Dark Crisis #1
Written by Joshua Williamson
Art by Daniel Sampere
Colors by Alejandro Sánchez
Letters by Tom Napolitano
It starts with a flame.
A candle held by a man set upon a path for good by the most sinister act ever put upon him. Bruce Wayne’s choice to put on the cowl saved so many and inspired many more but neither Bruce nor Batman were perfect. Dick Grayson learned from his surrogate’s fathers faults and shortcomings to become a better person. A person who stood by his friend and embraces them with warmth and love when they need it most. Dark Crisis #1 picks up after the death of the Justice League to a world in morning. To heroes needing a light to follow into the dark unknowns of the future overshadowed by the shroud of evil. But Batman lit that light for Dick Grayson. A light he now carries to lead us all through another Crisis.
You know the Justice League isn’t dead. I know the Justice League isn’t dead. Joshua Williamson know the Justice League isn’t dead. That’s the thing though, this isn’t about the finality of death. The story in Dark Crisis and the Road to Dark Crisis actually focuses on that death is a revolving door. What does death mean in a world where there are literal hot tubs of Lazarus juice to bring you back to life? What is the interim like when all the biggest heroes have quote unquote bitten the dust? That’s what Dark Crisis is exploring.
In the past few years, DC has changed their tune about a few major things in their universe. The one that Dark Crisis is putting on full display is legacy. Characters like Jon, Dick, Wally, and Damian take the forefront of this issue while the big names are gone. Yara Flor and The Batman of New York are both attempted to be brought into the fold as the newest generation but each has their own issues. They have not yet been drawn into the legacy battles which makes them unique in their own right with appearances in this issue. There is a 2 page spread towards the beginning of the issue that shows nearly the entire breadth of the idea of legacy in the DC universe which is something that was stomped down for some time. Something that makes DC special is the legacies that the heroes pass down like Bruce to Dick or Barry to Wally. This is Williamson’s way of saying that we shouldn’t fear legacy but embrace it as they are embracing that nothing is final.
Let’s talk about Williamson for a moment, shall we? He’s been the main architect of the DC Universe since the start of Infinite Frontier with his hand in every major cookie pot across the multiverse. Hints, teasers, and building blocks have been scattered through each of his books leading up until the opening of Dark Crisis. So much of it is under the spotlight now as we see one of his main focuses in Deathstroke going full heel. When I recently interviewed Williamson, I wasn’t going to walk away without the confrontation of what Deathstroke truly is. He’s done horrific things that I consider worse than some things we’ve seen other big name villains like Lex Luthor or Joker do. For me, there was no line to walk for a monster like him. It turns out this is where that journey was going. To show you, the reader, that Deathstroke is evil. He’s a villain. A monster. There is no true fall from grace when you belong in hell.
Daniel Sampere’s art career has been one I’ve watched with glee as I cheer from the rafters. I don’t even have to open a book since I have a page from his Future State: Aquaman on my wall. The expressiveness of emotion in his drawing elevates scenes from dialogue and punching to something where you can read a character’s emotions on their face alone. The aforementioned 2 page spread of DC’s legacies is one of the most beautiful displays of talent I have ever seen. That alone makes this issue worth picking up to just look over for a time to look at how divine it is. Matched with Alejandro Sánchez’s colors, the art is a true highlight of this book. There is something about the coloring of this issue that makes me feel like I’m reading the DC comics classics that raised me. They’re vibrant, bombastic, but have the palette range to show the true darkness of evil lurking in the universe while never losing their flair. Tom Napolitano’s letters take actions to the next level with heightened levels of those expressions and actions of the characters. That doesn’t come as a shock to me as Tom is a living legend when it comes to DC lettering. I’m not sure there is a name I’ve had to say more in my time as a comics personality.
With so much on display in the first issue of Dark Crisis, it truly stands as the first Crisis since the final one years ago. The fire that Crisis on Infinite Earths lit in me as a young reader still burns as bright today as the one Batman lit for Robin. But Crises aren’t a happy thing. All things end, even for a time. Red skies, horrors beyond compare, and so much evil lies beyond the first issue. As I closed the first issue, I felt a fire extinguish as something I never saw coming happened.
It ends with a bang. But remember…death isn’t final.