Dark Crisis #6 review

Just look at this cover, what a wonderful, powerful image. It’s a classic DC event composition – it has to be a homage to Crisis on Infinite Earths #12 – with dozens of heroes in a last stand against a massive villain.

Pariah doesn’t get giant sized inside, that’s artist Daniel Sampere taking a bit of artistic licence, showing us the size of the threat. Inside the book it’s basically the same deal as in previous issues. The accidental instigator of the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Pariah, wants to bring back the original multiverse (which has been brought back at least twice, most recently a year or two back, but that’s not important right now…). The heroes aren’t keen because key to the return is the destruction of Earth 0, the focus of the current DC Universe. And even were that not the case, the Flash, Barry Allen, has found a rather big snag.

Elsewhere…

The heroes reckon they need yet more heroes to beat Pariah. Pariah’s lieutenant Deathstroke reckons they need more heroes to feed Pariah’s plans.

The Teen Titans foe turned poster boy for horrible hairdos isn’t great at logic, not getting that yes, legacy heroes will be gone, but so will he.

Maybe the reader isn’t supposed to give the script the second thought it takes to spot the logic hole. Perhaps you’re supposed to just let the words go over your head, like one of the Peanuts gang listening to Miss Othmar.

Blah, blah and indeed blah. And I normally love this stuff. But all we’ve had for issue after issue is heroes vs villains vs possessed heroes to stop something happening that we all know will happen anyway. The internal logic of the story is weird. This is apparently a Big Moment

I can almost guarantee that in a story in which hundreds of heroes are on panel, precisely no one is wondering what the heck Jace Fox is doing there. I doubt he’d have registered with anyone, he’s hardly been a breakout character, he’s just a leftover from Dan DiDio’s Generations project that was twisted into Future State.

Williamson does give Green Arrow a splendid Henry V moment.

Now that’s a rousing speech. I don’t actually know what Dinah is going on about, perhaps some psychic predicted Ollie would never return from the big battle. Ach, who cares, he’s been dead/‘dead’ a fair few times, including about five minutes before this series began. Whatever, it’s the highlight of the comic, as Williamson shows it’s not just Injustice/DCeased/Dark Knights of Steel writer Tom Taylor who gives us an excellent Ollie.

This issue also features some business with Jon Kent bashing Darkseid before almost being killed by Doomsday, inspirational flashbacks spurring him on – he’s ready to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Hurrah for Superdad. There’ll be no Pietà homages this day.

Which isn’t to say there’s not a dramatic exit.

Pariah has been blasted by his Whatever Machine, fired by ace Jace, who says that while not being a tech genius like other family members, his dad Lucius taught him… to fire Doomsday devices? I suspect he simply pressed the first button he saw.

Williamson apparently wants to push the new kids this time, because not only do New Batman and New Superman get big moments, New Wonder Girl does too, using her Lasso of Truth to make Pariah see he’s been acting on porkies – someone has been whispering lies in his shell-likes. This only struck me on writing this piece. I remain unimpressed. I tried a Jace Batman story and it was unreadable, Wonder Girl’s comic was pretty but dull, while all-grown-up Jon is half the guy he was when he was a tween. If Williamson really wanted them to be remembered for this issue he could have given them closure, killing off the spare Batman and Wonder Person, and wiping away the years Jon spent growing up on Earth 3. Opportunity lost.

If you’re thinking of buying this book, let the art sell you on it. Daniel Sampere is a a superb illustrator, he’s probably being offered an exclusive deal by Marvel as you read this. The compositions are tremendous (Teen Titans Academy artist Rafa Sandoval is also credited in this department), his figurework terrific and his enthusiasm for people-packed panoramas positively Perez-ian. While I appreciate the epic moments, this panel is my favourite.

Among all the (beautifully drawn) visual ‘noise’ the relative simplicity of this image draws the eye. The colours throughout the comic by Alejandro Sanchez (who also works on the cover) look great, clarifying the action, while the sharp letters come courtesy of Troy Peteri. It’s just a shame the story doesn’t match the quality of the art.

There’s one more issue to go. The wheel-spinning will surely stop and we’ll see how things shake out – we got a preview in Geoff Johns’ Flashpoint Beyond – and hopefully the bumpy, exhausting journey will prove worthwhile.

Art by George Perez, colours by Tom Ziuko

32 thoughts on “Dark Crisis #6 review

  1. My impression is about the same as yours — a lot of noise and bright lights, but it doesn’t make much sense. And I was really hoping you would know why Green Arrow isn’t going to be resurrected with the rest of them. (I assume it’s because he wasn’t killed by Pariah, but by Doomsday, in Death of the JLA, but someone says that Pariah told him something; if he did, it sailed past me. Then again, most everything about this story makes no sense beyond the emotion of the moment.)

