Dark Crisis On Infinite Earths #5 is here and it’s time to sound the alarms as the return of the Justice League is hinted at and the possessed army of villains turn their attention to the Hall of Justice.
The best part about this book is that if you are a Superman fan then by golly, this book has a special treat for you. It’s an especially worthy pay-off if you’ve been reading the ‘World Without a Justice League‘ issues and tie-ins. Joshua Williamson and Daniel Sampere continue to deliver on DC’s biggest event as it begins to move into the endgame with two issues left.
The Justice League’s return is inevitable in Sampere’s default cover with Alejandro Sanchez. We see the respective alternative versions of each member from the Earths where they solely existed – Pariah’s idea of prison for them. We had some really excellent stories by great writers and artists come out of those, but now the heroes are breaking free. Their juxtaposition next to the bright planet Earth suggests they are truly coming home. Sampere continues to prove that he was the right artist for the job here. Sanchez helps give the cover a sort of pop that just sits so well with the comic book medium.
Ivan Reis and Dan Miki are DC well-knowns and give niche heroes their due with their variant cover. Yara Flor leads a charge on a Pegasus in true Greek hero fashion of some of the more minor background heroes of the event that are still given a line of dialogue or two to establish their presence. Damian does have a pretty prevalent role in the story. You know it’s bad when the Hall of Justice has been attacked and it looks like that’s exactly what they’re defending. Reis always boasted a hardy comic book art style and Miki always gets the shading just right.
Mateus Manhanini pays homage to one of the more hard-hitting DC Crisis events, Identity Crisis by Brad Meltzer, with his variant. The Justice League of the mid-2000s lines the cover in mourning with Superman in the center sadly shedding tears. If you know the terrible story, then you would know that this is the funeral of Elongated Man’s wife. This variant truly comes out of nowhere as Identity Crisis’ place as an actual crisis event is debated among fans. But there’s no scene like an emotional scene to showcase your art style and that is what Manhanini does. The primary use of purple and orange does help this cover catch your eye off the comic shop shelf. There’s almost a sort of 3-D feel to how Manhanini shades and colors everything.
Arial Colon has cooked up a variant cover that fits the Halloween season with how scary it is. A cloaked skeletal, cosmic giant (presumably the Darkness) wields the severed head of the Anti-Monitor, the perpetrator of the original crisis and destroyer of countless universes. Parallel Earths on both sides burn and tint in destruction as they are seemingly pulled into a hole in reality leading to a plain white void. The cosmic horror truly shines here. Colon’s colors are so smooth that it feels like a realism piece which makes it all the more horrifying. The Darkness really is representative of the darkest crisis the DC Universe has ever seen.
The cosmic imagery continues with Mikel Janin’s variant of Pariah with his newly created Earths using the collective energy of the Justice League. It can be baffling how someone like Pariah with a backstory with such similarities to Superman’s can go so awry. The cyan coloring gives him and his Earths an otherworldly glow, especially put against the black background of space. Variants that show the main villain enacting their evil plan are a sure sign that we are getting close to the grand finale.
Black Adam is truly lucky to have friends like the Titans after they bail him out as Deathstroke’s Darkness-enhanced forces take over the Legion of Doom. However, he still refuses to see them as true hero material and just as kids. Jon’s adventure with Swamp Thing, Raven, and other magical heroes in Dark Crisis: The Deadly Green would prove otherwise.
As the darkness spread across the multiverse, they had infiltrated one of Pariah’s machines he had planted on Earth that had caused the original destruction. They would also find out Pariah is in fact not under the control of the darkness, but corrupting. How has yet to be revealed. Beast Boy makes a recovery but is physically scarred from what Deathstroke did to him. It warms your heart to know that he somehow knew that Nightwing was always there with him as he recovered.
Barry and Hal are on their Justice League rescue mission on the Earth where Batman was sent. Rather than beat him out of the illusion, Green Lantern reminds him of who he is missing on this Earth – not the Justice League, but the Batfamily. Around this time, Deathstroke and the hordes of rogues bare down on the Hall of Justice. Nightwing leads the Titans in a charge of blazing glory, embracing their identity as Titans and not a new Justice League. When the Justice League finally gets to Superman, he reveals he has a trick up his sleeve for confronting Pariah.
At this point, it’s very easy to grow tired of Pariah hiding in the dark and Deathstroke and his army being the only immediate threat. To counter this, Williamson includes moments that will warm any DC fan’s heart like Batman seeing the projected image of his family, Beast Boy’s return to action, Nightwing’s continued leadership, and a nice little interaction with Jon and Damian. It truly feels like the game changes by the last couple of pages of Dark Crisis On Infinite Earths #5. I really can’t tease Clark’s scene enough. It’s really one for the Superman history books.
What has been said about Sampere’s art that hasn’t already been said at this point? I don’t think he’s ever drawn this many energy-based attacks and blasts before. Whether it’s a bolt summoned by the power of SHAZAM, anti-matter waves, or darkness spreading throughout the cosmos – these pages literally glow with them thanks to him and Sanchez. It’s cool seeing all the alternate Justice League members being shown in his art style when they are introduced through another.
Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #5 feels a little slow at first like the last issue was, but the final couple of pages gives it more than a kick to go above and beyond, especially for Superman fans. However, the young heroes have been a lot busier than just with Deathstroke’s forces as shown in the tie-ins. And, with us being down to the last two issues, it’s safe to say that the time of recuperation is over.