Dark Crisis: The Dark Army #1 review: Charming camaraderie at the end of the multiverse

In even the most inconsequential of places, legacy finds a way to dominate the DC Universe in a big way. The publisher’s superhero stories built a foundation out of countless predecessors and successors before testing the integrity of that foundation with a regular stream of world-ending events. That sense of legacy has even carried over to the world-ending events themselves, going with the flow Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths event that draws numerous comparisons, both positive and negative, with the original Crisis on Infinite Earths. In a sense, those comparisons seem to help Dark Crisis: The Dark Army #1 – an offshoot of the event that turns into something remarkable thanks to its entertaining amount of sidekicks and legacy characters.

In Dark Crisis: The Dark Army #1, during an interlude before the disastrous battle against Pariah and the Dark Army, Damian Wayne is tasked with assembling a skeleton crew that might give the group of heroes an advantage. That team, which evolves into Power Girl, Doctor Light, Red Canary and Sideways, embark on an unexpected journey through the remnants of the multiverse, uncovering vital pieces of information in the process.

The interplay between this selection really turns out to be its greatest strength dark army, to the point where the team’s greater purpose becomes less important. That’s no bad thing, as there’s a clever novelty about watching this crop of characters – most of whom are torch-carrying sidekicks or offshoots of other characters – begrudgingly joining forces. That novelty gives way to some riveting character beats, including nuggets of detail about Red Canary’s backstory, some long-awaited moments of agency for Power Girl, and an almost seamless recontextualization of Doctor Light’s first appearances. The fact that the song was written in segments by three authors – Mark Waid, Delilah S. Dawson and Dennis Culver – and still delivers these tidbits almost effortlessly makes it all the more impressive.

In a sense, that very approach creates a problem like Dark army the best kind of tie-in to a huge event – the kind that doesn’t require you to read the main series, but still enhances the concept’s charm and potential. Readers who have popped in and out Dark Crisisor who haven’t even been paying attention since the Justice League died in Justice League #75, will still be able to keep up with what’s thrown at them, and nods to other corners of DC lore as well. But at the same time, Dark army takes care of the whole Dark Crisis with a sense of whimsy similar to the original Crisis on Infinite Earths (and countless DC team-ups since) – the kind that sends a mixed bag of characters on a ragtag, but important, adventure.

The seamless feeling of Dark army is less clear with parts of the song’s aesthetic, as art by Jack Herbert is sandwiched between chunks of pages from Freddie E. Williams II. While both art styles have their own shades (and the release cleverly finds a narrative way to explain the switch back and forth), the approach to construction and character varies greatly – Damian and Red Canary in particular are portrayed as adolescent in one style and mature adults in the other. Adriano Lucas’ color work helps bridge the gap between the two, with some clear applications of gold and red. Troy Peteri’s letters also carry the timeless vibrancy that the story really needs.

Dark Crisis: The Dark Army #1 not only proves to be a fun romp furthering its ensemble of characters, but it also proves how much fun the bigger Dark Crisis can still have before it comes to an end. This one-shot’s all-star team of writers and artists come up with a clever, small-scale story with cool elements – one that’s as brave as the characters on its pages. While its significance in the Dark Crisis narrative tapestry remains to be seen, Dark army is a consistently entertaining fragment of that tapestry.

Published by DC comics

on November 22, 2022

Written by Mark Waid, Delilah S. Dawson, and Dennis Culver

Art by Freddie E. Williams II and Jack Herbert

Color through Adrian Lucas

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Letters through Troy Peteri

Cover Gleb Melnikov

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