Damian Wayne leads a fight against darkness in this one-shot tie-in to “Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths!”
Written by Mark Waid, Delilah S. Dawson, and Dennis Culver
Illustrated by Freddie E. Williams II and Jack Herbert
Colored by Andriano Lucas
Lettered by Troy Peteri
As Pariah’s Dark Army continues its march around the globe, Damian Wayne thinks he’s got an answer as to why Pariah is able to control the most dangerous cosmic villains of the Multiverse–and he’s taking Red Canary and Dr. Light on the road to see if he’s right!
Don’t miss this thrilling Dark Crisis tie-in with direct connections to the present and future of the DCU!
One-shot adventures within an event comic can be difficult in the best of times. Ones with multiple writers and illustrators, each with select pages they work on, can be even more overwhelming, especially if time shifts too drastically. With the multiverse on the line (not for the first time, as is referenced within the book itself), how does the creative team of “Dark Crisis: The Dark Army” #1 pull it off? The result is rather eclectic, and so is best described one creator at a time.
In a way, Mark Waid’s writing, which bookends the one-shot, is the calmest of the bunch, as well as the kindest toward Damian Wayne. Perhaps this is unsurprising, given Waid is also writing the “Batman vs. Robin” event miniseries, but it remains noticeable. That said, it is not too out of character, with Robin having genuine belief in trying to help others and faith in their abilities, especially those of his good friend Jonathan Kent, the Superman of Metropolis.
Under Delilah S. Dawson, the writing shifts away from Robin, making for a much more abrasive attitude from him as the protagonist role seems to be picked up by the various women of the impromptu team, mostly Power Girl. There. Dawson places a lot of focus on Robin being at odds with the group, with younger members trying to keep the peace or, in the case of the newly revealed Red Canary, just give her first showing and demonstrate usefulness.
With Dennis Culver in the third segment, the focus shifts to a classic location, with more anger from Power Girl. Unlike Dawson using Robin to have someone be hostile toward the new person and seemingly worried in his own way, or Waid giving him more kindness, Culver pushes toward the current Robin being more directly fallible. As a result, Culver truly has the team shine (no pun intended), and examines how, while not always the best at decision making, Damian has his own ways to help, albeit ones relatively inapplicable to the current conflict for a variety of reasons.
As he has shown through many other stories, Freddie E. Williams II excels in illustrating well-lit, traditional combat scenes. As such, he is a perfect choice for the vast majority of “Dark Crisis: The Dark Army” #1. From the initial battle through to a second one, he makes sure every strike looks filled with pain, each attack and action fast paced, befitting the heroes themselves.
Williams also shows he can do well with less action-focused scenes, be they a revelation in the light, a quiet moment in darkness, or a showcase of power that emphasizes a variety of different possible versions of several characters. As such, while his specialty seems to be combat, he does remarkably well with other forms of expository artwork.
The difference with certain characters under Jack Herbert’s pencil during the second arc of the one-shot is rather jarring, but nowhere is it as noticeable as with the apparent protagonist, Damian Wayne. The Boy Wonder is drawn as if he aged up ten years and grew several feet, to a distracting degree. Presumably, the point was to make him fit in better with the other heroes’ heights as well as keep him believable as a leader, but the effect leads to him looking like a completely different character altogether (possibly one of his predecessors, Tim Drake).
Despite that hiccup, Herbert is rather good with the majority of the cast. Characters such as Power Girl and the Kimiyo Hoshi version of Doctor Light show noticeable age compared to the newer group (barring the one person covered in a full-head mask, for obvious reasons), even if the aforementioned Robin may seem too old as well. Similarly, his use of shadow demons as borderline formless entities of pure darkness fits perfectly into the story itself, helping to illustrate why Doctor Light is perfect to deal with them.
Adriano Lucas ties together the different styles and characterizations very well with his colors, to the point that barring some outliers, readers may be hard pressed to tell there was a larger-than-usual creative team up front and center to begin with. From bright colors on a battlefield to darker shades around a quasi-crime scene, everything fits together very well, fitting both the tone and context of each individual scene exceptionally.
Final Verdict: 6.5– Uneven characterization, coupled with odd changes in art style, are somewhat decently held together by good coloring in this one-shot.