Three issues in and Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths – with the DC Comics crossover Sevent having unveiled its full title at Comic-Con International: San Diego 2022 – is only just getting started in delivering its bombastic, reality-shaking action.
The Titans narrowly survived a brutal attack by Deathstroke and the Secret Society of Super-Villains in the wake of the Justice League apparently being killed by the multiversal enemy Pariah. And as the heroes lick their wounds in issue #3, Black Adam takes matters into his own hands by reassembling the Legion of Doom while Hal Jordan leads the Green Lantern Corps directly to confront Pariah on the far side of the cosmos.
Spoilers ahead for August 2's Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #3.
For the creative team of Joshua William and Daniel Sampere, the series’ third issue continues the build-up as the DC Multiverse braces itself for an epic war against Pariah and his twisted Dark Army. From Deathstroke asserting his insidious control over the Secret Society to Hal diving headfirst into the twisted pocket universes where Pariah has imprisoned each member of the Justice League, the battle lines between are being drawn and reinforcements rallying to each side. And by the time the dust settles, the DC Multiverse will never be the same again.
In an interview covering all the twists and turns to Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #3, Williamson and Sampere unpack the big reveals from the issue, share their personal favorite moments in the story so far, and tease what readers can expect next as Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths nears its halfway mark.
Popverse: Black Adam tries to work with the heroes after the battle at Titans Tower before linking up with the Legion of Doom. Both him and Deathstroke have flirted with the line between hero and villain but how do you see Black Adam in that context?
Joshua Williamson: It’s interesting, I guess I see him as a hero, it’s just that his methods aren’t the same as everybody else’s. [laughs] That’s what you see in this issue and, for him to go to the Legion of Doom, he had worked with them before during Forever Evil and they saved the day during Forever Evil. This is what he’s thinking, “We did it before, we’ll do it again.”
In his mind, he’s still acting like a hero. When he’s going to get the Legion of Doom, he isn’t thinking he’s going to get a bunch of villains and criminals but that he’s going to get a bunch of heroes in his mind because they’ve been heroes before.
It is interesting how Deathstroke and Black Adam are two characters who walk these lines and I’m splitting them. Black Adam is acting way more like a hero in this situation and Deathstroke is acting way more like a villain in this whole thing and Deathstroke just gets worse and worse as we go.
Speaking of Deathstroke, Ravager calls him out directly on why he could go through such extreme lengths after losing the son he never knew, Respawn.
Williamson: That came out of a meeting, actually. We had a meeting a year ago when I was pitching and we were talking about it. Somebody in the asked why Deathstroke was doing some of this stuff because they hadn’t read Shadow War, we hadn’t gotten to that stuff yet. I wrote Shadow War and planned it for so long, before even [Dark Crisis]. I remember the quote being “Deathstroke isn’t being rational” and I was like “When is Deathstroke ever rational?! When has he ever been the person to do the reasonable thing?!” [laughs]
That’s never been who he is and I was thinking about what the characters would say and Ravager would go “You’re not being rational and you’ve never been rational.” But with some of his thought processes after everything that happened with Respawn, she would call him out. She knew Respawn better than [Deathstroke] did so, for him to go running around with this motivation that his son died again so no one should ever put on a costume again and legacy should be gone, no one should follow in anyone’s footsteps, Ravager would be the one to call him out.
Daniel, the scene where Deathstroke unleashes the Great Darkness on the Secret Society of Super-Villains is perhaps as horror-driven a sequence as we’ve seen in this story so far. How was building the tension and terror?
Daniel Sampere: That scene was super fun because I’m a big fan of horror stories and movies. After doing a lot of superhero stuff, going to do horror was super cool. I tried to approach these pages like doing a horror movie, with darkness, shadows, hiding Deathstroke’s facial expressions to make him more evil and creepy. When he finally spits up the Great Darkness, I tried to do it as a mix of horror and disgusting stuff which was really fun.
This issue also starts on an emotional note with the heroes in disarray and recovering from the disastrous fight in the last issue. How was it finding that raw vulnerability there?
Sampere: Whenever I read a script, I try to understand the emotions and feelings that I’m supposed to put there. Sometimes it’s hard because it’s a situation I can’t relate to but I try to understand what I would feel in this situation, what would be my gestures, body language, and face. I try to do it as good as I can but it’s important for me not to make the characters overreact; I don’t like overreactions, even in comic books. There’s a place for them in certain situations but not when heroes are mourning.
