The heroes of Earth 0 are battling dozens of supervillains. I can barely remember why. Something to do with Crisis on Infinite Earth straggler Pariah’s plan to bring back the Infinite Earths. At this point in DC’s current event the worlds are back (again… it’s a long story Dark Crisis writer Joshua Williamson has chosen to forget) but they’re unstable and posing a threat to the prime earth. Who ya gonna call?
Damian Wayne, Robin. Small of statue, large of ego, he comes up with a plan to turn the tide of battle. And for that he’ll need his closest friend, his sole confidante, one of the strongest heroes on the battlefield – Jon Kent, Superman 2.
OK then, time to pick a team, and as we saw in that final panel, his first thought is transportation.
Ignoring certified genius Ted Kord, Booster Gold, who has solved scads of crises in time all on his ownio, the centuries of experience of super spy Frankenstein, and every other hero on the battlefield, Damian chooses himself. He truly is his father’s son.
As it happens, Damian does end up with a team member other than Sideways, Dr Light and Power Girl (two more heroes whose considerable intellects are beneath Damian’s notice), after rescuing a young woman he doesn’t recognise.
Robin directs Sideways to teleport them to…
…which presumably is the world where the JLApe storyline of many years ago occurred. And on this planet, Damian and his ragtag team reach a relic of the Crisis on Infinite Earths.
You can’t say this Dark Crisis single issue spin-off doesn’t have scope. Things get even crazier as Damian’s seemingly plucked-out-of-the-air plan progresses. I mean, maybe he’s heard about the Crisis via his father, or other superheroes, or the Batcave computers, but how does he know where the cosmic tuning fork is? How can he guide Sideways to teleport them where they need to be? Have I missed something, or shall we just shrug and say as one, ‘Comics’?
By close of play Damian and co have had a big win, but I don’t really see that they’re going to make a massive difference when they return to Earth 0. Do I mind? Not really, this is a double-sized bundle of fun starring favourites old (Power Girl, Dr Light II) and new (Damian, Sideways), along with a brand new character who has bags of potential… I don’t know who Red Canary is, but I like her attitude. She holds her own against Damian’s barbs, shows a cool head in a fight, and I’m a sucker for ‘Who’s that behind the mask?’ stories. It’s about darn time Black Canary had, if not a sidekick, a legacy character.
For the entertaining script, we can credit Mark Waid, Delilah S Dawson and Dennis Culver. The latter has been doing a lot of Future State Gotham comics I ignored, and co-wrote the Justice League Incarnate mini-series, while this seems to be prose sci-fi and fantasy author Dawson’s first published DC work. They do a great job, with the Red Arrow characterisation by Dawson especially noteworthy.
And how pleased am I to see Sideways again, he’s one of the best new characters of recent years – his Dan DiDio/Justin Jordan/Kenneth Rockafort series didn’t last long, but it was a compelling read in the tradition of early Spider-Man, Nova and Firestorm.
The scene between Damian and Jon nicely demonstrates their friendship, which happily survived Jon’s unfortunate ageing up. Another highlight of this issue is Dr Light’s best showing in years – she’s sharp, kind and very impressive. In fact, she gets a bit of a power up, the only downside of which is a hopefully temporary new visual. Otherwise, she looks great, especially when handled by co-artist Jack Herbert.
I was going to say that Herbert is a top talent we don’t see enough at DC, but I seem to have said it here. His dynamic compositions and dramatic figurework really are a treat.
The majority of the book is handled by Freddie E Williams II, whose work I don’t think I’ve seen since it graced the JSA: All-Stars book more than a decade ago. His curvy style is a contrast to Herbert’s harder edges, but I’m glad to see it here. Williams’s scrappy panel borders lend a sense of urgency to the opening proceedings, while his Damian has a wonderfully frazzled air (Herbert’s Damian looks a little too old).
Adriano Lucas may have earned a migraine colouring this issue, there’s a Legion-worth of characters in the opening pages, but he does a fabulous job throughout. Letterer Troy Peteri adds to the drama with his choices, always well applied. And a big ‘thank you’ to editor Chris Rosa for giving us a breakdown of who wrote and drew which pages, along with his other work on the comic.
I’m not a fan of the cover by the talented Gleb Melnikov, the shapes behind Damian’s head are confusingly spiky – is that the cape? – while the background faces of Eclipso, Darkseid and co – the Dark Army of the title who barely figure inside the book – are a little lost. Damian should be popping against the dark background, and the mound bearing the Boy W***er could usefully be shrunk to give the baddies more room. I was interested to see the blurb refer to ‘Damian Wayne’ rather than ‘Robin’. With luck, Tim Drake is getting exclusive rights to the Robin name again.
If you’re reading the Dark Crisis story but are watching the pennies, this issue is inessential. But if you can afford this one – it’ll be on DC Universe Infinite Ultra next month – I heartily recommend it as a tasty slice of DCU goodness.