February 17, 2023

Dark Crisis On Infinite Earths - [REVIEW]

Dark Crisis issue number one cover.

There are still a bunch of books that I need to catch up with, and while I liked it, I didn't love it... None the less, I think it's worth a read for new DC fans. The last issue of Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths came out about a month ago and I had an opportunity to read through all 7 issues back to back. I imagine the trade paperback will be hitting shelves soon (hopefully, 🤞). I'll keep spoilers to a minimum and mainly just focus on moments that pulled me or pulled me through the mini-series/cross-over and whether or not it might be worth it for you to read through it.

Tonight is kind of a special night. I'm writing this from my kitchen on my new MacBook Pro. I know! Don't tell me, I actually don't know why I've been sleeping on Macs. I'm a fan after just a couple of days. I've been watching enough people use them lately that I decided it would be worth it to learn MacOS, and the process has been enjoyable. As I've posted about Mastodon, I bought an older, semi-refurbished model. It's a "Late-2011." Mac people know what that means, though, if you're a non-Mac person I can tell you that it has a quad-core 2.2ghz i7 with an AMD Radeon 6750M 512MB of video memory. It only has 4GB of RAM right now, but I have 16GB coming. It's nice that it supports so much, back in 2011 16GB wasn't necessary, but that's like the bare-minimum standard for most machines these days. 

Anyway, let's talk about the Justice League and the Teen Titans! Dark Crisis harkens back Crisis on Infinite Earths, but honestly feels more like a Justice League and Teen Titans crossover book. But, that's probably one of the reason I do like it even though it's a bit predictable at points. It does enough different that I was entertained.

I'll start off by saying that there are some good character moments, but it isn't anything that we haven't already seen or read already. Even though I know they killed Supergirl in the original Crisis, I was still a bit shocked to see Slade shoot Beast Boy in the head, and it happens relatively quickly in the first issue. It's a nice lingering plot point to keep you engaged to see what happens--"Titans United: Blood Pact" might be my next read after I catch up with TMNT and Spawn. I'm liking the way they're writing most of the Titans these days.

Slade shoots Beast Boy in the head.

Otherwise though, this is the same universe-almost-ending story that you've heard before. Spotlights are shined on some of the Titans, and they do some cameos with the new heroes; Son of Kal-El gets his moment to shine as Superman, they pit him against Zor-El just before daddy comes home. Which was kind of cool, honestly. I like that Hal Jordan is there and is a prominent figure throughout the story as well. The fact that Black Adam is sort of a neural hero is okay, it's not the best sub-plot--and it's bullshit that the artist on the last book took the liberty of making him look like The Rock in the last issue when he wasn't drawn that way the entire mini-series... However, Deathstroke being the main antogonist for most of the series sort of pivots the story to one about Dick Grayson again, living in Batman's shadow (always). I actually think it was done better here than in the Teen Titans cartoon on Cartoon Network back in the early-to-mid 2000s.

Issue #1 is all about forming a "NEW JUSTICE LEAGUE!" We all know it won't actually happen, but we have to see it through, right? There might be some interesting ideas thrown around in service to the possibility of the Titans taking over for the Justice League. At the end of issue 1 we find out that it is Pariah who has the Monitor's powers and so it's going to be another Infinite Earths situation. Not a bad set up--in my humble opinion--also not the most exciting either.

Cyborg crushes Zor-El

Cyborg's only scene is in Issue two... There may have been others, but nothing major, not like crushing Zor-El. The second issue sets up the younger heroes' as a World's Finest analog; the son of Kal-El has to face off against his uncle and Bruce Wayne's young ward is going up against Slade Wilson again. For some reason Black Adam is there to talk shit to Superboy. They try to play it off as Black Adam being an older mentor-type figure who is talking down to Jon Kent, but it falls flat and doesn't really work, it's not believable. Green Lantern Corps ending the issue though is pretty epic, Hal Jordan was my first introduction to Green Lantern, so he's always going to be my favorite for that reason. I tried to read "Green Lantern: Blackstars" a few years back, but I don't think I actually got through it; looks like I only own the first issue, which is a shame because it's written by Grant Morrison. Might have to dig through the back issues and see if I can fill it in.

Back to Dark Crisis though, there's actually quite a lot going on in the story by Issue number three, the Titans are dealing with Beast Boy being shot; is he alive? Is he going to be changed forever? Spoiler alert for a later issue (since I'm going to talk about the entire mini-series anyway: he has a bad-ass eye patch at the end, but we have no idea how this has fucked him up mentally. Whoever writes Teen Titans next will have to flesh that out a bit though, and does that start a Beast Boy and Slade rivalry? Who knows, maybe he finds a different villain to square off against.

There are a few things that happened in Issue three that I liked. After seeing Wonder Girl in Trial of the Amazons--which is a great annual-sized story split into two books, and a comic that has absolutely stunning artwork--it was cool to see her stand up to Black Adam. Yara Flor could have kicked his ass, and it would have been fun to read.

