Dark Crisis #2 review

Titans Tower is under siege as DC’s biggest event of 2022 continues. The good news is that Titans Academy student Chupacabra hasn’t been blown to smithereens along with the bomb strapped to him last issue.

The bad news is that said explosive did indeed go off, wrecking the superhero school for the second time this year.

Other good news is that a bullet to the face didn’t kill Beast Boy.

The bad news…

The off-panel voice belongs to Deathstroke the Terminator, who looks to have had a tragic makeover in a recent crossover I didn’t fancy at all. He’s hated all things Titans since his son Grant, the Ravager, died in battle (well, except for a brief, stupid period when the New Titans were treating the murderous monster as an anti-hero ally). He’s now extended his Titans-centred malice to a hatred of the very concept of legacy heroes, and to make his point he aims to beat the first, and best, of them all, Nightwing.

Also, kill the heroes who have volunteered to make up a new Justice League, after they died saving their world – Earth 0 – from a group of massively powered villains assembled by Pariah.

For the sobbing survivor of the Crisis on Infinite Earths has been convinced that if he organises the destruction of Earth 0, the effects of the first big Crisis will be rolled back, restoring his own world.

Elsewhere, a hero who wasn’t around when the Crisis occurred is escaping space prison.

While back on Earth, Black Adam is floating around Titans Tower, being a prick.

Overall, this is a very decent comic book. The art by Daniel Sampere is excellent once more, with dozens of background characters recognisable to the longtime fan, and showcase scenes such as the battle between Nightwing and Deathstroke the Terminally Boring rendered with pizzazz. Sampere’s compositional choices add to the drama – watch for the bone crunching duel between Nightwing and Deathstroke – right up to a cracking final page spotlighting one of the most powerful fighting forces in the DC Universe.

My favourite page, though, is a sequence setting up the return of one of DC’s greatest villains, for which the credit almost certainly belongs equally to Sampere and writer Josh Williamson.

And look at how Sampere cleverly uses wayward locks to add expression to Nightwing’s blank-eyed mask.

The pages are thoughtfully coloured by Alejandro Sánchez, his choices popping throughout – the lighting is especially impressive, on Phobia’s costume in that panel with the injured Beast Boy, for instance. Sánchez also colours the cover, which is illustrated by Sampere; it’s well done, but the loss of Deathstroke’s classic silhouette means a lot of people won’t realise who Dick is tussling with. Cover copy would have helped.

Tom Napolitano more than earns his pay cheque with marvellously emphatic work.

Williamson moves the story along with skill, but there are a couple of instances where he’s either not been paying attention, or is deliberately ignoring recent stories. For example, in this issue we have longtime Titans pals Beast Boy and Cyborg, but a couple of months ago, in Titans Academy, they were soldered together in order to save both their lives. Which is undeniably a silly decision on the part of that series’ writer – there’s a reason Titans Academy is cancelled – but it needed to be addressed, not ignored. Said writer, Tim Sheridan, did mention that Star Labs boffins were working on a solution to the ‘Cybeast’ problem, all Williamson needed to do was add a line of dialogue waving the nonsense away.

A bigger issue is that ‘Black Pariah’ wants the Crisis on Infinite Earths undone. Er, it already has been, at the end of the Convergence event half a decade or more ago. When a series is specifically built on the back of previous Crisis events, it shouldn’t ignore one that so firmly declared Crisis on Infinite Earths null and void.

That’s the problem with going back to the Crisis well again and again – eventually the clear water is gone and what’s left is muddied.

Among the things I really enjoyed is the use of Green Lantern Hal Jordan, still rightly incredulous that any hero pays even a moment’s attention to the word of known despot and murderer Black Adam. Then there’s a cameo by a minor League villain as that hero who screams ‘legacy’ joins the series cast. And Cyborg gets the line of the issue.

Who’s the odd one out here?

