Dark Crisis #3 review

The latest version of the Justice League is dead and despair is everywhere.

The heroes who might take up the League’s mantle are having a wallow.

The heroes who want to take up the slack are being condemned by their self-appointed leader.

That’s Black Adam speaking. He reckons the good guys need to show the bad guys they mean business.

Faced with resistance to his wizard wheeze, Black Adam flounces off, leaving the proto-Justice League to… split up and protect their families? Well, that’s the plan, until the cavalry drop in. The first cavalry

The Justice Society of America. The greatest heroes of World War Two and their heirs.

In Deathstroke’s lair, the addled assassin’s daughter tells it like it is.

And in far-off outer space, three Green Lanterns confront the puppet master who wants Deathstroke to spark a full-on Crisis event, Pariah.

Three issues in and it still feels like we’re in the Land of Set-Up, but it seems we’re getting closer to the various threads knitting together into a focused storyline. It has to happen in the next issue of this seven-part series, what with DC having advertised that the title will be getting another three words added to it.

As for this issue’s events, I’m still irked by the idea that with the latest League (supposedly) dead, the people of Earth 0 are cowering in corners. I’m irritated that the many veteran heroes we’ve seen hang around the Hall of Justice for years haven’t immediately marshalled their forces – if ever a Justice League Unlimited was needed, this is the time. I’m hugely annoyed that Jon Kent, Supergirl and the other new Justice Leaguers are letting the scumbag Black Adam berate them. OK, he’s a hell of a lot older than them, but he’s hardly got a long record as a hero. Heck, recent Leaguer Naomi could likely outdo him on that front.

So thank goodness Jon stands up to Black Adam, before the new Wonder Girl physically prevents him from out and out murdering captured supervillain Count Vertigo.

Interesting as the rest of the issue is, once the Justice Society show up my interest in anything else goes out the window. We’ve waited so long for them to take centre stage in the DCU – they recently appeared in the Infinite Frontier prequel mini-series – that one glorious panel isn’t enough. Which isn’t to say the Rose Wilson and Green Lanterns business isn’t interesting, but I’d happily see those story strands in their own Dark Crisis books. If Infinite Crisis could have a series of lead-up titles, why not Dark Crisis REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED.

The scene with Hal and pals and Black Pariah (as no one but me is calling him) is interesting in that it’s the first time the villain of the piece has spelled out his plan in this book. Is writer Josh Williamson giving us a meta-wink here?

By which I mean, is he referring to the fact that Superman, Batman and co could, it not all spark a family of books, at leat serve as powerful story engines?

Frustrations aside, I was throughly engaged by this comic. Yes, the DC Crisis porn is never ending, but what can I say, I’m an easy mark. Williamson knows how to keep me turning pages, even if it’s only in the hope that the things that make no sense are explained – for example, is there an invisible Despair Kaiju attacking the planet, sapping people’s will to fight back, to trust in the surviving heroes?

Daniel Sampere’s art is a big – pardon the pun – draw for me. The storytelling is exemplary, the figure work attractive, the action hypnotic. Did anyone out there see his JSA splash and not hope he’ll draw a series featuring them? Vying for Best Page is a scene showing the arrival of the Green Lanterns into Pariah’s death zone, full of warped images made better by the clever colouring of Alejandro Sanchez and warped letters of Tom Napolitano.

Now that’s a nightmare realm.

The issue’s inks are the work of Daniel Henriques, Danny Miki and Sampere himself, and are uniformly strong.

Sampere and Sanchez provide another terrific cover, its scene of the Green Lantern Corp rallying against Pariah just screams ‘Crisis’.

So how was it for you?

12 thoughts on “Dark Crisis #3 review

  1. Count Vertigo got a lucky escape from almost going the way Terra-Man did a few Black Adam rampages ago.

    A proper JSA book would be great, just give Dr. Fate enough time to change out of his jim-jams first.

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  2. I just can’t get over DC’s handling of the JSA. They basically have been sidelined since 2011 when the New52 was launched. They made a brief comeback a couple years ago in both Snyder’s Justice League/Death Metal storylines and in Johns’ Doomsday Clock. But then … nothing. The team has no series or even miniseries or special on the horizon. But they’re written into Dark Crisis as if the last decade never happened and they’ve been one of the company’s ongoing titles and prominent modern supergroups. Don’t get me wrong – it’s great to see them back. But man is it just … weird. The OCD part of me can’t let this go. It’s like other events where the writer pulls Cave Carson or the Sea Devils out of mothballs for a few panels just to show they are still around out there doing their thing. It really speaks to the lack of direction DC has had for the past few years. At least in the 90s there was a mini-series that specifically brought them back – Armageddon Inferno – after they’d last been sent to comic limbo at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths. And then, after many of the members were done away with during Zero Hour, a miniseries — JSA Returns — forming the new team. So there was a print roadmap to follow. Here it’s just, “The JSA has been around this whole time, just quietly having missions you never read about…”

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    1. I suspect that a lot of the weird handling of the JSA has a lot to do with it being the baby with just one person. When they’re busy elsewhere the JSA seems to be put on hold, hence whilst DC has promised a new book for the last couple of years!