    And this issue has a lovely cover, but it pales in comparison to Perez’s cover to Crisis 12. Look how much individuality all the characters have there! The GA Superman has already made it to the Anti-Monitor, and is reflecting off. AM’s got a cluster of heroes in his clutches. We see atomic blasts, stretching, punching, exertion of all kinds. But on the Sampere cover, it’s all just heroes flying toward Pariah, with some shooting rays that are pretty much differentiated only by color. Perez gives us an on-the-scene moment; Sampere gives us an artistic rendering of someone who heard about it after the fact.

    That said, he draws some incredible scenes inside, full of determination and heart. As I said, this story only makes sense in its individual emotional moments, and it’s Sampere who sells every one of them.

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  2. I’m with you.
    I don’t understand it. I don’t feel the stakes. I have seen it a bunch before and it just another event.
    This event has borrowed so heavily from the others it no longer feels like homage and starts to feel like plagiarism. Even Pariah’s death is like the Flash’s in Crisis #8.
    Thankfully Supergirl made it out … or will she. Next issue is #7, her issue to die last time.
    But to have this end with Deathstroke as the new big bad … that is pretty lame.

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  3. Why bring back the infinite earths if you’re not gonna SHOW the infinite earths? Are there ANY scenes on those earths? Are they all just, like, from the dawn of time, waiting to be repopulated? Is one filled with Roy Thomas’ All-Star Squadron, and another with the Shazam Family, and another with the original Freedom Fighters? And if so, why aren’t THEY pitching in?

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    1. I wondered that too. OK, I forgot to write that I wondered it… but this issue would have been the perfect one to have hordes of heroes and villains hurtle off their worlds to help in the fight against Pariah.

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  4. Following up on stuff I posted on Anj’s blog – plus, posting here means I’ll get notified of new comments :).

    It looks like the five who were vaporized by Pariah (Firestorm, Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, Steel and Connor Hawke – not Ethan Hawk, which I wrote in the other comment duh!) immediately ended up on their own imaginary planets. I doubt there will be any followup to that.

    Green Arrow and Black Canary are holding hands when they both evaporate in the same white light. So, we are supposed to get from this that she’s still around while he’s gone? There was no way to show that she was alone right after that moment?

    The storytelling has gotten weak, but in a way it doesn’t matter – are the incomprehensible explanations the series sometimes tosses out much better than no explanations at all?

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  5. Although I’m not (that’s absolutely NOT, DC!) going to buy this latest issue, I *do* like the panels with Ollie/Green Arrow and Dinah/Black Canary you showcase. It’s nice to see Oliver getting some respect – in his classic form – after years in the 2000s when he was weirdly disparaged in-universe apparently for his liberalism.
    Making this mini-maxi-series about “legacy” *again* seems weirdly wrong-headed; it is selling itself as the TRUE sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths but that unequaled maxi-series involved virtually *everyone* old, very old, new. “Dark Crisis…” on the other hand goes the now-tired route of trying to shill new or fairly new characters as well as certain villains (helloooo Mohawk Deathstroke, bugger off Black Adam!) without being convincing about it. The attempts at diversity (or “diversity”, it’s almost as if they’ve forgotten great characters such as Steel and Jakeem Thunder exist) are on the surface laudable but in reality often forced. Jace Fox being a person of colour doesn’t make him a great character (John Stewart IS or rather WAS a great character but not because he was black) while “revealing” that Alan Scott was gay all along hardly makes him suddenly fascinating, he was fine as he was. Similarly Tim Drake was a great character bizarrely neglected for years but making him bisexual and writing him out of character doesn’t make up for that. Quite the opposite. If they’d made *Jason Todd* bisexual THAT might have been interesting, well it might have finally made him interesting even after years of him being SOLD as Mr Incredible (see the otherwise not bad Event Leviathan for an egregious example) but nope Tim gets that honour. (The original Jason, pre-Crisis was likeable/interesting enough – AND a redhead! – even tho’ he had a lazy rip-off origin. The post-Crisis version was fascinating as a damaged Robin who wasn’t up to snuff but the later post-revival Jason’s were, mostly, for the birds. Robin/birds, geddit?) at least.
    The whole point of the DC Universe is that we have young *and* older or even old characters that’s what makes it great. Too often we get dimwitted would-be metatextual commentary now without a convincing story. Any criticism of the look-how-daring-we-are-being goofiness is frowned upon as if this allies you with the many bigots but jeepers they would be advised to read the better superhero comic books of the Eighties and into the Nineties on how to do things properly. The JSA of the early to late 2000s had a diverse cast (admittedly no one explicitly non-straight) but Goyer/Johns and later Johns alone handled made it how it should be, natural. *sigh* Partially off-topic ramble ends now!
    Great pertinent review, Martin.

