Dark Crisis: The Dark Army #1 review

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?

Art by Freddie E Williams II

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.

Art by Freddie E Williams II

OK then, time to pick a team, and as we saw in that final panel, his first thought is transportation.

Art by Freddie E Williams II

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.

Art by Jack Herbert

Robin directs Sideways to teleport them to…

Art by Jack Herbert

…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.

Art by Jack Herbert

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.

Art by 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.

12 thoughts on “Dark Crisis: The Dark Army #1 review

  1. From the way I’ve been gushing over this one all day you can probably tell I really like this one!

    Maybe it’s the surprise Pee Gee appearance, I’m not quite sure why she and Sideways were left out of all the blurbs I’ve seen, but I can see now why people gush about Waid’s writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. JLApe actually wasn’t an alternate Earth, they just turned into apes in that arc. Earth-53 actually isn’t so old, first introduced in the Dark Nights: Metal debacle as the Earth from “the 53rd universe,” home to the Primate Legion, which at the time meant Earth-52 (since there were Earths 0 through 51, totaling the classic 52 Earths). In Doomsday Clock, Johns wanted to use Earth-1985 and Earth-52, and of course he got both, thus muddling things. Waid actually fixes the problem of having two Earth-52s, giving the Primates a new numeration (53) while leaving Johns with his precious 52.

    Anyway, that’s probably more than you ever wanted to know about the backstage history of the ape Earth. Haven’t left a comment in a while, but don’t let it fool ya—I never ever miss your reviews, Martin. Keep up the excellent work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Collin (and apols for the slow reply, it’s one of those weeks) for the info on JLApe and Earth 53 and the others. I used to be able to keep this stuff in my head, now I have a problem remembering what to call main DC Earth – it was Earth One, now its Earth 0, I think at one point they were actually calling it the Prime Earth.


  3. I’m not sure why this issue exists (foretaste of the Red Canary before she properly debuts elsewhere?) but it’s a more fun aside than the main series.
    And well done for finally revealing the fate of Avery. The Flash family of her world remembered to be worried over that for a whole episode!I am glad to have her & CC back though.

    Agree with you on Dr. Light’s power-up look, it doesn’t work. Maybe it’s meant to reference something else?
    And I don’t think it really needed it, but will give the book applause for finally revealing the reason Monitor Kimiyo her powers only 35-ish years after her first appearance!
    Taking it at a positive thing that DC editorial are allowing their writers to do such things nowadays.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wonder if anything will become of Red Canary, whether other writers will want to use her, or whether she’ll vanish into Teen Heroine Limbo with the likes of Black Alice and Misfit. I do like her so far, she’s confident without being annoyingly cocky.


  4. As you say, sort of meaningless for the big story.
    I like Freddie Williams art and seeing him drawing Power Girl was a treat. I liked his JSA All Stars run.
    And Power Girl getting twitchy about the tuning fork and how she was used in Infinite Crisis was a nice throwback.
    The art switch was a bit unsettling given the two have such different styles.
    In the end, I think Dark Crisis had a lot of promise but just hasn’t worked for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Red Canary? Ooooh-kay. “That ripped leggings look is so declassé, darling” (Whut? I just turned into Craig Revel Horwood!) Still at least she’s not festooned with tattoos, as far as we can see. The mask makes her look a little like the Huntress (which one? Whichever). Is she a legacy character connected to the Dinahs Drake and Lance? Hm. Is there a logical in-store why out of all the skilled characters Damaniac chose her? I like her “Holy crow!” exclamation. Agreeably silly but characterful. Compare and contrast with the “Rude.” which is indicative of the dull stereotypical way many modern characters (and people!) speak.
      Dr Light II! YAYYY! And she knows to call apes *apes* and not “monkeys”. I approve, pedantically yet righteously. Ha.
      Those tuning forks. Still around? Seems unlikely but Krona took a peak at the creation of the universe and things went kerflooey so… I can’t remember did the tuning fork from Infinite Crisis get trashed?
      Power Giiiiiiirrrrrrllllll!
      Someone should slap that stupid baseball cap off Roy Harper/Speedy/Arseh0lenal/Red Arrow’s head. See kids, drugs *are* bad for you. (I’ll refrain from making a bad taste joke about Jay Leno and cars here)
      The boy w***ker! Spot on. 5′ 4”? He wishes. 5′ 0″ more like. Coincidentally that matches his statistics for costume and charm. Five and zero out of ten.
      Damian Wayne Vs the Darkness? Does he believe in a thing called love?
      Nice review, Martin. You are tempting me to look at JSA All-Stars. Was it any good?


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