Dark Crisis: Big Bang #1 review

‘I’m looking for the man who murdered me’, Flash Barry Allen tells Kid Flash Wallace on the splash page. The line makes for a dramatic opening, but it’s a tad defused when, a couple of pages later, we get this.

I admit, I can’t remember how Barry came back from the dead about 15 years ago, and if I look it up I’ll fall into a rabbit hole harder to get out of than any Speed Force prison, so I’ll have to accept Barry’s word for it. As with the Death of Superman, our hero wasn’t really dead (maybe it’s something to do with that one-off story in which Barry became the very same lightning bolt that empowered him in the first place).

Anyway, Barry’s been exploring and cataloguing parallel Earths and now that Pariah’s shenanigans have made 52 worlds become 52 of an infinite non-number of worlds he’s decided to find the Anti-Monitor. Barry assumes the mad god is somewhere in the new Multiverse and he wants to, first, find him, and then organise a mission to bring him down. So off he and Wallace set, popping in and out of parallel planets.

And it’s not long before Scarlet Speedster and, er, Dual Colour Dasher come across the Anti-Monitor.

So much for not being seen. Of course, Barry can think fast

Cue ‘the mightiest punch in the universe’. A left hook that propels the Anti-Monitor across several more worlds, but the giant villain rallies and Barry is in big trouble.

But he’s not alone.

Well done Wallace! The latest Kid Flash has gathered some of the Multiverse’s mightiest and posed them for a fantastic hero shot. Penciller Dan Jurgens brings his decades of experience to bear on this Dark Crisis tie-in, choreographing the action as Barry bears down on the one foe he never beat. Page after page of eye-popping action are laid out before us as writer Mark Waid has fun detailing some of the new Earths.

Well, new to Barry – we readers will recognise the worlds of the Batman ’66 TV show, the Batman ’89 film, the Jurassic League, the Charlton action heroes and more. And if you want to know more about the Earths found by Barry, there’s a handy dandy text page listing after the story.

I enjoyed this issue, even though it’s not so much a story as a DC Secret Files and Origins book writ large. Sure, there’s a through-line around Barry’s determination to stop the Anti-Monitor, but that’s just a moving Maguffin – the point of this issue is to show off the old/new worlds via the eye-popping art of Jurgens, inker Norm Rapmund and colourist Federico Blee. The Big Bang in the title presumably refers to the ending of the limitation on Earths – Barry had already been checking out the 52 worlds of the Multiversity as codified in Grant Morrison’s publishing event of the same name. Now the job could be neverending…

Of all the superbeings who show up to punch Anti-Monitor and get the odd line of dialogue, I got the biggest kick from seeing a Silver Age Superboy and Superdog. Granted, it’s not the Clark and Krypto I grew up reading, but these lookalikes from Earth-1956 will do nicely. I reckon that has to be the world of the Superboy’s Legion micro-series, but it looks like space didn’t allow that info to be added to the text page.

It’s not clear why Barry takes Wallace with him to find the Anti-Monitor – it’s the very definition of ‘liable to get you killed’ – but perhaps Barry has such faith in Kid Flash that he feels he’s able to open Wallace’s eyes to worlds of wonderment. After all, he did rescue Barry from Pariah’s prison planet prior to this issue.

Did we know Anti-Monitor was attacking parallel worlds, apparently randomly? The last I remember of him was in Justice League #37, I assumed he was floating in space forever more or something. I’m happy to say he gets a definitive send-off this time, following a last-ditch plan from Barry whose requirements the guest heroes fulfil between panels. Still, that leaves more room for us to see the likes of Earth 17 (Atomic Knights!) and Earth 20 (Pulp Heroes!).

Waid wrote one of the definitive runs on The Flash, but that featured Wally West; it’s wonderful to see him spend time with Barry, whom he’s previously touched on in limited series such as Flash and Green Lantern: The Brave and the Bold and JLA: Year One. Waid gets Barry’s intelligence, his heroic nature, his speedster’s perspective. And I adore that new phrase ‘speed of life’.

Artwise, it’s seriously difficult to pick a favourite page, given the excellent compositions, the energy on display throughout. Jurgens always gives us the best shot, and longtime partner Rapmund embellishes with intelligence. But how about this?

