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“Dark Crisis: Worlds Without A Justice League – Superman” #1

By | July 14th, 2022
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Superman’s son Jon Kent’s early and late childhood were rushed over at DC Comics. DC quickly aged Jon to a young adult in order to tell stories pairing Jon Kent and relatively new Robin Damian Wayne for books like “Super Sons.” However, with DC’s newest event “Dark Crisis” in full swing, the chance to explore Jon Kent’s childhood has just come up again for a brand-new tie-in. Writer Tom King is taking the chance to flesh out Jon’s childhood again. In this new reality does Jon still end up embodying the ideals for Superman? Artist Chris Burnham has a seminal place in DC Comics contributing beautiful pencils to “Batman and Robin” with Damian Wayne co-creator Grant Morrison. Will King be able to shed the violent themes in his stories to characterize Jon Kent and Superman correctly? How do Chris Burnham’s pencils compare to his previous work over at DC Comics? Find out in our in-depth review for “Dark Crisis: Worlds Without A Justice League – Superman” #1!

Cover by Chris Burnham and Adriano Lucas
Written by Tom King
Illustrated by Chris Burnham
Colored by Adriano Lucas
Lettered by Troy Peteri

When Pariah and his forces of the Great Darkness laid waste to the most powerful superheroes of all time, all hope was lost…with the Man of Steel suffering the same fate as that of his comrades, join us for a look at a world of dreams he would never have thought possible while alive. Where there’s life there’s hope, and with that hope comes a deeper unraveling of the tapestry of DCU’s biggest event of 2022!

In the past author Tom King has had a difficult time balancing out the light themes of Superman with his violent tendencies in the writing. While I was hoping to see a shift in these themes for “Dark Crisis: Worlds Without A Justice League – Superman” #1, the series kicks the story off on the wrong note. Lois Lane’s crass rhetoric towards Jon early in the issue shows a lack of understanding in the characterization of Lane on King’s part. Lois scolds Damian in a cold manner that highlights the flaws in her character. DC has relentlessly established a kind personality for these parental figures that this script quickly loses sight of. Later on in the script, King starts to shift gears and characterize Lois to be more supportive. “Dark Crisis: Worlds Without A Justice League – Superman” #1 is stronger when the focus shifts back to Jon’s father. Clark is not perfect in this story but more understanding than Lois is. The way that that Clark has tension in his parenting from trying to uphold his promise to Jon lends some organic tension to the story. Clark ultimately looks like a kind and understanding father figure while Lois appears to lack compassion. The conclusion that King draws about Lois and Jon towards the end of the chapter is supposed to be sweet. However, this dark scene is violent and undermines previous characterization that King has established. In other words, King falls into similar traps he has taken before in the approach to Superman.

If DC was looking to publish a darker Superman story Chris Burnham is a solid artistic choice. Burnham’s animated design is a great fit for a younger Superman character. Burnham also has the opportunity to draw a couple of incredibly violent panels throughout the issue as well. The colors from Adriano Lucas are incredibly precise here, matching the unique set of pencils coming from Burnham as well. If I had to critique one aspect of the pencils, it is that the expressions on Jon’s face can seem more negative than they seemingly be intended to be. There’s a specific panel where Jon is making a sinister expression that is really well realized here but seemingly not the note the script was looking to evoke. Burnham’s pencils for the issue are almost playing on the violent tendencies threatening to derail the muddled tone of the Superman comic. However, this issue still looks proficient and is able to evoke lots of acting in the individual scenes. There’s a scene where Lois is typing on the computer and looks immersed in the secondary activity during one of the initial scenes in the issue.

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The second half of the issue actually makes up some ground lost from the main feature. Writer Brandon Thomas tells a story about Aquaman and his relationship Andy, recently introduced in the main “Aquaman” series. This second half of the issue introduces so much recent Aquaman lore in such an efficient manner while keeping such a pleasant tone throughout this story. The endearing way that Aquaman is still tied to the story expands the scope of the book. The artwork from Ficco Ossio here is stellar as well. Ossio draws so many characters on the page and still manages to find so many details about the character with items like expressions setting this story apart from the others. Ossio has nearly every character from every page reacting. While Ossio’s facial expressions can be similar, the scope and scale of the artwork is commendable here. Ossio and Thomas are able to characterize Aquaman stronger than what King and Burnham captured in their Superman story.

“Dark Crisis: Worlds Without A Justice League – Superman” #1 is an incredibly mixed bag that huge DC fans might be interested in despite the strange quality from the main feature. Ossio and Burnham are fantastic artists that both deliver strong work in the issue. While the violent approach to Superman does not fit the character, the second story for Aquaman is a strong moment for “Dark Crisis: Worlds Without A Justice League – Superman” #1

Final Verdict: 6.5 – “Dark Crisis: Worlds Without A Justice League – Superman” #1 pushes the Aquaman franchise forward but stumbles to characterize Superman properly.

Alexander Jones