Dark Crisis #2 sees the siege on Titans Tower and the next generation of heroes by a possessed rogues gallery. Joshua Williamson and Daniel Sampere give us glorious panel-by-panel fight choreography and fully complete their introduction of our main cast of young heroes coming together in this crisis event.
The iconography of these battles is all too familiar while the characters like Dick as Nightwing and John as Superman give them an almost new feel entirely. While the main antagonist Pariah only makes an appearance in the first couple of pages and the issue is more about testing the young heroes’ mantle than moving his master plan forward, there is plenty to remember about this great action-packed issue.
There is a lot to love about the art within the pages of Dark Crisis #2, but we’ll start with the covers as always. Major events are usually generous with variants as you may have seen with the first one, but it also continues with the first couple of issues as well.
Sampere and colorists Alejandro Sanchez’s default cover for Dark Crisis #2 tell you all you need to know about the story so far and what to expect – Nightwing and Deathstroke fighting set to the ruined Titans Tower surrounded by a horde of cheering villains. The Tower has a more contemporary and modern design, but the T-shape still makes it undeniably the headquarters that has been associated with the Teen Titans for over 40 years. Dick Grayson vs. Slade Wilson is also a battle that dates back as much as the tower. Sanchez’s sunrise-like color palette for explosions and fire on this cover are commonly used in the pages set to battle scenes. This cover does its job in setting the story and the tone quite literally.
Lucio Parrillo also illustrates the ruined Titans Tower in his variant – this time with just Deathstroke. The Terminator is on his knees as the base of operations for his enemies burns, but he’s not himself. There is a noticeable dark mist coming from his head and hands, conveying that the work behind him was not his own. At this point, it’s no mystery that Pariah has access to the Great Darkness and plans to remake the multiverse with it and he’s beginning by taking control of the DC Universe’s villains. The orange color palette shines once again here and Parillo is able to pinpoint some fine details with his art style.
Rafael Sarmento keeps the tradition of homaging original crisis events with his variant detailing the original Crisis On Two Earth’s event that introduced the Justice League of Earth-1 to the Justice Society of Earth-2. Their first encounter using a crystal ball as a live feed between worlds is one of the lesser, but still iconic covers of DC’s history. Sarmento captures the Justice League with all their classical looks as they make contact with Earth-2 for the first time ever with his very smooth art style.
The new Trinity gets some tributes with our last two variants. Juliet Nneka makes sure Jace Fox and Yara-Flor get some love while they don’t appear in this specific issue. The classic back-to-back pose with the arms cross gives the cover a sort of photo aspect while Nneka adds some realism with her handling of faces and proportions. Mario Foccillo takes the pop art approach with the new Trinity using red, blue, and yellow exclusively. Batman gets the most juxtaposition on the bottom half of the cover while Superman and Wonder Woman takes the top. If you like Andy Warhol pieces, then you will love this variant.
Pariah has seized control of some of DC’s most menacing villains and is using them to sow chaos in order to bring about a new Crisis to remake the multiverse with the Great Darkness – an element of creation. With the Justice League gone, readers were left on the edge of their seats as the last bastion that is Titans Tower comes under attack by Deathstroke leading an army of rogues. Amplified by the Darkness, their hunger for vengeance on their enemies is driving them completely – that makes Slade Wilson especially deadly. He did a number on Beast Boy that will leave some fans traumatized. Nightwing, the Optimus Prime of the Teen Titans, leads the counter-attack and tends to his students like the proper action hero of the story that he is.
Comic books can go places that normal books can’t, and panel-by-panel action scenes are their strongest territory. As the reader, you are no longer focusing on dialogue, the deeper message, or any other of that literature class jazz. You’re watching two individuals beat each other down. Comic artists really get to shine here and show you what they are really made of. Every fist or weapon colliding with a face and accompanying onomatopoeia is Sampere crushing the paper with his pen. The Nightwing vs. Deathstroke spread is one of the best action sequences in comics this year. The Teen Titans fan in me had a much-needed revival.
We also get some awesome Superman action as Jon swoops in to assist Dick. Deathstroke has a weapon against him with Cyborg Superman. It’s a high-flying feud with Jon fighting possibly the hardest we’ve ever seen him against one of the first people to originally try to replace the Man of Steel – and Hank Henshaw acknowledges it. With the villains Williamson has given us so far, it seems that he is utilising more recent DC bad guys, and by recent, I mean from the 70s at the latest. Jon wasn’t going against a Golden Age villain like the Ultra-Humanite for example and Deathstroke is a Marv Wolfman and George Perez classic. If the hero landscape is changing, then is the villain’s one changing as well? It will be interesting to see what Dark Crisis does with the villains of DC with that in mind, especially with all of them acting as pawns of Pariah.
Dark Crisis #2 puts our new heroes to the test while Pariah lingers in the background as his mind-controlled minions do his dirty work. They definitely do come across as the underdogs at this point. But they’re still standing and that resilience is going to be needed.