And Federico Blee deserves an award for not going bonkers, trying to separate so many characters from one another and the backgrounds. Extra points for the multicoloured super-speed lines here. Letterer Troy Peteri, meanwhile, presents dialogue and narration in ways that manage to be both measured and dramatic.

The cover by Mikel Janín features a striking concept, but it’s not the most representative image so far as the story is concerned. And splitting one figure into three doesn’t allow any part of the image to make an impact. Janín does a great job with what he’s apparently been briefed to do, but a ‘Barry Allen vs the Anti-Monitor: Rematch’ might have made for a more exciting, readable cover.

Hey ho, that doesn’t really take away from a fun comic – this is the best Barry Allen story we’ve seen in a while, an early Christmas present for old Flash fans.

21 thoughts on “Dark Crisis: Big Bang #1 review

  1. e name Waid almost had me getting this despite how lame every other Dork Crisis tie in I’ve been tempted by has turned out to be. After years of being jobbed and Johns defanging him with how he was written, I can’t get excited by anything Anti-Monior related. Now, if Red Canary had co-starred…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oy, Red Canary? If Delilah S. Dawson calls her “New girl!” one more time I might explode.

    She’s the writer who has written all the Red Canary content so far – she collaborated on parts of Dark Crisis: The Dark Army, and wrote the Red Canary story in Dark Crisis: War Zone. She must think somehow we didn’t notice the first 5, 10 or 15 times she used “Hey you, New Girl! You must be new, girl!”, so it still seems fresh.

    I think we should have a competition, is Red Canary going to be saying she’s the new girl longer than Naomi?

    Anyway, this Big Bang book was fun, and at least was just a regular-sized $3.99, which is a refreshing change. With Mark Waid and Dan Jurgens attached, they could have easily made this a $9.99 book.

    The Jurgens/Rapmond art was quite great.

    The story has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with Dark Crisis! I mean, the Anti-Monitor was not a factor in the Dark Crisis story. The poor lumbering giant, leave him alone! The crisis has been about Pariah and the Great Darkness (and Deathstroke, for crying out loud). But the hunt for the Anti-Monitor did provide a good context for this romp through the now Infinite Multiverse.

    I read an interview with Waid and Jurgens earlier today, at Newsarama – they stated that Wallace is just there as the stand-in for the reader. The narrative device so that Barry gets to explain things to him/us.

    https: // http://www.gamesradar . com /dark-crisis-big-bangs-waid-and-jurgens-say-dcs-future-includes-a-more-organized-approach-to-continuity/

    I have Geoff Johns’s Flash Rebirth in a box somewhere, and have considered re-reading it someday. (Flash Rebirth, as with Green Lantern Rebirth, came years before “DC Rebirth”.) The first (and only) time I read it, I truly couldn’t follow it – too many speedsters I didn’t know, too much speed force magic. But when I do re-read it, I’ll check online for help following the Johnsian convoluted story. There are plot synopses at the DC fandom wiki.

    The 2-page appendix is amusing: so, these two Kids/YA novels got singled out for special treatment:

    Earth-98 —Home of Green Lantern Tai Pham (Green Lantern: Legacy)
    Earth-100 —Home to Teen Titans Raven Roth, Garfield Logan, Damian Wayne, and others (Teen Titans: Raven et al.)

    But there are a few dozen Kids and YA novels now. The first was Mera. There have been Catwoman, Batgirl (Cassandra), Oracle, Harley Quinn, several versions of Wonder Woman, Starfire, Poison Ivy, Lois Lane, Aqualad, Swamp Thing… Countless variations of Batman and Robin, and Jon Kent, and Bruce Wayne in school, and various Robins of different ages. You get a universe… you get a universe… you get a universe…

    If Bombshells gets a universe, what about Gotham City Garage? Ami-Comi Girls? Is someone at DC going to start assigning numbers to every Elseworld story and Black Label mini-series? And wouldn’t many individual stories in the 80-page holiday anthologies be set on their own earths? (I guess that would depend on whether the story had characters or events that couldn’t be reconciled with any established continuity.) And, all the imaginary tales!

