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Posted in Correspondence

Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths, huh? My DC reading really lapsed when Marvel launched Unlimited, and only started to pick up a bit recently. I’d heard just enough about Dark Crisis to be interested, I somewhat fondly remember the parts of Williamson’s Fables that I recall, and I had some free time on a work trip. Seemed like it was time to give it a try.

It wasn’t. I’m not quite sure what Dark Crisis is supposed to be. In fact I think it kind of made me realize what I like in crossover comics:

  1. Big concepts and threats that easily trickle out into other titles to tie them in.
  2. Dramatic moments that feel like major changes (even if we know they probably won’t last all that long)
  3. Enough going on that everyone can find something to do
  4. An organic relationship to ongoing continuity

Dark Crisis has approximately none of these.

  1. The main threat that could show up in other series is villains with two lengths of black chain crossing their chest who are somewhat powered up, somewhat more evil, and somewhat not themselves. “A villain that shows up in this comic anyway, but slightly different” isn’t much to build with.
  2. There are some dramatic moments and decent one-liners, but overall all that really changed was that there’s a world without a Justice League, which is exactly where the crossover started. Oh, and the real candle of hope was inside Nightwing all along.
  3. There were some spin-off stories, but none of them seemed all that important to the characters in them, and none of them really changed the overall plot.
  4. Maybe? I haven’t been following enough DC continuity to be sure, but it didn’t feel all that tied to anything. It took the current state of the world, sure, but it didn’t feel like any of the events had any evidence of having built up. Everything just happened.

And this may be a case where reading order impacts perceived quality. The last crossover I read was AXE which was fantastic and ticked all the boxes.

  1. A celestial judging literally every person on Earth is a nice small hook for any story, plus the larger swings of the plot like events on Krakoa and Mars give plenty of backdrop for stories beyond “thumbs up or thumbs down?”
  2. The nature of eternals, the Krakoan Resurrection protocols, and the Krakoan political/diplomatic situation all got shifts that, sure, may be undone over time but for the moment establish a meaningfully different status quo.
  3. There’s a war on at least two fronts, a celestial to invade, and everyone being judged. Plenty going on, plenty of threads to follow, and they all weave together to influence each other.
  4. The culmination of several ongoing plots in Eternals and X-Men. A little less tied to the Avengers, but whatever. Years of build-up.

So, in conclusion, if you read one crossover event that came out recently, read AXE.

  • As a palate-cleanser I re-read Final Crisis and yes, it’s still just as over-the-top and weird and confounding as I recall. I’ll take this kind of ambitious big idea over a mishmash of blandness any day. The failures are bigger, sure, but so are the successes.
  • Maybe it’s just having read two multiversal red-sky DC Crises in a week, but Magic’s next set March of the Marchine is basically a DC crisis, right? Red sky portal things, multiversal crossovers, team-ups, a big bad with plenty of facets for every hero to interact with, battles on multiple fronts across the multiverse. It’s not surprising that they’ve leaned into the Infinity War comparisons, because of course more people know that, but March of the Machine is totally a classic DC sky-turns-red crisis. They’ve got (the) Flash.
  • With gaming hopefully finally happening again this weekend I got around to writing up our last two sessions of The One Ring 2E: Hob’s Your Uncle and The False Battle of Weathertop. Naming our sessions continues to be one of the best parts of gaming.

Sage LaTorra is a game designer and engineering manager at Google. You may know him from Dungeon World.

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