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Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #5: All the Shocking Twists Explained by Joshua Williamson and Daniel Sampere

The battle for the fate of the DC Multiverse takes shape as Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths continues. Creators Joshua Williamson and Daniel Sampere discuss the fifth issue’s big twists and turns.

Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #5 excerpt
Image credit: DC

After licking their wounds from the disastrous opening battle at Titans Tower, the heroes are ready to turn the tide and take the fight back to the assembled supervillains as the DC crossover event Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths continues. Nightwing leading the Titans against Deathstroke’s corrupted supervillain army coincides with the Justice League emerging from the pocket universes the cosmic enemy Pariah trapped them in to power the creation of a new multiverse. And though the heroes may have rallied to make their valiant last stand, the odds are increasingly stacked against them as Pariah’s Dark Army, visions of the DC Universe’s greatest foes, finally makes its way down to Earth.

Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #5, by Joshua Williamson and Daniel Sampere, is packed with plenty of shocking revelations and major character moments, including developments building off the tie-in special Dark Crisis: The Deadly Green #1 by Ram V, Dan Watters, Alex Paknadel, Daniel Bayliss, Tom Derenick, George Kambadais, and Brent Peeples. As Nightwing rallies the heroes to take on the supervillain coalition, the cause of the Great Darkness’ shocking transformation stands revealed. Meanwhile, the Justice League reassembles to take on Pariah directly, with a cosmically upgraded Superman leading the charge.

In an interview with Popverse, Williamson and Sampere explain Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #5’s biggest moments, share the inspirations and behind-the-scenes process in bringing the action-packed issue to life, and tease what readers can expect next as the battle for the DC Multiverse reaches its explosive final battle.

Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #5 excerpt
Image credit: DC
Spoilers ahead for October 4's Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #5.

Popverse: In contrast to the previous issue, Nightwing is ready to take the fight back to Deathstroke. What was it about having this big Titans Together moment in the issue?

Joshua Williamson: I was always going to get to this, Daniel and I always knew this was about the Titans. We’ve talked about this being about the generations that came, not just after the Justice League, but before – the JSA, Titans, Young Justice, and all these other characters that have been introduced – it’s about them. From the very beginning, with no Justice League and the fact that Black Adam kept hammering them with “You are not the Justice League and you’re incapable of this because you’re not the Justice League.”

It was always building to this moment where Nightwing would turn around and go 'Yeah, we’re the Titans! We’re 100% capable of doing this, we’ve saved the world too.' It was always building to this moment and I always talk about my books being rollercoasters, so I wanted this moment to be that 'Hell yeah, we’re the Titans!' moment and then you keep reading and it’s like 'Oh no! There’s something very bad coming!'

This is the balance and I really wanted this to be the issue where Nightwing starts stepping up. This kind of takes place at the same time as The Deadly Green issue so there are things in that that fade into this. I just really wanted show Nightwing and the young characters act like they could do this.

Daniel, I’m always a sucker for a Flash fight scene so I loved that panel of Barry Allen running around Batman along with Hal Jordan reclaiming his Green Lantern Power Ring. How was it pitting the Brave and the Bold against the Dark Knight?

Daniel Sampere: It was very fun! I like the design from Ryan Sook for Batman, I think it’s super cool so it was easy to make it look cool. The opportunity was there for a shot with multiple Flash images to show how silly it is for Batman to try to punch the Flash; I wanted to show that feeling in that panel and I think it shows that. I’m always a sucker for Green Lantern so making that panel of the costume coming back and having Hal at full power was great to do.

Williamson: I didn’t really think of it as the Brave and the Bold vs. the Dark Knight and I guess it is sort of that. A lot of times you think of Hal as fearless and Barry as hope, that dynamic, but in this moment, Hal is the one to step forward with compassion. He steps forward and is like 'Remember your family and this is what matters,' and that’s what snaps him out of it.

I didn’t really think of it as a fight scene, partially because we didn’t really have the time or room, we had to move because there’s a lot going on in this issue. Daniel’s drawings are always amazing and you can see how much he loves Hal Jordan but he also draws such an amazing Flash.

Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #5 excerpt
Image credit: DC

Was there ever a version of the Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths main series that featured more of Jon Kent sharing his realization about the Great Darkness or was the payoff always intended for The Deadly Green?

Williamson: I think in a very early version, there was a moment where I wanted to show that Pariah’s machine was trapped in the Great Darkness and had been there for a very long time. It’s not like it’s responsible for what made the Great Darkness but it’s what connects them. It’s not like the Great Darkness is using Pariah as its little puppet, it’s more that that's what connects them and Pariah is using the powers, that’s what upgraded him. In issue #6, there’s a scene between Yara Flor and Pariah that gets a little bit deeper into that. Issue #6 has a lot of Pariah stuff, big Pariah moments happen in issue #6.

There was a time really early on where I thought I might’ve had this here but, the more and more I started thinking about it, I thought it should be its own book. Early on, I thought I needed this one-shot to do this and I had a lot of conversations with different writers. One of the writers I talked to a lot about this was Ram V because Ram was writing The Swamp Thing and – this is how far back this goes – Ram and Dan Watters were working on Justice League Dark and Dan had been working on Lucifer. They had been working on a space around that and they would mention the Great Darkness in Justice League Dark so if we were doing this one-shot, I knew who was doing it. [laughs]

I knew it would be Ram, Dan, and Alex Paknadel very early on and once it became clear how things were spacing out, I didn’t want to shove a scene in issue #6 because these issues are packed. There’s no room to put anymore in and I don’t want to kill Daniel. I knew we were going to do a one-shot and it made sense for them to do it. That one-shot and Dark Crisis: The Dark Army became so crucial and you can tell we kind of burned past it, with Jon saying this is what happened. If you want to know what happened, you have to read those.

Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #5 excerpt
Image credit: DC

Daniel, one of my favorite panels in the book is the big charge led by Nightwing out of the Hall of Justice, with all the classic artwork from past iterations of the Justice League in the background.

Sampere: This page is one of the highlights of the entire series for me. From the beginning, when Josh told me about the main plot, there were crucial moments he told me about and one of them was definitely this charge with Nightwing leading it. I was expecting to do this page from the very beginning and couldn’t wait to draw this page. I’m happy you liked the background; at the beginning, I didn’t catch the script right so on my layouts was the building and I put them all on the outside. Josh saw it and told me they were still on the inside.

The building is very iconic so I didn’t just want the characters looking good but I wanted something on the background that was iconic also, not something random. Thinking about the museum in the building, I thought of the artwork by Jim Cheung from Dark Crisis #0 on Free Comic Book Day. He drew that amazing painting of all those Justice Leagues so I had the idea of putting that painting in the background and I think it looks cool and I hope people like it.

Williamson: It was a nice touch, you did a really great job.

Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #5 excerpt
Image credit: DC

Walk me through what happens to Superman when he goes cosmic.

Williamson: These worlds are based on [the heroes], it’s kind of the mistake that Pariah made. Pariah thought he was trapping them in prisons of their own design, trapping them in these dream worlds that are manifestations of their own thoughts. He’s manipulated them a little bit and we get more of that in Dark Crisis: Worlds Without a Justice League - Green Arrow, they talk about it a little bit more. There’s a scene where Pariah explains it to Black Canary and Green Arrow.

They all figure it out and Superman, of course, is Superman so he totally knows that this is a dream world. It might sound silly but I believe that Superman has super dreaming and, if it’s a dream world and he’s lucid in that dream, he can control it and control the world. That’s what’s happening, if he can control it and knows it’s all fake as he becomes lucid, he takes control. That’s why you get this cool cosmic Superman moment because he’s in control of that world and pulling it into himself to help them escape. He has everyone just focus on their friends and that’s what pulls them all together to get out of these worlds and that’s what they do to get out of these worlds together.

Daniel, how was it designing this cosmic Superman and all these scenes with infinite Earths hanging overhead, leaning more into sci-fi?

Sampere: Cosmic Superman was pretty natural. I put stars and cosmic stuff on his body and gave him a big presence. The troubles came a little bit later because, at the beginning, I made him look [photo] negative. I just realized he looked too much like the Negative Superman that already exists and we tried to make him look a little bit different with some touches. I’m happy with how it looks now, I think it’s pretty cool and it’s one of my favorite parts of the book, when he’s like 'I already know [this world is fake], I’m Superman.' [laughs]

Williamson: I think he also realized that he couldn’t do it by himself, that was a piece of it.

Sampere: When I started working on the series, I was a little bit afraid because of the cosmic stuff. I’ve worked on some cosmic stuff before but it wasn’t my best [stuff]. Working on it, I feel more comfortable doing it every time and I’m used to it now. Now it’s easier for me to do, I have my stars and planets and I know how to do it and I’m comfortable doing it and it’s very fun.

Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #5 excerpt
Image credit: DC

What’s happened to Ravager? The last we saw her, she was calling out how much Deathstroke had changed and now he has her chained and orders to kill Nightwing.

Williamson: It’s because she’s possessed the same way that he is. It’s this corrupted version of the darkness that Pariah has created and that is possessing people, possessing the Dark Army and Deathstroke. It turns you into a shadow of yourself, that’s what they say way back in Justice League #75. Some of the stuff from Justice League #75 is going to play a big role as we get deeper in; the Justice League realized it then, that they’re not really fighting [the villains], they’re fighting shadows of them. It turns you into a shadow of yourself and Deathstroke has a little bit more control.

There’s a scene between Pariah and Deathstroke at the start of issue #6 where they talk about this and Deathstroke is like “Free me from this.” Back in issue #3, Ravager was there when the darkness started to spread out and claim other characters so she also got hit and was corrupted in that moment. Like the Dark Army and all these other villains, she’s a shadow of herself, it’s not necessarily her.

With the Dark Army here, the odds are stacked against the heroes. What can you tease for Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #6?

Williamson: It’s bonkers! We made this joke back in San Diego, where it feels like I’m constantly apologizing to Daniel. [laughs] Issue #6 is nonstop fights from page 1 to page 24, there are two-page spreads and big things happening. I think it’s some of the best work that Daniel has ever done and there are pages in there that are so cool. This fight gets so intense, it’s so hard and rough, and I think it’ll surprise people with the directions that it goes.

I think the stuff that happens in issue #6 will surprise people because we twisted a couple of things around that you might not expect. Now you have the Dark Army, the Legion of Doom, the Secret Society of Super-Villains, Deathstroke, Pariah, and all of them together and then you have the Titans. [laughs] I love the Titans but it is a hard fight and involves a lot of heroes coming together and there are some big surprises in there. It’ll be really fun!

Sampere: Like Josh said, it’s super intense and I think it’s my favorite issue that I’ve ever had the chance to work on. There’s all these super big fights all the time but it’s not just punches, it’s full of heart all the time with these super big moments. I think people are going to be blown away by issue #6 and I can’t wait for everybody to see it. I dare to say that some may even cry.

Williamson: Yeah, it’s an emotional issue. A lot happens in this!

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Written by Joshua Williamson, illustrated by Daniel Sampere, colored by Alejandro Sanchez, and lettered by Tom Napolitano, Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #5 is on sale now from DC Comics. The story continues in Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #6, on sale Nov. 8.