Dark Crisis: The Deadly Green #1 review

As most of the world’s greatest superheroes try to hold back the chaos caused by Deathstroke’s Army of the Dead, others look to find out what’s corrupted the primal force known as The Great Darkness. Justice League Dark regulars John Constantine, Dr Fate and Swamp Thing Alec Holland are joined by Nightwing, new Wonder Girl Yara Flor, Superman 2 Jon Kent. Nightwing, Raven, Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott and his adult kids Jade and Obsidian. And they have a plan.

And so into the ring goes everyone but Jade, Nightwing, Wonder Girl and Dr Fate, who ready themselves in case anything nasty comes from the other direction. They’re also guarding Alan and Obsidian.

The realm of the Great Darkness includes elements of Earth, but Jon soon learns that things are very different.

What’s more, the corrupting influence of the realm starts hitting the heroes, seeding suspicion.

Elsewhere, Constantine is having a ‘chinwag’ with, it seems, Raven’s terrible father, Trigon.

I enjoyed this double-sized special a lot. Where the mother book, Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths, is fun, it’s unfocused to the extent that it’s sometimes tough to say what the story is. The Deadly Green, though, has a clear concept and throughline – go into the dark and find out how it’s linked to the chaos in the outside world. Once there, each character gets a little play from writers Ram V, Alex Paknadel and Dan Watters, with Raven especially benefiting – this is the best she’s been portrayed in years. And Jon is far more interesting and proactive than he’s been in his own title. There’s also good work done with Jade, Obsidian and Alan, outside the ring.

As for Constantine, his back-and-forth with the antagonist is intelligent and thought provoking, echoing the themes of the classic Swamp Thing #50, from which the entire Dark Crisis story derives.

Three writers seems a lot, but the issue read surprisingly smoothly. Even more surprising, it’s not harmed by having four artists – Daniel Baylis, Tom Derenick, George Kambadais and Brent Peeples. In fact, the pages look great; if I had to pick a favourite sequence it’d be Derenick’s handling of the Jon/Swampy team-up – the emotions and atmosphere are pitch perfect. Matt Herms and Troy Peteri, who colour and letter the whole issue respectively, deserve kudos for their craft and consistency. Credit, too, to editor Chris Rosa for putting this issue’s talent together and ensuring everything works.

Cover artist Goñi Montes is a new name to me, but I’d be happy to see more from them – it’s a terrific image.

As units of comic bookery go, Dark Crisis: The Deadly Green is the most satisfying chapter of the crossover yet.

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