THIS WEEK: With Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #4, DC Comics’ big summer event barrels through its halfway point this week, and so we are checking in with the book. Plus, two of DC’s other best series right now get new issues.
Note: the reviews below contain spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdict.
Dark Crisis On Infinite Earths #4
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Daniel Sampere
Colorist: Alejandro Sánchez
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
It’s been a while since we’ve checked-in on Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths. In fact, the last time we wrote about the book as part of this weekly DC column, it was still just called Dark Crisis, keeping its cards close to its chest and not yet revealing its aspirations as a sequel to the classic 1985 event. And this week with the series crossing its halfway mark, we figured, what better time to check in?
This fourth issue delivers basically everything you’ve come to expect from a big superhero event comic’s midway point. There’s big action in this one, to be sure, with one splash page of Deathstroke’s army arriving to confront the Legion of Doom standing out as a particular highlight. There are also some big reveals, some hints that I can tell will be unraveled even if I can’t guess how just yet, and some building stakes for periphery characters who we can only assume will start to rise to the occasion to tackle evil in the remaining three main series issues. This fourth part also ties into some of the crossovers happening in the DC line — specifically The Flash as well as the World Without a Justice League one-shots.
There are a lot of things I’m enjoying about this event. Top among them is the way that we’re now more than half done, and Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman remain essentially total non-factors in the story, with their main impacts being their absences. It’s been such a long time since DC Comics has sidelined its trinity in a story with this large scale and widespread significance. As a result, we get moments for other characters to shine, for Lex Luthor to quip with Vandal Savage, or for the original Alan Scott Green Lantern to deliver a pep talk to Nightwing, or for a drunken Detective Chimp to vent the trauma he’s experienced. More than anything so far, this elevation of less-likely DC characters has made Dark Crisis really shine.
Another thing that’s working well for me with this event is the way it’s drawing on the past in interesting, and non-obvious ways. I’ve written about this elsewhere on this site, but putting Pariah at the center of the story to me is the choice that has really made this book live up to its aspirations as a sequel to Crisis On Infinite Earths. It’s a natural callback to that story, raising and seeking to answer questions around this very influential character that have never quite been addressed or resolved. On top of that, the darkness itself has started to become very interesting, with hints that it has been present and lurking for some time, whatever its true nature ends up being.
So yes, as we get into the second half of this event I’m enjoying it quite a bit. It’s got the polished artwork, the big swings, and the deep callbacks to long-time DC continuity that make these giant silly summer superhero stories so much fun.
Verdict: BUY IT
- And then there’s Flashpoint Beyond #5, which makes the bizarre decision to set its first panel two days after Dark Crisis ends. This feels very odd and almost petty, like the book badly wants to be the publisher’s main summer event or something, despite the rest of the line clearly orbiting around Dark Crisis. This series has been a tough sell from the start for me, overestimating — in my opinion — how fondly most readers remember the Flashpoint continuity (it had its moment but nothing about it screams revisit). On top of that, the first issue emphatically insisted that none of this matters. This issue actually walks that back a little, with a first page that ends with the line “…the truth is: everything only matters…when it matters in our hearts.” Sigh. It all feels like a bit of a mess. This issue was written by Geoff Johns, Tim Sheridan, and Jeremy Adams, with art by Xermánico and Mikel Janín, colors by Romulo Fajardo Jr. and Jordie Bellaire, and letters by Rob Leigh.
- Poison Ivy #4 is another great issue in one of my favorite DC series this year. This is such a polished and thoughtful comic, an absolute master class in how to do a limited series about a character. Super glad this run is getting extended, too. This issue is by writer G. Willow Wilson, artist Marcio Takara, colorist Arif Prianto, and letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou.
- Finally, The New Champion of SHAZAM! #2 was just such a great read, as was this series’ first issue. There’s just something special about a teen superhero comic that really gets the coming of age elements right, especially one where the art is as wonderful as it is here. This issue was written by Josie Campbell, illustrated by Evan “Doc” Shaner, and letterer by Becca Carey.
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