      Hopefully with Black Adam, if it happens, it will give the JSA the push to get new material and maybe DC will give someone else a chance to write a new book.

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      1. I honestly can’t disagree. I’d love to see someone like Gray/Palmiotti/Connor or any combo thereof, or Jeff Parker, or Gail Simone or Mark Waid… heck, any number of creators could give us a fun take on the JSA… does Geoff Johns have a lifetime deal or something?

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    2. Excellent analysis, thanks very much. The DC attitude to the JSA is dizzyingly stupid, there’s a fanbase out there dying to read about these characters regularly. I do not believe they can’t do the numbers of the latest Batman mini series, or an Aquaman/Flash short run, or blooming Nubia. Get a solid creative team a there and give it a go.

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  3. Yeah. Geoff Johns had a good run but it’s time for him and DC to move on, at least from his being the “caretaker” of the JSA/Golden Age heroes. And I can’t imagine there aren’t other writers out there who would like to take a shot at a JSA book.
    Symbol Pending, you raise a larger issue, though. I feel like Geoff Johns needs to make a decision – commit to comics or commit to Hollywood. Or DC needs to make a decision for him – either get Geoff Johns to focus on comics or focus on Hollywood. Because I really think Johns’ “on again/off again” relationship with comics is one of the reasons DC is such a mess right now.
    The reason I say that is that for the past 6 years, beginning with the Rebirth special he wrote, DC seems to have one foot in the “Geoff Johns-verse” and the rest of us are paying for it in terms of the direction of the company. He wrote Rebirth and Doomsday Clock, essentially doing away with the New52, but then never seemingly hung around to work on the aftermath of those books/map out a line-wide plan.
    And then he wrote the Stargirl special that seemed to set up a new Stargirl series and/or a new JSA series. But, again, no follow up.
    And comics is still a weekly business. DC can’t be expected to wait for Geoff Johns to find the time to pick up his story threads. So we end up with Scott Snyder being another DC architect for a bit, then Brian Bendis, now Josh Williamson. But all the while Geoff Johns is kind of lingering over the situation.
    And we just get a mess of continuity. Think about the fact that 2 major Crisis-style events — Johns’ Doomsday Clock and Snyder’s Metal/Justice League/Death Metal odyssey were published pretty much simultaneously. That never should have been allowed to happen. It should have been one or the other.
    There also seems to be no internal editorial direction. For example, remember at the end of Death Metal when it was revealed that Mr. Terrific, Martian Manhunter, Hawkgirl, Luthor, Vandal Savage and Talia had teamed up as a new group that would watch over the multiverse?
    What the heck ever happened to that? It was a pretty significant reveal at the time. There was speculation there would be a new series or at least a miniseries. Maybe when
    Snyder left no one else had any interest, but that just goes to the lack of editorial direction. Some editor should have then found a creator willing to carry that story thread forward.
    Sorry to be so negative, but, while I’m still enjoying some individual books, I’m just really down on the DC line right now. I really had high hopes following Rebirth, but it’s just become a mess.

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    1. Amen to all of this, DC have to loosen the reins of the JSA and commit to a plan. I’m tired of getting excited by the latest Johns tease and then… nothing. What was the name of that team you mention formed with that wacky combo of characters, the Singularity? I think they appeared once or twice for a page or two, but then Justice League Incarnate seem to have been doing what you might expect them to. It’s all such a mess.

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  4. With the Singularity (or whatever they were called), I suspect that going nowhere was more a factor of Dan Didio’s ousting from the company than any lack of involvement by Geoff Johns. I feel like DC is slowly getting its feet back under itself these days, although I can’t say I’m thrilled with some places the company seems to be heading (the overreliance on Bat-books being a prime example). I’ll be interested to see what (if any) books are launched after this current Crisis.

    And as for this issue… it looks like Deathstroke offs a few villains. I spot Prometheus, Shrapnel, Phobia… and one other I can’t place. Any idea who he might be? If they’re dead — and maybe they aren’t; maybe they’re being changed somehow — the only one I’ll really miss is Phobia.

    It was nice to get a look at Sideways in one of the opening vignettes. Out of all of those New Age of DC Heroes books, Sideways and Silencer seem like the ones that have had the most staying power (with Silencer even appearing on TV’s Arrow!). So it’s nice to see he’s still around in the DCU somewhere. Hope he survives the experience.

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    1. I don’t know who that other squished villain is either, they seem to have ear defenders around their neck… maybe a She-Sonar created to be a villainous Red Shirt? We need that guide to characters TN referred to somewhere…

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