We’ve caught glimpses of Pariah before but this is the most we’ve seen of him since Justice League #75. How was it having him square up against Hal Jordan?
Williamson: It was just fun and I know that Daniel loves drawing Hal Jordan so I keep that in mind when I’m working on this. Pariah is only in this issue for four pages but I always make sure that Pariah has a presence. We were just talking about overacting and Pariah is the one allowed to overact, his hands are always in the air and you can see that whenever Daniel draws him; he always has presence.
To throw him up against Hal, whenever someone is overacting and being theatrical around Hal, he’d just be like “Okay, buddy…I think you need to calm down a little bit.” Hal is the one that would try to dress him down a little bit. To have the two of them together was a lot of fun and we also have Kyle Rayner and Jo Mullein there and get to see them react to this whole situation. Kyle has done stuff like this before in his career and Jo’s done stuff but not like this, with someone trying to destroy the multiverse so they can bring back what was lost.
I really like writing Hal and this was one of my favorite sections, this whole part where they go to Sector 666 into the battle. This is probably the longest scene in the whole book because everything else [changes] so fast and maybe 2-3 pages long. It was just fun to see these two characters, who are not alike at all, go up against each other.
Sector 666 and Planet Ryut have a very sinister place in DC crossover history. What was it about tying the legacy of Blackest Night into the Great Darkness?
Williamson: When you go back and look at that event and some of the stuff Alan Moore was setting up, it was clearly connected. They didn’t touch on it as heavily as we do here but it was connected. Ram V, Dan Watters, and Alex Paknadel are doing Dark Crisis: The Deadly Green and they talk a lot about all these connections with the dark. They really dive into the idea that these pieces of darkness in DC, especially in the last 30 years, have all been connected in some way. We hinted at it in stuff like Justice League Incarnate but they really hit it in hard and outline how it’s connected. There’s a moment in issue #4 where two characters know something is up with the Great Darkness and we explore it after that, it’s an awesome scene.
Daniel, as a massive Green Lantern fan, how was it drawing the Green Lantern Corps arriving on Ryut and Hal squaring off against Pariah?
Sampere: That was great because it was like the cover but with more space to draw so it was a lot of fun. One of the things that I love about Hal is that he’s a straight-shooter and as Pariah is talking about his plans, he’s just like “Dude, shut up” and goes right into it.
Williamson: Yeah, there are these worlds and he just goes into it. It’s about him consistently being fearless and diving into this thing.
Sampere: He doesn’t think twice and that’s one of the most fun things for me about the character and drawing him. It was also because Alex [Sanchez] did an amazing job with the colors and it all looks good. The part that comes after the fight was also amazing to draw because it’s weird, strange, and I could create a little bit of craziness there. With every panel of this issue, I hope people will love it.
Williamson: We got the JSA in here and you did such an awesome job with the JSA. One of my favorite parts of the issue is when we get to the Legion of Doom at the end, I was so pumped about that. Every issue is written for the end, all building to that last page and about putting everything there. All the stuff in the beginning with Black Adam was all building to that moment where Adam says “We don’t need hope. We need doom.”
That was the arc of the issue and every issue is like that. The first issue was all about having to find our way in the dark. Pariah’s belief is that good things can come out of the dark and you need the dark for that to happen. He’s going to make things really dark by killing the Justice League and all this stuff and then good things will happen, that’s what Pariah believes. The second has things super screwed-up, with the heroes losing and going through this moral defeat but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel with Kyle Rayner and the Green Lantern Corps. It reiterates the ideas of having the darkness and, all of a sudden, here’s this good thing.
Here, we’re doing the same thing but the good thing is that Legion of Doom is here to save the day. Every issue follows this pattern in a way. Issue #2 was one I knew Daniel would get really excited about and this one was for me. [laughs] I get to have my Legion of Doom at the end. Issue #4 has the big ending we revealed at San Diego Comic-Con, with the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Issue #5 has one of my favorite endings, all building to an “oh shit” moment. I’m not sure which issue ending is my favorite yet but I always try to write to the ending so that, when you get to the last page, you have to read the next issue. Having this one end with the Legion of Doom is one of my favorites.
In reintroducing the Legion of Doom, the supervillain side of the DCU is in a weird place. Shadow War pitted the League of Shadows against the Secret Society and now the Legion of Doom is about to take on the corrupted Secret Society. What is the state of the supervillain community in the DCU right now?