When Earth-2's Justice Society decides to drop by to help the new heroes, that's when shit gets real, and that's where we leave off before getting into the next issue. While I think the story is a bit long at seven issues, there are some good moments sprinkled throughout. Had I read this story as the issues were coming out and not waited to sit down and read the whole thing as one big long comic, I think I would have been very disappointed issue to issue. It works as a whole, but the break points in the story between issues are not what I would have done, and I probably would have told a shorter story overall. It's really a 4 issue mini series that somehow got expanded to seven.

I appreciate that they brought the Legion of Doom into the mix, but it wasn't really necessary. Issue four does have one of those character moments that I mentioned earlier though, which drives us along.

It happens right after they go down the staircase. The other heroes that they get to join the fight are fun, and seeing two Swamp Things conversing with one another even was pretty cool. My wife likes Swamp thing so I tend to buy her those comics when I see them, but I haven't seen anything since Swamp Thing: Green Hell. Jeff Lemire is one of my favorite writers, hopefully we see more of his work in the future.

Getting back to the mini-series/cross-over at hand though, seeing the Legion of Doom fight Slade and his gang, and learning that Slade is somehow infected with dark energy and it can spread like a disease... Sure? It moves the story along, I'm not so big on the idea, but I don't really care, and you probably won't at this point either. If you make it through Issue #4 and into #5, you're promised that a New Metaverse Is Born!

Obviously, we know that's not really the case, but fuck it, let's see what happens. If you've been reading comics long enough, you can see some of the patterns that are used. It's not a bad thing, it's all in how it's executed. Issue 5 of 7, I'm already invested, so I have to see it to the end anyway. Alright, so it's Infinite Earths again and we get to see a Steampunk Batman--which is apparently his dream world--Beast Boy wakes up and looks like a badass on a mission. But before anything can get rectified, they have to have a battle at the Hall of Justice and we get our first taste of cosmic Superman. Apparently they went and upped Clark Kent's powers in Action Comics, so they had to make him made of star energy in this one. I fucking dig it. I'm down for him to be like Doctor Manhattan, I'm absolutely loving the current run of World's Finest (Mark Waid is killing it as always), I'd be down for another Superman team-up book where it's Cosmic Clark and Doctor Manhattan exploring a new Earth that we've never seen before. What are the problems that could be solved by two god-like beings? And how do they solve those problems? It could be interesting.

Issue six is basically the big team fight. Green Arrow has the best moment in this book, and he isn't even really in the rest of the issues, I think this might even be the first time that we've seen him in this conflict, outside of maybe cameo panels. I love what he has to say too.

After a few cool moments with Jon Kent and his Dad beating the shit out of Doomsday. He doesn't really have much to say, but apparently they need to use every character that I remember from the 90s to keep me interested in what the hell is going on with Superman's comics? You've intrigued me DC, at least for this mini-series/cross-over.

The final issue is what I had been waiting for since I first started adding this to my pull box. I knew I wasn't going to actually read it until it was done. Couldn't tell you why I had that intuition, but it was definitely for the best. Like I mentioned earlier, if you make it past, or into, Issue five, then chances are you'll finish reading it. If you've been reading month after month, I'm sorry... It's a badass cover of Nightwing, but there's only a single moment in the entire issue is worth mentioning; how the fuck did the entire DC Universe just get infused with Black Adam energy and NOTHING happens with that? They just look bad-ass for a single panel?!? In this final issue is also where you find out that all of the tie-in issues have a bunch of stories that are now also concluding in this book, but if you haven't read those, these scenes don't really make any sense. In the past those little yellow dialog boxes references other issues used to just be references to minor things in the story that you might not have picked up, not an entire plot point that just got skipped over because it was too much and get shoved into another book. I get it! That's how it works, I'm not saying it's not a smart move, but for someone like me who was only interested in reading the main books to get an overview of the DC Universe going forward, and whether or not I'm going to continue to buy DC books... It's a bad marketing tool to just tell me that I have to buy more books to understand the stories that they're trying to tell. It should be able to stand alone to a certain extent.

That's sort of where the comic industry has been for a long time. There are a few mainstays and true monthly ongoing books, but I feel like the majority of the stuff I buy and read now are the stories that fit into a short commitment. Six issues is the maximum for certain stories, for me personally anyway.

So what are my final thoughts? Or maybe you're just curious why I thought about embedding a Doobie Brothers album into the beginning of this blog post without any explanation: I see a couple of books that I'm going to want to buy from DC in 2023. Anything Titans, Swamp Thing, or Earth-2, pretty much all the stuff that I've already been into. But like I said, I'm also down for a Cosmic Superman story if there's someone out there that can tell a good one... And also as long as there's no "People's Elbow" if he fights Black Adam.

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