All the headshots are of heroes who agrees to join the latest Justice League – all except Firestorm, who was decidedly iffy about the whole idea last month, and the new Batman, who was a bit snotty. I hope this is a sign that the Nuclear Man has a role to play in Dark Crisis. The new Batman I can do without.

All in all, I enjoyed this issue a lot, it could stand to be a weekly! How about you?

11 thoughts on “Dark Crisis #2 review

  1. Great review, but just a minor correction. “For example, in this issue we have longtime Titans pals Beast Boy and Changeling, but a couple of months ago, in Titans Academy, they were soldered together in order to save both their lives.”

    That should be Beast Boy and Cyborg. Beast Boy and Changeling are the same character already. 🙂

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  2. If you ignore “Convergence” (which, honestly, can we please do so?) Pariah’s plan STILL makes no in-universe sense and, frankly, seems to show even the staff at DC aren’t really sure what to make of nearly 40 years of mucking around with continuity.
    If I’ve understood the various crises correctly (again, leaving out “Convergence”), then in “Crisis on Infinite Earths” those that weren’t totally destroyed by the Anti-Monitor were merged into one history. So, for example, Earth 2’s Justice Society and Earth X’s Freedom Fighters were now part of one united DC history. They became, in continuity, not just in publishing reality, the Golden Age/WWII heroes who preceded the Silver Age heroes.
    Then, following “Infinite Crisis” and the “52” weekly series that followed, 52 infinite earths/universes were reborn, and we got NEW VERSIONS of Earth X and Earth 2 (see Morrison’s “Mutiversity”) series. So, for example, the current DCU technically has 2 versions of the Uncle Sam character from the Freedom Fighters – the original who immigrated to the main DCU from Earth X following “Crisis on Infinite Earths” and another one who was part of the new Earth X that was reborn out of “Infinite Crisis.”
    And yes, my head hurts after typing all of that…
    But the point is, if DC had not published ANY MORE CRISIS following “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” then yes, Pariah’s plan to undo that event makes sense. But the fact is that it’s already been undone in “Infinite Crisis/52.” So I’m not quite sure Pariah — or Josh Williamson, for that matter — really understand what is going on.

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    1. Great comments! You make huge sense Brian. It’s terrible DC editors and writers either can’t keep these things straight, or simply don’t care. Oh, for the days of someone like Peter Sanderson acting as continuity editor.

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  3. Also, don’t even get me started on Hypertime where, it could be argued, all of the pre-“Crisis on Infinite Earths” stories ended up after that event. So why does Pariah need to “bring back” the multiverse? He just needs to visit Hypertime…

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  4. I loved this issue.
    I don’t like seeing the Titans defeated so easily and mostly off-panel, and the Tower gets destroyed more often than cap’s shield, but overall, this was a great installment.

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  5. I guess the recent Titans title is now entirely forgotten (Lord knows wish I could)? That’s the only reason makes sense for characters that were members of the team proper or snuck of to Apokalips for funsies would be so beaten and demoralized by Firefly or Crazy Quilt.

    As for Black Adam, it feels like only yesterday that he was punching holes through a few of them. But that was several Crises ago.

    Still it is a good book, but don’t think it would work as a weekly. Either the story or art would suffer for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good point on the weekly idea, but it’s just six issues, they might have started it awhile ago and released it weekly.

      Black Adam. Sheesh. Why on Earth did Geoff Johns want him as an anti-hero in the first place?

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      1. Oh, I love Black Adam as an anti-hero! I never cared for him as an outright villain. Giving him a country and a family to care about was one of the best things Johns ever did, IMO.

        On the other hand, I’m happy to see Slade go back to his villainous ways.

        I’m enjoying this one a lot so far. Of course, I was enjoying the last two Williamson miniseries a lot in their first issues, too, and both fell short for me (Justice League Incarnate more than Infinite Frontier — I just don’t care about most of those characters!), so we’ll see.

        I hope Gorilla Gregg hasn’t quit for good.

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