    How many earths do you think they would be up to? More than ten thousand? Probably.

    I thought I’d already seen attempts to label all those alternatives. At the DC wiki, you can look at the list of female characters starting with K:

    https: // dc.fandom . com/wiki/Category:Female_Characters?from=K

    and then scroll down, to find all the versions of Kara (Zor-El, but also Jor-El, Kent, etc., and Zor-L for some Power Girl versions).

    Many are not numbered, like Kara Jor-El (Ame-Comi), Kara Zor-El (Cosmic Adventures), but among the numbered I see earths:

    3, 1098, 22, 2, 16, 22, 31, 91, 149, 167, 192, 332, 423, etc. Many, many more.

    I don’t know who assigned these. Maybe the volunteers at this wiki itself.

    423 is the Supergirl in Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow – Superman #423. 332 is the Superwoman of Action #332. 149 is an imaginary story from Superman #149. I’m seeing the pattern.

    But the Earth-3 version is from Crime Syndicate #4 – the series from just last year. This gets complicated, because that series didn’t feature the traditional Earth-3. Wasn’t Superwoman now Donna instead of Lois, or vice versa? This shouldn’t be Earth-3. It should be Earth-Crime-Syndicate-2021.

    That’s where an Omniverse would come in handy – an infinite number of Multiverses, each multiverse having its own Earth-3. (At least, that’s what I thought the Omniverse implied.) But I think the Omniverse is already an obsolete concept.

    Can’t think about it tooooo much.

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    1. I think Red Canary has a chance of being New Girl longer than I-predict-she’ll-be-ignored Naomi. Then again, I also predict Red Canary has been created as Dark Crisis cannon fodder.

      I do think it’s silly to an assign an Earth on the basis of a single story, such as that Adventure Comics, unless it’s a Big Deal Introduction in a JLA/JSA team-up.

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  3. Waid’s involvement almost has me interested.
    Hey Martin or any other Dark Crisis readers, help me understand something…
    As I’ve complained on here repeatedly about Dark Crisis, DC HAS a multi-verse, so I’m not sure what Pariah’s bringing back? Also, and I would have to go back and re-read this, but I’m pretty certain that at the end of either Metal or Death Metal (or both), the 52 Earths were done away with for a limitless number. The Source Wall was broken, there was an “omniverse” and limitless potential out there.
    That, as you noted above Martin, was why Barry Allen was speeding around categorizing stuff. Because there ALREADY WAS a much larger multi-verse.
    So I’m really confused – and wondering if Waid is, too – about why ANY OF THIS has ANYTHING to do with Pariah/Dark Crisis.
    I feel like really I should by this, take a magic marker, and any references to “Pariah/Dark Crisis” in the book should be crossed out and replaced with “Scott Snyder/Death Metal”.
    I’m joking but not joking. Everything I’ve read of this issue to me feels like it should have been published two years and change ago when that last “Crisis” event occurred.
    It sounds like a fun issue. But taken as a part of Dark Crisis, it just doesn’t make any damn sense. It really seems like DC has decided to totally ignore Snyder’s Metal/Justice League/Death Metal epic and replace it with Dark Crisis, which is just frustratingly bizarre to me because it was a far more ambitious, creative and better written event than Dark Crisis has been.
    And I don’t think this is “fanboy/continuity nut nitpicking.” This is looking at a comics company that claims to have a cohesive universe of characters and saying, “Um, you guys are LITERALLY ignoring dozens of comics that you sold just a few years ago and assuming readers have forgotten them or will just look the other way.” That’s not supposed to be how this works.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The former multiverse was also returned in Convergence so this is an ongoing thing for DC. Crisis seems to be one of their two best sellers (Batman related titles being the other) so they’ll keep doing them whether or not they make sense.

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    2. Brilliant post Brian, thank you! The idea that this was planned two years ago makes huge sense. The only thing it has to do with Dark Crisis is that Wallace is with Barry in the Cosmic Aquarium (I can’t spell that O-word). Then again, he could have visited him there two years ago. So it’s instant head canon for me that this is a held-over story.

