There comes a superhero comic book every so often with panels and fights that rattle your bones just by reading them – Dark Crisis: Big Bang #1 lives up to that name and so much more with the grudge match of the century that spans across universes.
Dark Crisis: Big Bang #1 also functions as the ultimate tie-in to some of DC’s most prominent and overlooked continuities from years past and even present. Mikel Janín features the Superman (or at least a portion of him) of Earth 118, better known as The Dark Knights of Steel. This fan-favourite fantasy take on the Justice League finally has its place in the main DC multiverse confirmed. Whether it’s on a Batman or Justice League cover, Janín’s art is always a smooth experience for the eyes. The line work and textures all seamlessly blend together with how he draws.
Ariel Colon’s variant also features a cast of multiversal characters, with brand new characters like Jurassic League Batman and Justice League Mech Superman are there along with Black Label characters like The Human Target and a Joker variant. The overall dark texture suits most of these characters extremely well. We have another smooth piece by Colon here, the detail is fine yet the images are simple enough that the whole cover can work as a mural. The human faces are near photo realistic and Jurassic League Batman is done like a Charles R Knight painting.
DC Mech is again referenced in Crystal Kung’s charming and simplistic stylised variant featuring that Earth’s Superman and Wonder Woman. Superman is enlarged in the background while Wonder Woman stands defiantly in the foreground in a very main-character sort of way. Kung’s visual style sets her cover apart from the rest and it goes to show that nothing needs to be overly complex to be appealing. This cover also serves as a nice break from all the cosmic intensity in comparison to the others.
Freddie E Williams II’s variant showcases Red Son Superman punching out Steppenwolf and I have to say it’s a welcome visual. Williams II uses his trademark digital and traditional illustrations to create so quality contemporary Superman art. And what better way to do so with one of the most well-known Superman takes of the 21st Century and a villain still fresh in everyone’s mind? His art style was designed to tackle scenes like this. There’s everything an action buff can want here – a hard hit by the Man of Steel and crumbling battle damage. For Superman buffs meanwhile, this cover is an absolute keeper.
Nathan Szerdy gives us a crossover for the ages with his cover. An average everyday bouncer-type fellow with a Joker jacket posing with Wonder Woman from DC Super Hero Girls. The juxtaposition between the realistically styled man and the animated character like Who Framed Roger Rabbit is all you need to get on board with this variant. Wonder Woman is pretty true to the show with some facial highlights touched up. Szerdy really captured the “when worlds collide” aspect of a Crisis event in the most unexpected way.
Barry Allen and Wally West are mapping out the new multiverse that has stabilised in the wake of Pariah’s actions. But Barry has his sights set on an old enemy that has been restored along with the new multiverse. It’s the perpetrator of the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Anti-Monitor. It’s as personal as Superman against Doomsday, this is the villain that killed The Flash. What ensues is one of the hardest 1v1’s in modern comics – a fist fight that literally spans universes.
The real treat in addition to the enormous amounts of catharsis as Barry fights the Anti-Monitor is seeing all the denizens of the DC multiverse. You can spend several minutes on a single page capturing all the references and remembering the first time you’ve seen or read them or go back and reread the whole book to pace the action. Make no mistake that this is a Flash book, but there are plenty of Supermen of all shapes and sizes. From Superboy to Superman Beyond – everyone is here.
Mark Waid is no stranger to The Flash with his unforgettable Wally West stories in the 90’s. Now penning Barry Allen, he epitomises “Run Barry Run” in every sense of the word. Waid, lettered by Troy Peteri has been on a roll with DC this year by prioritizing fun and excitement – now here he is laying the groundwork for the new DC multiverse. That’s writing versatility. But after years in the business, we all know that about this comic treasure.
The Superman vs. Doomsday parallel comes full circle with Dan Jurgens drawing the issue, with Norm Rapmund assisting with the inking. Jurgens really embodies George Perez here and the final product is a blend of modern comic art and that from the late 80s to mid-90s. It’s especially cool to see newer characters introduced much after being given this visual treatment. All this works in favour of the story since it’s so closely connected with the original Crisis event.
Some of these Flash panels are the absolute best to grace the pages. They were also given the task of capturing all the character cameos from the likenesses to the costumes. Jurgens and Rapmund hit it out of the park here as well. It’s really impressive to be able to give that many characters panel time. Federico Blee colors this issue with some pretty diverse textures. The first half of the comic seems more contemporary in its shading and handling while the other half becomes more grainy like an older comic –which fits Jurgen’s art for reasons just mentioned.
Dark Crisis: Big Bang #1 is a powerful issue and though this issue focuses on The Flash, the real star is the DC multiverse. It’s a celebration of stories, characters, and their creators as readers recall them. The wildest part about it is that the Dark Crisis itself isn’t over.