This article contains spoilers for DC’s Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #3.
The secret is finally out. Well, one of them, at least. DC’s Dark Crisis event is more than just the latest story to tackle the implications of the scope of DC Universe history, it’s also a direct sequel to the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, arguably the greatest event comic of all time. And with that revelation comes a change in title, as Dark Crisis is now officially known as Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths. Buckle up.
We sat down with Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths writer Joshua Williamson and artist Daniel Sampere mere minutes after the big revelation about the book’s true title, and with an advance copy of Dark Crisis #3 in hand. And between them, they gave us more hints about Pariah’s plans, crafting the return of the Justice Society of America, and what’s really going on with Deathstroke.
Listen to the full episode here, or read highlights from our chat below!
So it turns out that there’s more to Dark Crisis than we originally thought, and the full title is Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Joshua Williamson: We just kept the secret because we knew that once we started bringing in the idea of Infinite Earths, then everyone would kind of know what’s gonna happen, so we just wanted to keep it secret until it was time. And now that we’re getting so close, it was like, “alright, now it’s time.”
You’ve described this as a direct sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths. There have been other stories that have touched on the themes of the original Crisis, but they weren’t quite a sequel to it. What makes this that spiritual sequel?
JW: Well, I think having Pariah involved specifically, [since he] wasn’t involved in those other events. But when you when you go back and look at and I should say this, I love Infinite Crisis, I love Final Crisis. But Pariah in a lot of ways, is the star of Crisis on Infinite Earths. He’s there at the beginning, he plays a major part of that story. He’s the cause of the destruction of the Earths, it’s all set off because of him. But he hasn’t really played a major part in the DCU ever since.
I wanted to get back to him [because] I thought there was really more story with him to be told. I think his connection is a big piece of that. I mean, there’s all kinds of things that go into making a Crisis. But I think [now] we’re able to connect directly back to some of the pieces from the original.
One of the things I’ve noticed about Dark Crisis so far is that it definitely seems to have started with a real character focus, and it’s expanding and expanding and expanding, just like your title is expanding. But Dark Crisis #3, you start with a nine panel grid, Daniel, which calls to mind a very specific mood. Can you talk about what that symbolizes to you?
Daniel Sampere: That page tries to focus on the grief of the characters. They just lost, you know, so it’s to show the reactions of what happened to them, how they handle everything. I thought the best way to represent that was same sized panels, because all the moments are equally important. You need to know exactly what’s happening here, but with the same importance on every image, so we thought it was the best way to start the issue. And it’s also the calm also before the storm.
JW: We were really trying to start with a bit of a slow burn and be a little bit more character based. But we knew that that was really all about getting all of these characters into position so that we could do the explosions, we could do all these really big moments that are coming.
JW: Well, I’m just glad they’re back and I’m glad we get to have them in this story. I think you can’t do a story like this without them. I think the idea of so much of what Dark Crisis is about is legacy, and you can’t really do a story in the DC Universe about legacy without involving them, and they have to play an important role. Especially Alan Scott. There’s a scene coming in the fourth issue where Alan Scott and Nightwing have a heart to heart about some of the things that are going on. But yeah, the JSA are important to the story and they play a big role.
That JSA reveal is stunning. How did you approach that moment?
DS: Well, the script for that was pretty easy.
JW: That was my only request was having them all coming down. I didn’t want it to be a moment with them just standing there.
DS: When I get the chance to draw something like this, it’s when I have the most fun. I just wanted to try to do my best and I wanted to give them some Alex Ross vibes. Kind of like gods from the sky.
JW: I wanted give it a very majestic kind of importance, you know, and you can feel that in there with Daniel’s art and the coloring that Alejandro Sanchez did on that page. It shines. It really comes through.
DS: I just put everything together. It’s majestic, but also with that colors that Alejandro put there, it’s warm at the same time. You know, like, okay, they are here to help. I tried to at least make readers feel this way.
Can you explain what the hell is happening with Deathstroke?
JW: I mean, if you’re gonna do a story about legacy, to me, Deathstroke is the Titans‘ archenemy, right? So if you’re gonna have a story about legacy, and the Titans also represent legacy, he’s the enemy of legacy to me.
We made a book last year called Deathstroke Inc. which was about showing kind of what he was going through. We have this person that’s been walking the line for a long time [as an] antihero and I wanted to to really push him back into the villain role, so we spent some time putting him there. But even early on in that book, he was already really conflicted. There’s a moment where he came into contact with the Great Darkness. It was kind of an Easter egg that we put in there that he came into direct contact with it. And from that moment, you could tell he was slowly becoming more and more unhinged.
Leading into Dark Crisis we did an event called Shadow War. We had already set him up where Deathstroke was building this army. He was going out he was going after Ra’s al Ghul and Talia and in that story he had learned he had another kid out in the world, named Respawn, who died during that story. At the end of day, he’s an awful father who will never accept that, you know, and when his son Grant died, he blamed the Titans even though that was very clearly his fault. So when Respawn died, it sort of snapped him back into that zone of like, the Titans are the enemy, the kids are the enemy, the legacy of the enemy, it all kind of unwrapped in his head.
But you’re also dealing with the idea that he’s being manipulated by Pariah. And so by Pariah manipulating him, it’s all pushing him into doing things that might be out of character, but it’s still I think, who he is, which is he will never take responsibility for anything he’s ever done, he will always find a way to point a finger at somebody else, specifically the Titans. And this moment when the Justice League are gone, he’s like, “this is my shot. I’m gonna go after the Titans.” So you take all that, and then you throw on the Great Darkness and Pariah and you can see he just becoming more and more unhinged. He’s literally possessed now but that possession is really what’s pushing him to be even more and more nuts. And there’s some really big moments with him that are coming in the book.
This is a super villain heavy book, which is what happens when you take the Justice League off the table before the first issue even hits. But now the Legion of Doom have shown up, and everyone associates them with the old Challenge of the Superfriends cartoon.
JW: There’s a little tiny joke I did where when we cut to the Legion of Doom it says “meanwhile…” because in the cartoon it always said “Meanwhile, at the Legion of Doom…”
There’s one super team that hasn’t shown up yet. And that’s the Legion of Super-Heroes…
JW: I love the Legion of Super-Heroes. We don’t have a plan for them in this book yet, partly because right now, Brian Michael Bendis is doing Justice League vs. The Legion of Super-Heroes, and that takes place before Dark Crisis. So they’re not going to be involved.
I’ve thought about it a few times. But then it’s like, “if I add the Legion of Super-Heroes, then Daniel will 100% kill me because we already have so many characters in the book.” Could you imagine if I’m like, “and by the way, you’re gonna draw like 30 kids teenage superheroes.” Every time I add more and more characters to the book I have to take a step back. But as a fan of DC, I want to put them all in there. But I have to be careful with it, because if I’m gonna put them in there, I want to make sure they all serve a purpose and aren’t just set dressing. And also I don’t want to break Daniel.
Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #3 is out now. The story continues through December.