DARK CRISIS #1 delivers a different kind of event comic

Dark Crisis #1

Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Daniel Sampere
Colorist: Alejandro Sanchez
Letter: Tom Napolitano
Cover Artists: Daniel Sampere & Alejandro Sánchez
Publisher: DC Comics

Dark Crisis is upon us. The storyline that DC Comics has been building to for the past eighteen months is finally here. Writer Joshua Williamsonthe architect of the Infinite Frontier storyline that has led to the current event, is joined by artist Daniel Samperecolorist Alejandro Sanchezand letter Tom Napolitano for the series, which finds the DC Universe forced to figure out what comes next in a world where the heroes of the Justice League have died in battle while facing a multiversal threat.

It’s a big story with huge stakes, but Dark Crisis #1 takes an interesting approach to it, telling what feels like a smaller story to start. Superman Jon Kent is at the center of things for most of the issue, and Williamson does a nice job picking up Jon’s characterization from Superman: Son of Kal-El and applying it to the current goings-on. Jon was already stepping up to fill his father’s shoes while Papa Superman was off attempting to liberate Warworld, but with Clark Kent now believed to be dead there’s a noticeable shift in Jon’s behavior, which is on display nicely through his interactions with other young DC heroes like Yara Flor’s Wonder Girl and Jace Fox’s Batman. You can feel Jon sorting through – or, perhaps, trying to push aside – his emotions over what’s happened in the name of Being Superman. It firmly grounds the story in the character, and it makes for a fascinating kick off to a huge event series.

Beyond Jon, Dark Crisis #1 does a solid job of bringing in threads from previous stories and other ongoing titles without getting too heavily bogged down in them. There’s some exposition early on from Black Adam about what happened in “The Death of the Justice League” in Justice League #75, but it lasts just a page and doesn’t take away from the forward movement of the issue. Williamson deftly pulls in elements from the recently-completed Shadow War (which he also wrote, so that helps) storyline, as well as from books like Teen Titans Academy, I Am Batmanand another just-wrapped event, Trial of the Amazons, bringing new readers up to speed on who characters are and what they’re about without it feeling clunky or repetitive for existing readers. New readers enticed by the Free Comic Book Day one-shot should have no trouble following along with what’s happening, while readers who’ve been following the DC for the past year and a half will definitely start to see some things pay off already. It’s a tough needle for a massive event comic to thread, but Dark Crisis #1 does it quite well.

The star of the show in this book is definitely the artwork. Sampere is finally getting the spotlight he deserves, and the artist comes right out of the gate swinging for the fences. Paired with Sánchez, the two deliver incredible work here, capturing the intensity of the action and the depth of the emotion on display throughout the issue. Sampere’s linework is clean, his characters are expressive and physical, and his page layouts are dynamic and easy to follow. Sánchez’s color work really makes the art sing, with action sequences that pop off of the page, and more dialogue-heavy scenes kept visually interesting. It’s not flashy work, but it’s beautiful and perfectly fits the tone of the story being told. Napolitano’s lettering serves the story equally well, with flourishes where appropriate for big moments, and visually-interesting sound effects and establishing captions that integrate beautifully with the issue’s other visuals.

Dark Crisis #1 is a fantastic start to DC’s latest event series. Williamson, Sampere, and co. deliver a debut that’s brimming with strong characterization and some classic, high-stakes superheroics. If the energy and excitement of this issue is any indication of how the rest of the series is going to be, readers are in for the next great summer blockbuster.

Final Verdict: BUY.

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