Review: Dark Crisis: War Zone #1

“On Time”, “Just When I Thought I Was Out…”, “Amazon Helping Hand”, “Make Our Confessions Long ‘Cuz When We Pray We Keep It Short”, “Birds of a Feather”, 
Writers: Delilah S. Dawson, Matthew Rosenberg, Stephanie Williams, Frank Tieri, Jeremy Adams
Artists: Tom Derenick, George Kamabdais, Caitlin Yarsky, Serg Acuna, Fernando Pasarin, Matt Ryan
Color Artists: Matt Herms, Peter Pantazis
Letterer: Troy Peteri
Review by Bryant Lucas

The DCU learns that war is hell, as Deathstroke’s army continues its attack on the Hall of Justice in Dark Crisis: War Zone #1.

In case you missed the memo, the DCU’s experiencing a Crisis, and it’s pretty dark. Literally. An entity known as The Great Darkness has possessed the scientist-turned-villain Pariah (see the OG Crisis on Infinite Earths) and is hellbent on destroying the Multiverse. However, the plot thickens in Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #6 when our heroes manage to defeat Pariah, which then forces The Great Darkness to find a new vessel: Deathstroke. Accordingly, this issue occurs during the battle with Deathstroke’s army, all under The Great Darkness’ influence.

Messes of Men

This comic is an anthology, as multiple creative teams tell short vignettes highlighting characters that otherwise wouldn’t appear in the main series. Respectively, this issue features stories about The Flash Family, The Spectre, The Amazons, The Green Lantern Corps, and Black Canary/Red Canary. Each chapter has a different creative flare as storytelling methods and aesthetics shift from tale to tale. Accordingly, the quality of each story varies too. Some I found very engaging, such as “Just When I Thought I Was Out…”, which features Jim Corrigan attempting to rescue The Spectre from the influence of The Great Darkness. He teams up with Raven to take down The Wrath of God. It’s pretty cool. Some, on the other hand, felt dull and irrelevant, such as “Amazon Helping Hand”, which is literally a montage of the Amazons prepping for war and helping during the fight, and not actually a story at all.

However, the best part of this issue in my humble opinion has nothing to do with the writing or art. Rather, I’m utterly impressed by the title of Matthew Rosenberg’s Green Lantern Corps story: “Make Our Confessions Long ‘Cuz When We Pray We Keep It Short”. This title is a DEEP cut, as it’s actually lyrics from a band called mewithoutYou. They come from the album Brother, Sister and a song called “Messes of Men”.

“Bryant, what does this have to do with the quality of this comic?” Thanks! I’m glad you asked. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Honestly, I can’t find a single thematic connection between “Messes of Men” and Rosenberg’s story. However, mewithoutYou was my jam in high school. They’re an obscure post-hardcore/indie rock/psychedelic band that gained popularity in the early to mid-2000s in Christian circles. While I’m not sure it adds much in terms of quality to this issue, I will NEVER fault a person for quoting mewithoutYou. EVER.

A Showcase of Talent

One of the cool things about this issue is that DC gets to visually showcase its artistic talent. Some of these artists feel very mainstream, others, however, definitely have their own flare. For example, Fernando Pasarin’s Flash Family story has the traditional DC aesthetic: clean and realistic. In contrast, George Kambadais’s Green Lantern Corps chapter is uniquely stylized. His work is more cartoony and angular, body proportions are sometimes exaggerated, and everything feels more aggressive due to Kambadais’s sharp edges.

Then there’s Tom Derenick’s “Black Canary meets Red Canary” vignette. This charming tale feels more muted and grungy, as these two heroes are forced to fight Deathstroke’s army on the ground. There’s dust and debris everywhere, and Derenick’s generous use of crosshatching adds to the bleak atmosphere. All of these styles coexist side-by-side, and all of them are great, as this comic serves as a collage of DCU’s multifaceted aesthetic.

Conclusion

Reading Dark Crisis: War Zone #1 is like eating a Russel Stower’s box of chocolates. Each piece is uniquely flavored and therefore will appeal to different individuals. Some are chocolate junkies who will appreciate each piece, others may have more distinct pallets that don’t like coconut, and you know what? That’s okay. There’s enough in this issue that will appeal to someone, even if it’s only one or two stories.

Final Verdict: I like chocolate, and I like Dark Crisis: War Zone #1. 

Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment


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