Williamson: It’s in these little cliques. That was a big part of Deathstroke Inc. and Calculator says “There are two types of villains – the kind that want world domination or to blow up the multiverse and the kind that just wants the money. They don’t want the world, they want their island.” There’s a conflict there, it’s what Libra and Calculator were dealing with; they were trying to avoid having another villain rise up and try to take over the world.
The problem is that, in the process of that, Deathstroke fell into that same hole of spreading the darkness because he’s being manipulated by Pariah. The other side of this event, I don’t think any villain will get along with any other villain but that’s a whole other thing that I probably shouldn’t talk about. [laughs]
It makes me think of Crisis on Infinite Earths, when the villains from the surviving five universes start turning on each other.
Williamson: Yeah, that part when they kill Psimon by shooting him in the head, I always loved that part. It’s funny because he wins at the end of an issue and, in the next issue, Lex just takes him down immediately. I imagine when that book was coming out monthly, it must’ve been bonkers every month because things like that would happen, with Psimon trying to step up.
I have Crisis on Infinite Earths all marked up with annotations and I was talking to Ram about The Deadly Green and I’d show him the pages from Crisis that tied into it.
We get to see the Green Lantern pocket universe in this issue and it reminds me of Justice or The Dark Knight Strikes Again when Hal lives inside his Power Rings. How was it bringing this world to life visually and in the script?
Williamson: That one, in particular, was actually built by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Fernando Blanco. For each one of the specials, I reached out to each person and talked to them about what these worlds were because these were new worlds that we were building and they were going to be little prisons for each member of the Justice League. I gave that to every one of the writers and, with that one in particular, Phillip and Fernando started talking.
One of my priorities was to have fun and bring in the artist, for sure, to be visual, and make toys. I said this at the San Diego Dark Crisis panel but I told them 'Please don’t be sad!' and Tom King could still not help himself. [laughs] The big goal was to make fun and with the Green Lantern world, we knew it was going to be full of Green Lanterns but there’s a whole mythology to that world you’ll get when you read the Green Lantern special that comes out right after issue #3.
Sampere: It was pretty easy to work with Alejandro on it. I told him that this needs to all be a green energy construct and he was like “Got it!” [laughs] I remember in one shot the sky was blue and I said to make the sky green and that was it.
Williamson: I’m writing a little bit to myself sometimes and sometimes to Daniel. I just want everyone to have fun with it. If I was a reader, I’d be pumped seeing all those Green Lanterns and I knew Daniel would too, seeing this whole Green Lantern world. I hope this is a page-turner, that’s always my goal, to make something that’s cool or gets people interested and excited.
What can you tease, moving forward, as we hit the halfway point on Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths?
Williamson: We just revealed the full title and that the infinite Earths are coming back, which is a really big spoiler for issue #4. With the first three issues, we intended it to be a slow burn because it’s all character pieces, which I really wanted to do here. We had just come out of Dark Nights: Death Metal, which was this gigantic concert or rock show. I wanted to start this differently and ease into a more intimate and personal story.
There are still gigantic set pieces and crazy things happening around everywhere but I wanted to start it more personally and have it build and build. Realistically, once the fighting starts in issue #4, the fighting continues until the middle of issue #7. There are moments where people realize what’s happening but, once the shit hits the fan in issue #4, it’s nonstop until issue #7. It’s really fun for me and I feel really bad for Daniel because every issue we’re adding more characters. [laughs]
There’s a script for one of the specials and Mark Waid wrote this whole thing at the front of it basically apologizing to the artist. [laughs] He basically broke down how many characters there are in this issue and said “If you need to kill anybody, kill Josh.” Every issue just gets bigger and bigger.
Sampere: There are more and more characters and less days to do it! No worries [laughs]
Williamson: I feel bad but now we’re in it! Issue #6 has some of my favorite stuff in the whole book but I think #5 is my favorite issue currently but we’ll see, I’m really excited!
Sampere: The first three issues are building, the fourth seems like a turning point, and the rest is a big explosion.
Williamson: Yeah, we’re in crazy land now. By the time someone gets to issue #7, it’s a crazy rollercoaster and then we ease you back into #7 and then it goes back up again! [laughs]
Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #3 is on sale now. The series is written by Joshua Williamson, penciled by Daniel Sampere, inked by Sampere, Daniel Henriques, and Danny Miki, colored by Alejandro Sanchez, and lettered by Tom Napolitano. Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #4 goes on sale Sept. 6 from DC Comics. Reprints of the first three issues, with special retro foil variant covers, go on sale August 30.