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  4. And the fact that Josh Williamson was part of the brain trust (the other folks being Snyder and James Tynion) that was heavily involved in the Metal/Death Metal era yet is the architect of Dark Crisis makes this even more astonishing/worse. Was the end of the Snyder/DC relationship a bitter one? It’s just so bizarre to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. T.N., I appreciate the Oprah Winfrey joke. It really made me laugh. The image of gift-wrapped universes for characters is amusing. Perhaps Tom Poozer could jump and down on the sofa as they were given out.

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    1. Thanks, George, I’m glad you liked it, though I can’t take much credit, because I admit I was deliberately quoting Jeremy Adams, who used essentially the same joke TWICE during Dark Crisis.

      Most recently, in Dark Crisis: The Dark Army, where Linda says “A bomb for you, and you… and you…”

      And prior to that, in Flash #786, where Jai goes “And you get a thunderclap! And you get a thunderclap!”

      Frankly I was surprised Adams re-used the joke so soon. It was funny the first time he did it, but not fresh the second time.

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  6. Apparently Barry Allen came back with memory damage as the Anti-Monitor *didn’t* “murder” him. The Anti-Monitor murdered Supergirl, Barry gave his life to destroy the Anti-Monitor’s, uh, big cannon. (Repeat after me: “NOOOOOO!” That Auntie Monitor, she was such a sore loser!) I preferred Barry when he was dead!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Not really. It took me a bit to root out my copy of Crisis – which I’d only recently part re-read – to check but Flash escapes, gets the Psycho-Pirate to help, then sacrifices himself to destroy the Anti-Monitor’s big cannon.
        So, no, Barry Allen is wrong to say A-M *murdered* him – even if Flash and everyone else would have died if Auntie had succeeded – tho’ I suppose “I’m looking for the thing whose actions led to me sacrificing myself in order to save what was left of the Multiverse” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, it would be taking the pith out of it. *Wokka wokka wokka!*

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  7. The Dual-Color Dasher! Nice!

    I really dug this one, lightweight as it was. There’s nothing at all to the story, as you say, but it’s nice to see some old faces again.

    As for the Earth-1956 Superboy, I don’t think he’s from the Superboy’s Legion mini; I just reread that this weekend, and Superboy in that story wasn’t found till the 30th century! The backmatter says the Super Friends emerged on the earth shortly after, so I’m assuming Superboy’s appearance there is from the 1966 Superboy & Krypto cartoons from Filmation. Maybe it’s a typo and it’s supposed to be 1966? Or maybe they just didn’t want it confused with the Batman 66 universe, which is simply Earth 66.

    But the main thing I love is that Barry used our world — Earth 33 — as an index! He supersped through our comic collections reading Wonder Woman: Amazonia or whatever just to have an idea where to catalog the worlds! And he picked up books for his OWN collection, because BARRY IS A COMIC COLLECTOR.

    I mean, he has been from the start, but that hasn’t been touched on for decades! I’m *so* happy about that. It means Superboy Prime isn’t the only comic collector in the DCU — there are happy, well-adjusted ones, too.

    There’s hope for us all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my, excellent detective work on Superboy and Superdog, I’d forgotten all the details of Superboy’s Legion. I never knew there was a Sixties Filmation cartoon. I’m soooo young.

      I can’t remember Barry’s comics habit being mentioned post Bates and Novick, so hurrah!

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  8. I skipped the Dark Crisis miniseries but read some of the specials that tied into it, including this one. I bought Big Bang for the Dan Jurgens pemcils. I enjoyed this one a heck of a lot. It was a fun story with fantastic artwork.

    My only criticism was that the Mikel Janín cover was really poor. You have a story featuring the Flash leading some of the Multiverse’s greatest heroes into battle against the Anti-Monitor. Instead of showcasing THAT on your cover, you have Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman from Earth-118 getting smooshed together, or something. It’s a baffling decision. At least the variant cover by Ariel Colón played up the fun “return of the Multiverse” aspect

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I said pretty much the same thing, so I commend you on your taste and intelligence, Ben! Just think of the amazing things we might have been given. I’m a fan of MJ but superhero bombast isn’t his forte… I’d rather have had a Jurgens image.

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