    *What the heck is Jace Fox doing here?! Um, sucking? Not being as good as Lucius or Batwing? Bwa-ha-ha-ha!

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    1. I’ve always hated Deathstroke, the idea that this one guy could be a threat to the Titans was ridiculous. And then they had him take out the JLA in a page or something in the awful Identity Crisis.

      Your comments on diversity make so much sense, it’s as if the current generation of writers decided the existing characters weren’t enough, they had to make up their own characters. But I’d live to see the likes of Natasha Iron and Jason Rusch at the forefront of the action. And never mind just the diverse characters, why are the likes of Captain Atom and Firestorm relegated to just a panel here and there? These are characters who had their own books, were members of the JL, for years – use them, or explain why they’re suddenly so easily defeated.

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      1. Yes, Natasha and John Henry Irons, Jason Rusch. It’s as if they’ve forgotten these very good characters exist. Why bash together characters seemingly from a list of diversity signifiers or retcon in some new goofballs when there are diverse characters going begging? If you imagine me shaking my head in frustration/consternation/irritation then you are demonstrating a superpower (remote viewing?)! (That said, I don’t have a problem with new gay or whatever characters. Just, please God, don’t do it in a ridiculous/patronising forced way designed to get the hard-of-thinking of either side cheering or jeering)
        Yay, yay, and thrice yay. I think you should be an editor at DC (in the grand tradition of Andy Helfer, Barbara Kesel, Mike Gold et Al) but, alas, they don’t in recent years appear to have many. At least not ones who do any useful editing…though they do have some dictating story directions. Badly.

        I was thinking about All-Star Squadron today (No,

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      2. I was listening to a podcast this week, the new JLA Bwah-Ha-Ha show in which Shag interviews JM DeMatteis, and there was disappointing stuff about Andy Helfer on there.

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      3. I can’t even remember the details now, I think it was about how Helfer wouldn’t let Steve Englehart actually mention on panel in New Guardians that Extrano was gay. Apologies to all if I’m having a brain fart.

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      4. Ahh. At least it’s not that bad. Different times and with all due respect to Steve Englehart (a fine comics writer at his best but given, like the late great but not giant egoless Neal Adams, to making huge sweeping claims for his influence beyond his very true accomplishments) it’s not as if his treatment of that character was beyond reproach. Just LOOK at the fellow (Englehart’s scripting has to bear much of the blame) and glom how he was written. Stereotypical! As for not letting the Eng state he was gay on-panel, it couldn’t have been clearer if he’d been Liberace doing a Paul Lynde impression while dressed as Danny La Rue/someone off RuPaul’s Drag Race. He was the Rylan Clark-Neal of superhumans.

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      5. Yes, Natasha and John Henry Irons, Jason Rusch. It’s as if they’ve forgotten these very good characters exist. Why bash together characters seemingly from a list of diversity signifiers or retcon in some new goofballs when there are diverse characters going begging? If you imagine me shaking my head in frustration/consternation/irritation then you are demonstrating a superpower (remote viewing?)! (That said, I don’t have a problem with new gay or whatever characters. Just, please God, don’t do it in a ridiculous/patronising forced way designed to get the hard-of-thinking of either side cheering or jeering)
        Yay, yay, and thrice yay. I think you should be an editor at DC (in the grand tradition of Andy Helfer, Barbara Kesel, Mike Gold et Al) but, alas, they don’t in recent years appear to have many. At least not ones who do any useful editing…though they do have some dictating story directions. Badly.

        I was thinking about All-Star Squadron today (No, I’m not insane, why do you ask?), although there was some clumsiness in the writing and handling of themes, I liked how Roy Thomas brought Amazing Man into the series and attempted to deal with racial themes. A black superhero (or superhero of Colo(u)r whatever the current term may be) in the 1940s is a powerful idea. Unfortunately today instead of a character we might have a collection of buzzwords with all the shelf-life of a banana (I don’t like to mock, but when an actor from Black Panther Wakanda Forever says how great it is to see her life experience on screen it’s hard not to do so – unless she comes from the super-civilization of Wakanda, I don’t think that counts as truth. Terence Stamp could well have said he was thrilled to see HIS life experience on screen when he was in Superman, just because everyone we see on Krypton – I think – was White. On the other hand it’s comforting that Black, White, Golden, whatever skin colour you may possess and no matter how intelligent or talented you may be in other areas you can still say completely stupid things with a straight face not even realising how goofy they are. Hm, don’t mind me, it is just that much of the Human race is proving horrifyingly disappointing/depressing!).

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      6. Alas I am partially deaf so I can’t do that even with my hearing device but I suspect you weren’t mediocre at all. (Please don’t imagine that I’m bowing and scraping!)

