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Darkest before Dawn: Dark Crisis and the Dawn of DC

Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths has concluded, opening up endless possibilities for the future of the DC Universe. Here’s how the crossover event sets the stage for the Dawn of DC.

Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #7
Image credit: DC
Spoilers ahead for December 20's Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #7.

The bombastic DC crossover event Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths by Joshua Williamson and Daniel Sampere has come to an epic end with its seventh issue. In the wake of the infinite multiverse being reborn, the reunited heroes faced the Great Darkness-corrupted Deathstroke and the evil Dark Army in front of the Hall of Justice. Led by Nightwing and Black Adam, the heroes were able to emerge triumphant, with the Great Darkness returning to normal, the villains defeated, and all of reality saved once again. However, though the day may have been saved from the literal forces of darkness, there is plenty of unrest, with the Dawn of DC era hinting at new developments and dangers to come in the near future.

Here are all the major consequences spinning out of Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths, setting the foundation for an uncertain new future for the DC Universe. From teases of brutal conflicts to come and those taking advantage of the chaos from the crossover’s immediate fallout, the DCU is far from safe even after the defeat of the Dark Army. And with the DCU at a major crossroads, here is how things are poised to unfold as 2023 kicks off with the Dawn of DC era.

Infinite Earths once again

heroes explain multiverse
Image credit: DC Comics

Using the raw energy drawn from pocket universes imprisoning each of the members of the Justice League, Pariah was able to make the DC Multiverse contain an infinite number of universes once again. It was Pariah’s experiments long ago that alerted the Anti-Monitor of the matter multiverse’s existence, leading the Anti-Monitor to consume all but one universe in the 1985 crossover Crisis on Infinite Earths. The 2005 crossover Infinite Crisis saw Alexander Luthor, Jr. from Earth-3 and Superboy-Prime create a new multiverse, limited to 52 universes, which was confirmed in the weekly maxi-series 52.

The return of an infinite multiverse was strongly alluded to at the end of the 2020 crossover event Dark Nights: Death Metal as the heroes restored reality from the corruption it endured at the hands of Perpetua and the Batman Who Laughs. Pariah’s actions across Dark Crisis, led the villain to definitively recreate the infinite multiverse, with the multiversal supervillain planning to subjugate all of reality to his will through his connection to the Great Darkness, the primordial forces of darkness before the creation of the multiverse. Though Pariah was defeated and killed, the infinite multiverse remains, no longer capped to 52 worlds as it had been for years while the Great Darkness returns to its normal, uncorrupted state.

Justice League no more

Batman announces Justice League's end
Image credit: DC Comics

Dark Crisis was immediately preceded by the death of the Justice League while they were battling Pariah and his Dark Army on the other side of the cosmos. After mourning their loss, Jon Kent attempted to form a new Justice League though this superhero ensemble never quite gelled together as effectively as he had hoped. With Dark Crisis’ final battle taking place outside of the Hall of Justice, the Justice League’s longtime headquarters was reduced to rubble by the fiery conflict and plans for the team to reassemble have been tabled for the foreseeable future.

In the aftermath of the battle, Nightwing meets with Batman privately in the ruins of the Hall of Justice. To Nightwing’s surprise, Batman insists to his original protege that the Justice League should remain disbanded until the superhero community can decide on an effective direction and role for the team to take given everything the world has recently endured. Black Adam, who had been the sole survivor of the team’s disastrous first fight against the Dark Army, decides to leave his old teammates behind entirely, opting to return his primary focus towards the defense of his homeland Kahndaq.

Though victorious, one major member of the Justice League remains missing in action – Green Arrow. While the Justice League weren’t quite killed off by Pariah but instead transported into their own pocket universe prisons, Oliver Queen was killed by the Dark Army’s corrupted Doomsday before this defeat occurred. This distinction led Ollie to be able to escape back to the real world while his teammates were freed from their pocket universes to rally the heroes back on Earth during the final battle. By the end of Dark Crisis, Green Arrow remains off the board, with his family and friends determined to get him back.

Glimpses of the future

glimpses of DCU's future
Image credit: DC Comics

In an epilogue, several quick teases to the immediate future of the DCU and its key players are revealed. Superman is seen battling Lex Luthor, with his old nemesis wearing a new armored battlesuit to take on the Man of Steel directly. Batman is shown at the mercy of Failsafe, a brutal robot programmed by Bruce Wayne’s alternate personality, the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh back in Gotham City. As for Damian Wayne, the current Robin finds himself under the magical thrall of Nezha, an ancient demon introduced during Mark Waid and Dan Mora’s Batman/Superman: World’s Finest.

Each of these moments reflect both the current DCU and will inform where the first wave of Dawn of DC stories will go. Batman’s battle against Failsafe is one that encompasses the entire DCU and has left the Caped Crusader on death’s door, as chronicled in Chip Zdarsky and Mike Hawthorne’s ongoing run on the main Batman comic book series.

Superman’s rematch with Luthor offers readers a glimpse at the Man of Steel’s comic future, with a new Superman series by Joshua Williamson, Phillip Kennedy Johnson continuing his acclaimed run on Action Comics, and Tom Taylor relaunching Adventures of Superman, starring Jon Kent. This future begins in Action Comics #1050, with all three writers contributing to a story poised to restore Clark and Jon Kent’s superhero secret identities to the world.

Robin’s story is currently unfolding in Mark Waid and Mahmud Asrar’s five-issue miniseries Batman vs. Robin, with Nezha and Mother Sin pitting Damian against his father while subjugating all magic in the DCU. This story sets up DC’s first major crossover event of 2023, Lazarus Planet, with Waid guiding the crossover as it changes up the status quo of the DCU.

Rise of the Wall

Amanda Waller stands with her new team
Image credit: DC Comics

The most shocking reveal in the Dark Crisis epilogue, however, does not involve any of DC’s current publishing slate. A shadowy council is concerned that the superhero community has seemingly conquered death and are in disarray but their decision not to reassemble under the leadership of a Justice League. Feeling the heroes and villains have grown too dangerous and unchecked in their destructive potential, the council tasks Amanda Waller to bring heroes and villains in line by any means necessary, with Waller backed by a sinister ensemble including two different versions of Peacemaker.

Waller has had a tumultuous history in the DCU as of late, going on the run for use of illegal cloning during writer Robbie Thompson’s run on Suicide Squad. Waller had already expanded her peacekeeping plans to address the wider multiverse, leading to a conflict against the Crime Syndicate of America on Earth-3, and this multiversal scope may lead her to acquire some deadly new recruits as she targets heroes and villains alike moving forward into the Dawn of DC as the fires of Dark Crisis point to a new era for the DCU.

Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths is written by Joshua Williamson, illustrated by Daniel Sampere, colored by Alejandro Sanchez, and lettered by Tom Napolitano, with an epilogue by a whole host of guest artists. The series is available in individual issues, with a hardcover collection slated to go on sale June 20 from DC Comics.

While you wait for what's next, make sure you've read all our recommended best DC Comics of all time.

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