Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #4 review

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My Dungeons and Dragons session got cancelled today, and I’m blaming it all on Dark Crisis.

Oh, sorry. Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths, apparently. I find it funny how excited DC was to market this name change – before it even happened in the story, no less! It makes a gal wonder if I should bother using a spoiler tag at all. Why should I? What does this book reveal that the title doesn’t already?

In fact, here. Take a look at the last page of Dark Crisis #4.

I bet that would have been real annoying, had this not already been spoiled. This might have actually been cool if we didn’t know it was coming – mind you, it’d be even cooler if it had any weight to it. Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths is obsessed with telling you things, like how each character fits into the larger timeline of the DC “metaverse”, or with clear-cut monologues as to why each villain does what they do. Exposition is fun when you’re reading something like an in-universe history book – The World of Ice and Fire springs to mind – but we’re talking about a comic book where things should happen! It’s not as if this is a deeply introspective comic about flawed characters reflecting on themselves. This is an event book! And yet, it has felt like nothing has truly happened to progress the plot, until the MacGuffin Machine in the background inepxlicably revives the Infinite Earths.

Like, does this mean anything to you guys? I’m not saying comics can’t be dumb and contrived, but it’s difficult when you don’t have a level of authenticity to ground you. Conversations don’t feel real – they feel like excuses for Joshua Williamson to get a reference in. Like here, when he tries to address Vandal Savage and Lex Luthor being on the Legion of Doom together:

And then you get to scenes like this, where you realize that one of the few major mysteries established in Williamson’s own story – the disappearance of Barry Allen – is tackled in a Flash tie-in, as opposed to the resolution happening in the main comic. Having important stuff happening in tie-ins is fine to a point, but the central premise of this book right now is that every character is waiting for Deathstroke and the Great Darkness to do something! There’s no momentum! And you’re going to take one of the few compelling threads this book has going for it, and you’re giving it away?

So little of this book is dedicated to anything other than talk, talk, talking, as if it has so much that it needs to establish. I feel like even Death Metal had less dialogue than this, and that had to set up an entire new universe! Don’t quote me on that, though – both Death Metal and Dark Crisis have what I feel is the same underlying problem. Why are we making huge, universe-spanning events dedicated to explaining away continuity problems? Why is that the thing DC has to be so wrapped up in whenever a Crisis comes up? Can’t we have a huge event for its own sake? Why must these stories be about overcompensating for your company’s own mistakes?

And don’t say this book is about letting new heroes take the spotlight. It’s not. Superboy has three lines this issue, and since forming the Justice League, he has done nothing. The issue opens with Mister Terrific saying “hope for the best, plan for the worst”, and that sentiment carries over for the writing. Dark Crisis takes every opportunity to assuage the reader not to panic. “Those previous missteps the company has taken? This is the book that solves it. It’s impossible for you to dislike this book, because look! We’re bringing back your favourite characters, we’re bringing back Infinite Earths, and all the continuity mistakes will definitely make sense!” I don’t care! These are dot points on a fan’s Reddit wishlist, not an actual story! Be brave, be bold! Be like the creators who established the world you’re playing in. Don’t just dump a bunch of action figures you own into a pile and call it a day.

I ask this to the people working on Dark Crisis – why do you like superheroes? There has to be something specific. Is it the costumes? The action? Then create a story that shows exciting and compelling action, Joshua Williamson did with Robin. If you like them for the characters, there are ways you can turn this into something more personal – Heroes in Crisis has many flaws, but it tries to best to keep its focus on character. If you like superhero fiction for the continuity and the lore, then write a fictional history book. There are better things to put in the biggest event of the year.

I’d like to apologize for not spending enough time talking about the art – wonderfully realized by Daniel Sampere and Alejandro Sánchez, yet again. It’s frustrating, because in a better, more exciting book, I’d be eager to sing praises for this art! Sampere and Sánchez make scenes coherent when they would normally seem too busy, and they give an emotional presence to scenes where I think the dialogue falls flat. But the art is only as good as what it’s representing, and I sadly feel this book fails to represent anything worth reading.

Recommended If:

  • You are so eager to unravel the web of DC continuity, that you’re less fussed about what’s going on with the narrative.
  • The Legion of Doom showing up gets you excited for what other surprises the book has in store.
  • You’ve spent every second of your life since Crisis on Infinite Earths thinking, “boy I sure hope those Infinite Earths come back! I hope they spoil that in the title, even!”

Overall

The most telling thing about Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths is that the reveal came about in a press release before the story. This book has beats that sound great on a Wikipedia article – but a beat without a rhythm will not make you a song.

…That, and I still can’t rule out the possibility that Dark Crisis cancelled my D&D.

Score: 2.5/10

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Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.

Author’s Twitter: @ObnoxiousFinch


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