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      7. (breathes in helium while imitating Jimmy Bolan in WTBCI) C’mon noo kidder, surely it can’t be that bad, like. (Yes, I have no shame – or bananas either)
        Apropos of nothing, isn’t it interesting that the writer of When The Boat Comes In, James Mitchell, also created Callan? Also, now I have the theme song from When… (via the fish commercial) stuck in my head. Come on now: “Put a little fishie on a little dishy…”

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      8. Mart, that disappointing news about Helfer wasn’t from JMD’s interview on the Bwa-Ha-Ha podcast (although Helfer was mentioned on that, so I can see the confusion), it was on the most recent Wait, What?, which I’m sure you also listened to. Graeme was sifting through old Amazing Heroes and comics journal interviews, and was talking about one with Engelhart that discussed his difficulties with Helfer on New Guardians.

        But thanks for sending me to the Bwa-Ha-Ha podcast to hear the DeMatteis interview!

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      9. Thanks you Rob, my memory is just rubbish… but ask me about something from a comic in 1975. Oh dear, I’m so old. And isn’t it a shame that Wait, What? Is going away.

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  6. I was interested by the first couple of issues, but the last couple have been rather tedious. The art looks good, but the story is just not. Not to mention that some of the important factors in play in this issue were revealed in a different book, something DC has been doing more with their events lately. If you tell me a story, tell me the story, don’t make me have to go to the store and hope they have that other story in order to understand yours.

    Pariah being driven insane by his own guilt is a fascinating element of the story, but they have not really given us a chance to see that other than a few throwaway lines here and there. We should be feeling for him, because he should be a sympathetic character considering his obvious mental problems, but instead we get setup for making Deathstroke the final big bad here, which I find as tedious as when they make Batman the only JLAer who can defeat an enemy.

    As for Deathstroke’s motivation here, I think I got a hint of him being distraut by his own life, the loss of his children, etc., and he wants to die. He wants his universe to end so that he, or the he that comes about after, might have a chance to do better. The “A contract is a contract” line was absolute stupidity.

    If they wanted me the shake in fear at the notion of the darkness corrupting someone they should have made it Raven or someone like The Phantom Stranger or The Spectre. Deathstoke? Pfft, he’s the low-rent version of Batman at DC Comics. They try really hard to convince us he is an omega-level threat, but it’s really hard to buy that.

    I hope this leads to a new multiverse, which as you said has been brought back at least twice already, that allows for a few good lines of books.

    It was brought back in Convergence, Doomsday Clock, and arguably in Rebirth when The Flash set the process in motion by bringing back Wally West, and even in Metal, where the Dark Multiverse was revealed as part of the Multiverse’s function.

    Settle it finally and leave it alone, DC, please!

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    1. Interesting ideas about Deathstroke’s motivations, I missed this completely. I want to know what Wintergreen thinks of it all. And the Rebirth version of Jericho is insanely powerful, where is he while his dad is going mad. Rose is here, Joe should be too.

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    2. Oh man, I absolutely hated when DC take characters such as Batman or Deathstroke cosmically powerful/important. I loathed the “Batman Who Laughs” (I can’t write that without quotation marks as it is too hellaciously moronic for words) and as for Deathstroke… Deathstroke?! Eff’s sake. Awful. What’s next? Crazy Quilt? The Batmite Who Giggled? The Royal Flush Gang ravages the multiverse/omniverse/megaloverse?

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      1. Heh! Everyone likes the Royal Flush Gang, that’s why we don’t to see them Johnsized into multiversal conquerors or total loopyloo psychos, you just KNOW DC would do it to make them badass (rather *bad* and like asses). Oh, the humanity!

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  7. I think Death Metal was bigger than that. It brought back every possible universe, set up earth as the metaverse (which might well have been a Geoff Johns idea that Snyder incorporated), set up the Omniverse which meant an infinite number of multiverses (so you could have the New 52 multiverse with its 52 universes, but could also have the original multiverse of infinite universes), created so-called Omega and I think it was Alpha planets or universes that shifted Earth-0 out of position as the center of things… all of which lasted 5 minutes. Thanks to that, dead characters started reappearing and many characters remembered prior existences. Roy Harper came back. It wasn’t just the Dark Multiverse, then, but it was enormous, and ultimately pointless.

    Death Metal also set up the Totality team, that odd team of heroes+villains which lasted all of 3 minutes but did have one minor appearance in one of the Infinite Frontier series.

    Probably everyone wants to forget! That was a very, very expensive event, 24 books altogether – 7 main titles, 12 one-shots, and 5 (terrible) issues of Justice League. Many of the one shots were $8.99. I bought it all, because I am insane.

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