When the three words “crisis,” “infinite,” and “Earths” are put together, you know things are about to get bumpy in the DC Universe. However, the issue more so functions as a focal point for action that transpired in the tie-ins rather than the actual series with action being limited to only a couple of pages. Still, Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #4 is generous when it comes to the art of the action panels and set-ups for the next installment.
As per usual, there are several variants by an array of comic artists with some big names coming to the table. Series regular artist Daniel Sampere turns our attention (and Pariah’s) to the original Flash and Green Lanterns themselves – Barry Allen and Hal Jordan, the last remnants of the original Justice League. The facial art here by Sampere is the main focus with the background being empty space (literally). What you see here will be the main focus of this issue’s story – a big departure from the next-gen heroes that have been playing the underdogs.
Terry and Rachel Dodson give us a variant that some readers wish were a real comic issue. It’s Diana and Yara vs. Doomsday! That is a great match-up. The Wonder Women use their respective rope-based weapons on the unstoppable beast that once totaled the Man of Steel. The Dodsons give this beat-down their recognizable laminated-textured art style that makes for comfortable viewing. Judging by the clouds, they’re up several thousand feet pounding Doomsday through the clouds. Superman would be proud.
One of two Crisis On Infinite Earth referencing variants was done by Brett Booth in collaboration with Jonathan Glapion. One of the most shocking moments in Crisis On Infinite Earths was the death of Barry Allen as the original Flash. Glapion and Booth reference this front and center with The Flash’s mask held up. In the background, 80s-style Superman, Batman, Waverider, Green Arrow, Batgirl, and Green Lantern squared off either against each other or an unseen enemy concealed by the fist holding up Flash’s mask. The bottom is juxtaposed with several heads of alternate Hawkmen – a style synonymous with Crisis on Infinite Earths. Glapion and Booth have succeeded in giving an older comic a contemporary make-over while staying true to the original appearances.
The second variant that references the original Crisis event, and possibly Flashpoint, is Viktor Bogdanovic’s variant. Barry and Hal are once again the focus as they are on the issue. The Flash runs forward with various windows into the Earths that Pariah had sent the Justice League which all have their own one-shot issues. We’ve already reviewed the Superman one here. The focus of each dimensional window is the respective Justice League members and what they have become on their own Earths, much to the style of the original Flashpoint cover. The actual Crisis event is referenced in the title’s font and styling. Bogdanovic does more with his variant than just reference past comic events, he gives a full view of the Justice League we haven’t seen since the event began and hopes that they can return. His light-textured art style fits that mood well.
Superman legend Dan Jurgens teams up with Norm Rapmund another indicator that The Flash is getting to the bottom of where the Justice League is with him running between the space between dimensions and seeing their faces. But they aren’t despairing, they look ready – ready to leave that is. The hope and the manifestations are real with this variant. It’s got all the bold colors and style of a comic made anywhere from the late 90s to the early 2000s. It also kind of harkens back to Jurgens’ modern run on Actions Comics four years ago when Superman also traveled to different dimensions and times.
Deathstroke, controlled by Pariah, and his army of C-tier villains have been a thorn in everyone’s side this event and gets a proper homage with Nathan Szerdy’s variant. By now, it’s no mistake that his actions aren’t his own and Pariah is using him as a pawn. This is illustrated with the dark cosmic energy slowly overtaking him like a symbiote. Szerdy’s art is so smooth and rounded in some areas that it looks computer-generated, especially Slade’s clenched fist.
The last variant is a fun one by David Nakayama. Zatanna continues to be a fan favorite alongside Dick Grayson and one of the foremost forces of magic in the DC Universe. DC has been on a streak within the last month releasing cute variants and Nakayama contributes with this enchanting (pun intended) and glamorous Zatanna. Nakayama takes a realistic approach with all textures on point. The pink background with popping yellow stars really help even make the words “Dark Crisis” on the bottom look whimsical.
We find that Hal was sent to an alternate Green Lantern-occupied world where is a villain but is saved by not Wally West, but Barry Allen as The Flash. For readers not in the loop or reading The Flash series and other Dark Crisis tie-ins, Barry clarifying that Wally was able to find him may suffice as a valid explanation. That seems like (and it was) a cosmic jailbreak adventure that would’ve been nice to show in just a couple of small panels. It’s told rather than shown here which may not work for some readers that strictly stick to the main series. Barry explains that he has been able to see all the “dead” Justice League members in worlds of their own, as seen in various one-shot tie-ins also outside the main series. Barry is on a quest to free them but needs Hal’s help. These two’s friendship is nearly on par with Booster Gold’s and Blue Beetle’s, so it’s great to see them together.
Meanwhile, Jon and all the heroes who volunteered as the replacement Justice League have proved that they are able to keep the world safe, but at this point, it’s more of a band-aid for what’s to come as Mister Terrific acknowledges. Meanwhile, Alan Scott the original Green Lantern consoles Nightwing at the recovering Beast Boy’s bedside. Nightwing knows that there is something darker out there that really wants to hurt them.
Black Adam, along with the Legion of Doom with whom he had just rendezvous, are the only ones who see action in this issue with Deathstroke and his army launching an attack on the Legion’s swamp headquarters. If you’re a Superman fan, then you must be a Lex Luthor fan when that bald billionaire lets loose in his robot suit. That is exactly what we get here along with all your favorite villains taking a stand in a very Forever Evil-esque way. But are they enough to stop Pariah with how much progress he has made in his plans for new multiversal creation?
Sampere has some little and big visual highlights. The small spaced-out panels of the various members of the new Justice League doing heroic feats like Jon and Power Girl saving a falling plane and some humble heroes just delivering first aid equipment. Granted it’s only two pages, but he also really choreographed some awesome panels with Lex Luthor against Deathstroke. His cold taunting dialogue by Williamson also gives the reader chills as Superman’s archenemy calls out the Teen Titans’ foe. Sampere and Williamson have never disappointed with an action scene thus far.
Alejandro Sanchez’s coloring really shines here in a cinematographic sense. For scenes with Flash and Green Lantern, orange and green are the main colors for the backgrounds. When Alan Scott is with Dick in Beast Boy’s hospital room, there is dark lighting as if they are in shadows – makes sense since they don’t want to blind Garfield when he wakes up. Pariah is always surrounded by a dark violet cosmic background is another great thematic use of color.
Dark Crisis On Infinite Earths #4 feels like Joshua Williamson had to pump the breaks to allow some of the tie-in material to catch up and exposition into the main series. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t at least some entertaining and even heartfelt moments in it. Barry Allen’s return is definitely a game-changer because he’s been to the other side – a stark contrast from the original Crisis event where his death was a game-changer. The true main stars of this issue are the villains with their own climatic stand.