Dark Crisis: The Dark Army #1 Review: Charming Camaraderie at the Multiverse's End

Even in the most inconsequential of places, legacy finds a way to loom large over the DC universe. The publisher's superhero stories have built a foundation out of countless predecessors and successors, before testing the integrity of that foundation with a regular stream of world-ending events. That sense of legacy has even carried over to the world-ending events themselves, with the current Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths event drawing countless comparisons, whether positive or negative, to the original Crisis on Infinite Earths. In a way, those comparisons prove to help Dark Crisis: The Dark Army #1 – an offshoot of the event that becomes something remarkable thanks to its entertaining smattering of sidekicks and legacy characters.

In Dark Crisis: The Dark Army #1, during an interlude for the cataclysmic battle against Pariah and the Dark Army, Damian Wayne is tasked with putting together a skeleton crew that can potentially give the group of heroes an advantage. That team, which grows to consist of Power Girl, Doctor Light, Red Canary, and Sideways, goes on an unexpected journey throughout the remnants of the multiverse and discovers key pieces of information in the process.

The interplay between this roster really proves to be the biggest strength of Dark Army, to the point where the team's larger objective becomes less important. That isn't a bad thing as there's a clever novelty to watching this crop of characters—most of whom are torch-carrying sidekicks or offshoots of other characters—reluctantly joining forces. That novelty makes way for some compelling character beats, including nuggets of details about Red Canary's backstory, some long-overdue moments of agency for Power Girl, and a near-seamless re-contextualization of Doctor Light's earliest appearances. The fact that the issue is written in segments by three authors—Mark Waid, Delilah S. Dawson, and Dennis Culver—and still near-effortlessly delivers these tidbits makes it all the more impressive.

In a way, that very approach makes an issue like Dark Army the best kind of tie-in to a massive event – the kind that does not require reading the main series, but still enhances the charm and potential of its concept. Readers who have dipped in and out of Dark Crisis, or who haven't even paid attention since the Justice League died in Justice League #75, will still be able to keep up with what's thrown at them, as well as nods to other corners of DC lore. But at the same time, Dark Army provides the overall Dark Crisis with a sense of whimsy similar to the original Crisis On Infinite Earths (and to countless DC team-ups since then) – the kind that sends a mixed bag of characters on a ragtag, but important adventure.

The seamless feeling of Dark Army is less apparent with parts of the issue's aesthetics, as art from Jack Herbert is sandwiched between stretches of pages from Freddie E. Williams II. While both art styles have their own shades of scrappiness (and the issue cleverly finds a narrative way to explain the switch back and forth), the approach to construction and character varies wildly – Damian and Red Canary, in particular, are portrayed as adolescent in one style and full-fledged adults in the other. Adriano Lucas' color work helps bridge the gap between the two, with some distinct uses of golds and reds throughout. Troy Peteri's lettering also carries the timeless snappiness that the story really needs.

Dark Crisis: The Dark Army #1 not only proves to be a fun romp advancing its ensemble of characters, but it proves just how much fun the larger Dark Crisis can still have before it comes to a close. This one-shot's all-star team of writers and artists craft a clever, small-scale story with cool elements – one that is just as plucky as the characters gracing its pages. While its significance in the narrative tapestry of Dark Crisis remains to be seen, Dark Army is a consistently entertaining scrap of that tapestry.

Published by DC Comics

On November 22, 2022

Written by Mark Waid, Delilah S. Dawson, and Dennis Culver

Art by Freddie E. Williams II and Jack Herbert

Colors by Adriano Lucas

Letters by Troy Peteri

Cover by Gleb Melnikov