked a more original location, for one! This is not the first event to end with a final battle outside the Hall of Justice, with Snyder’s JL run having done it two years ago in 2020. Doesn’t help that there’s a redundant line of dialogue every other panel, but we’re well used to that by now.
Sampere’s only working with what he’s being presented with – and he’s already busy illustrating the entire DC cast in every other panel. Colourist Alejandro Sānchez clearly knows how to make these characters pop, but you’re only able to make things so interesting when you’re covering the same characters in the same battle for two consecutive issues. There is one moment where I felt the art was able to shine through! That’s the following splash page, where Black Adam gives the heroes of DC a power boost, and we get to see them shine with the power of the Wizard coursing through their veins.
For the record, this is relevant for exactly three panels.
The art in the concluding pages is hit and miss, with a slew of different illustrators tackling a few pages each. It’s fine enough, but the only thing I would make note of is this incredible panel, where the art is so desperately trying to combine the features of a comic book Black Adam with the face of Dwayne Johnson.
Speaking of Black Adam, I have little nice to say in that department. I’ve been covering Teth-Adam’s tentative steps into heroism since Endless Winter: charting it all the way through Bendis’ confounding Justice League, finally concluding here. It ends with him being the hero – good for him – and then unceremoniously making his way back to Kahndaq, complete with his usual threats of war. If I’m being honest, I’ve tried not to talk about him much. To me, his inclusion has always felt like such an obvious attempt at synergy with the unbearably dull Black Adam solo movie, where Johnson has attempted to separate himself from his origins with Captain Marvel/Shazam. That’s exactly why I am mentioning it here: because it’s utterly hilarious that we’re getting this moment of pure heroism from the antihero, the same day Johnson announces he’s been cut from James Gunn’s DC Film Universe.
God, do I hope for a documentary about DC in the 2010’s one day.
Anyway, this all culminates in an epilogue that sets up the next event, because of course it does. Darkseid, Reverse Flash, Earth 3, Doctor Manhattan, Barbatos, The Batman Who Laughs, Pariah, Deathstroke of all people – Amanda Waller doesn’t strike me as particularly threatening by comparison. Maybe it’ll be the intimate, grounded event I wanted from Event Leviathan, maybe not – I’m past the point of caring. Dark Crisis wanted to pass the torch to the next generation of heroes, and hopefully, readers – but for me, the spark that got me into DC in the first place has sadly flickered out.
- Action is your game! Lots of punching going on in this issue: macho, macho punching, where every fella gets a shot at kicking Deathstroke in the face.
- Actually, that’s a good point. If you hate Deathstroke and want to see everyone and their mother kicking the shit out of him, you might quite like this.
- Other than that, I can’t think of much. It’s exciting, if you care about the scope… but for me, it’s not enough.
I’ve had a very colourful history with the comics I’ve reviewed on this website. From Three Jokers to Batman vs Ra’s al Ghul, I’ve not always found myself tackling the greatest of books – but I’ve had a lot of fun analysing them all the same. There’s something exciting about the feeling of digging into a good (or bad!) book: figuring out exactly what makes it tick, the right and wrong of it all.
But when it comes to superhero books, it’s not a sustainable practice. It’s hard to review a comic that has nothing different to say each week – I might as well be copy-pasting the wiki summary, at that point. Comics are undoubtedly an art form, but some comics just feel like “content” for the sake of it. I’m not very interested in reviewing that.
To me, books like Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths are exactly that: content. They’re not there to engage, to challenge, to try something different. They’re there as a rollercoaster, to thrill and excite those who are on for the ride. It’s fun, to a point: but it’s the same loops, the same twists, the same turns. Time I leave my seat for someone else, I think.
So with that, my time reviewing the DC Universe has come to a close. I’ll be back, now and then – and you’ll see me for a little longer in Upcoming Comics, along with the final two issues of The Riddler: Year One. But when it comes to this world, its endless cycle of continuity, “canon”, resurrections and rebirths? This’ll be it. And while the books I’ve reviewed haven’t always been great, the act of reviewing them for you all has been an absolute pleasure.
Remember, it’s not all like this. You may like Dark Crisis, you may hate it – but no matter what you think, there’s a world of other stories out there! If you take one thing from any of my reviews, it’s this: please don’t limit yourself to the world of the superhero. Explore indie books, dramas, horror, romance, whatever catches your eye! When you broaden your horizons, you might be surprised at what you find.
As for what’s next for me?
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.
Author’s Twitter: @ObnoxiousFinch