It’s a lot to read, but at least click on the “Pariah” link for an old classic ProgRuin post from back when the site was good.

§ July 8th, 2022 § Filed under this week's comics § 5 Comments

[SPOILERS for Dark Crisis]

I suppose I’ll have a more comprehensive post on this series when it’s over, if I have anything to say about it in the context of DC’s ongoing Crisiseseses. (I should note that I asked the Bits Boys over on this episode of the War Rocket Ajax podcast about whether or not DC should retire the word “Crisis” from their events…a hint as to my suggested replacement is in the episode’s title.)

Like many of DC’s events, we’re dipping back into that Crisis on Infinite Earths well, where the character of Pariah, introduced in that 30-year-old series, is back as the apparent antagonist of this current story. How this will eventually play out in the inevitable “make Crisis on Infinite Earths never not-was” conclusion, I don’t know yet, but maybe this will get it out of the publisher’s system and we can finally go back to crossover events where heroes are, I don’t know, saving the world or something and not just puppets in the latest metatextual rejiggerings of their fictional milieu.

But as someone who read said Crisis on Infinite Earths way back when, who experienced it as it should have been experienced, in real time, anticipating building for each monthly issue to see what new, irrevocable changes have been made to the DC Universe. Anyone coming to it after the fact misses that primary ingredient of the event, the expectation that what we’re seeing really is big, permanent change, and the combination of uneasiness and excitement at what was coming. The story of COIE itself is a sloppy mess, though beautifully drawn by George Perez, but the story is almost beside the point. The point is Big Events, Worlds Living, Worlds Dying, Things Never Being The Same, and the plot just drives you from one happening to the next one.

Ever since, I’ve had an ongoing interest in all these regular multiversal shenanigans. Sometimes it’s genuine interest in the story, too often it’s the rubbernecking at a car wreck, and overall it’s the continuing observation of figuring out new and even more convoluted ways to either undo COIE or route around its damage. So far I haven’t quite gleaned how that’s going to happen in Dark Crisis yet, though hints have been dropped. We’ll get to it when we get to it, I suppose.

The secondary purpose of the series is to establish the importance of the “next generation” of heroes in the DC Universe, following the “death” of the Justice League. Look, we all know the JLA ain’t dead, at least not all permanent-like, and that the “new generation” will never take over for the regular heroes. Superman will always be Clark Kent, Batman will always be Bruce Wayne, etc., barring a huge industry-wide shift away from superheroes like what happened in the late ’40s/early ’50s, providing a natural break to introduce new versions of old characters (though Supes, Bats, and Wonder Woman didn’t change over even then). At best Dark Crisis may support the ongoing viability of DC’s various new mostly-legacy characters, introducing them to the new readers via this crossover event. A primary goal of team-up books is to expose readers to other characters, and this latest event is no different.

As to the actual contents of the comic itself…it’s fine as these things go. Nicely drawn, an interesting subplot of the new Superman, Jon Kent, trying and not succeeding at forming a new Justice League, a knock-down, drag-out fight between Nightwing and Deathstroke, a good fake-out with Beast Boy. Oh, and Black Adam is featured in this series, too, because he’s Coming Soon to a Theater Near You, so why not. Actually, I sort of like Adam’s new status as Adversarial Sometimes-Ally, which is more interesting than yet another Pure Evil Guy, which we’ve been getting for a while. And two members of the Justice League who did not “die,” Green Lantern and the Flash, have important roles to play as well (particularly with GL in #2), so by and large I’ve liked these first couple of issues. There’s a lot happening, it’s got that COIE tie-in that I’m both tired of and compelled by, and it looks nice. Pretty much what I want from a dopey superhero comic.

Also I wanted to note that I really liked this variant cover for Justice League: Road to Dark Crisis #1:

I think DC just dropped a hint at the secret identity of Flaming Carrot.

5 Responses to “It’s a lot to read, but at least click on the “Pariah” link for an old classic ProgRuin post from back when the site was good.”

  • Billy says:

    “Back when this site was good”

    Hot Take: This site just keeps getting better and better.

  • Chris Gumprich says:

    I once did the math and worked out it would take me a little under 17 and a half days to read 5000 comics, assuming that it truly is a single sitting without sleep.

    Coincidentally, I have a few weeks of vacation coming up…

  • Thom H. says:

    “maybe this will get it out of the publisher’s system and we can finally go back to crossover events where heroes are, I don’t know, saving the world or something and not just puppets in the latest metatextual rejiggerings of their fictional milieu.”

    Let’s hope. It would be nice if DC would stop telling us how they’re going to tell stories and just actually tell stories. We get it. There’s a multiverse again or whatever.

  • Brian says:

    I was a little too young to pick up the original Crisis when it was first published, but as a big DC fan have since collected that as well as several of the other events you refer to. And I’ve got to say, though not perfect, if you start with COIE, then follow it with The Kingdom, Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis and its various prologue mini-series, the weekly 52, Final Crisis, Multiversity, Metal, Scott Snyder’s Justice League, Death Metal and, lastly, the two-issue Generations book came out immediately after Death Metal, you get a messy but coherent epic of the fall and rise of DC’s infinite earths/timelines. Point being, Dark Crisis just doesn’t seem necessary. It’s an odd book. Josh Williamson clearly has a love for his DC lore and continuity, but, for Dark Crisis to really be effective, it would have had to be THE ONLY sequel to COIEs. But it’s not, and so far a lot of the “beats” — the villain who gathers a massive army of villains, the COIE survivor who wants to turn back the clock, the concept of a BIG BAD who was really behind all of the other crises — are from all of those other crises (particularly Infinite Crisis, Final Crisis and Snyder’s Justice League). Also when the original COIE came out, the DC line was just so robust, with lots of different titles/choices. So that book was really a celebration of the company and its history. In contrast, I find DC’s current output pretty stale – lots of variations on Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, few quirky books starring the lesser known heroes/characters. Williamson is using some of them in Dark Crisis (Frankenstein, the Blue Beetles, Doctor Light) but rather than a celebration, it feels like a sad reminder of all the potential the company is currently squandering.

  • DK says:

    Pariah, NO! You are going to get grease all over that rare book, don’t they have slabbing in your dimension?