After the death of the Justice League, the future of the DC Universe looks pretty dark – but Thursday morning’s DC’s Dark Crisis panel at San Diego Comic-Con looks set to shed some light on just what’s to come in the latest event from the publisher.
With two issues of the seven-issue series released, things aren’t looking good for the world’s greatest superheroes: Pariah and the Great Darkness have taken down the Justice League, and Deathstroke and his new Legion of Doom have done the same to the Teen Titans. With the Green Lantern Corps stepping up to help out – and, along the way, maybe help find the heroes currently considered missing, including the Young Justice team and Barry Allen’s Flash – only a few people know whether darkness will fall once and for all across the multiverse. Thankfully, a lot of them are here at this panel.
Scheduled to appear are Dark Crisis masterminds Joshua Williamson and Daniel Sampere, as well as Dark Crisis: Young Justice writer Meghan Fitzmartin, Worlds Without A Justice League: Superman’s Tom King, and The Flash’s Jeremy Adams.
Popverse will be liveblogging the entire panel as it happens, ready to pick up on the clues, teases and maybe even some outright spoilers about what’s lying in wait for DC’s iconic characters, so bookmark this page and follow along as it happens, or come back in an hour or so for the complete play-by-play.
Good morning, everyone. In the lead up to the DC's Dark Crisis panel, the technicians are attempting to make the speakers feedback on purpose for unknown but presumably necessary reasons. It feels like something that the Great Darkness would be proud of. Panel starts in around 15 minutes, so get ready.
Honestly, the feedback test is oddly pleasant so far, if somewhat like living in an episode of Twin Peaks: The Return.
Aaand we're off, with an animation on the big screens inviting fans to "explore the multiverse" on streaming service DC Universe Infinite.
Editor Ben Abernathy is moderating, and promising “amazing reveals” and talent announcements that won’t be available anywhere else. He's also happy about the retailer response to the Dark Crisis event.
The panel is introduced: Joshua Williamson, Daniel Sampere, Meghan Fitzmartin, Tom King, and Jeremy Adams.
Williamson recaps what's been going on in Dark Crisis. "I originally wanted to call it Happiness Crisis," he jokes. He teases that they might be about to spoil future issues by mistake.
"The way that everyone is reacting to the Justice League dying is causing conflict amongst the heroes," says Williamson. The villains don't care, they just want to take advantage of the chaos in the wake of the heroes' death. "I want to ask everyone here, did anyone of you actually believe that we were really going to kill Beast Boy?" he says, to laughter.
Williamson says that the fight between Jon Kent and Cyborg Superman in #2 is one of the favorite things that Daniel Sampere has drawn so far.
"One of the things that you learn is that the Justice League is not dead, Pariah has transformed them into their own worlds," says Williamson. He calls them "Happiness Prisons."
"That's the thing about writing a Crisis, it's a lot," says Williamson. "I've never seen so many apologies in a script," says Sampere.
Williamson and Sampere met for the first time in person yesterday. "I don't know if you know this, but Daniel's actually really tall," Williamson jokes. Before this, they've discussed everything virtually, he adds. "A lot of Zooms."
Abernathy jokes that Tom King writing a one-shot about a world where Superman is happy is "a little unusual" for King.
King says that the DC Universe exists for the last three years because of Williamson talking to all the creators and planning everything, and asks fans to give him a round of applause. (We do.)
King said Williamson asked him if he remembered "For the Man Who Has Everything" by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, and if he could do it again. "I said, could you make it fun and not sad?" Williamson said. "I made it sad!" King jokes.
King said that, as a father, Jon Kent aging when he's separated from Clark broke his heart. "To me, that's what he wants most. He wants those teenage years back." Those years aren't easy, but they're still beautiful, he says. "Superman's dream isn't happiness and perfection, because that's a fascist dream. He wants the messiness of life."
Williamson: "People were dying on the first page, and I went, oh, that's a Tom book."
King calls artist Chris Burnham the inheritor to Frank Quitely. Williamson calls him a "very thoughtful storyteller." Burnham used his own dad as a model for Superman, says King.
Adams says that Wally West is very like him. "He's very like me, he's married, he has two kids!" Fitzmartin adds, "and he's running on Red Bull!" "This is the slowest I've ever heard you speak," Williamson says.
"We've split up the Flash family to find Barry Allen," Adams says of his Dark Crisis tie-ins. "There are things that happen in those [non Barry Allen worlds] that will be meaningful in the Flash series moving forward."
"I find myself talking about artists as magic people," Adams says, about working in comics and how his art team translates his writing into visuals.
Meghan Fitzmartin talks about Dark Crisis: Young Justice. "They've all gone through a lot of stuff, Tim Drake especially." The series will pay tribute to what's happened in the past to the characters, and also how Crisises in general have impacted them. "They were set up to be the next generation of heroes... and they're not anymore."
The Young Justice heroes end up in "a world that is familiar, but not the current day and age," and have to grapple with how the present has failed to live up to what they want. "I want to make comics as sad as possible," she jokes. Talks about how Laura Brada and Max Dunbar have matched the mood of the 1990s Young Justice series.
Debuts the cover to Dark Crisis: Young Justice #5, featuring an unnamed character who is "the son of a major villain," but they're not revealing who just yet. "We won't find out who it is until #4," Fitzmartin says.
Williamson talks about part of Dark Crisis is to show that there are heroes beyond the Justice League, and that fans, like those in the DC Universe, can't always rely on the Justice League to take care of everything.
Black Adams wants the heroes to kill villains to warn others the price of fighting the heroes, says Williamson. The idea that heroes have to step outside of the expectation that the Justice League will take care of everything is central to Dark Crisis.
So much of Dark Crisis is about the DC Universe needing to grow, Williamson says.
Preview art from Dark Crisis #3 shows the arrival of the Justice Society of America. "How could you have a Crisis and not have the JSA in it?" Williamson says. Preview art also shows the Green Lantern Corps discovering that Nekron's Black Lantern has been reformed for some mysterious reason.
"We have the first appearance of Red Canary in #3," says Williamson. "Who's Red Canary?" asks King. "That's a secret," Williamson says. "You have to buy the book to find out."
A big reveal: "Dark Crisis is not actually called Dark Crisis," Williamson says. "We were worried that if we told you the real title, you'd know what was going to happen in the end." The real title is Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths. "Pariah's going to win," Williamson says. "The infinite earths are returning."
"Are the worlds we created for the Worlds Without A Justice League continuing?" asks King. "MAYBE," teases Williamson. ("Sweet!" says King.)
Williamson says that we'll get a Barry Allen/Hal Jordan team-up to bring the Justice League back to Earth, even though they don't know what's happening on Earth. That's a big part of #4.
Also upcoming: A big war between Black Adam, Lex Luthor, and Deathstroke. We'll see Deathstroke's army of villains against the Legion of Doom.
Deathstroke's army is called the Secret Society, Williamson says. So we'll be getting a Legion of Doom versus Secret Society war, starting in #4, which is also the issue where Dark Crisis will be retitled Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Williamson says that he's now writing more panels per page than usual, but Sampere is up to the challenge. "I'm putting ten panels on a page, and I'm thinking, do I need to put more?" Williamson says. "Maybe a little more," says Sampere.
King jokes about Williamson overworking Sampere. "Have you tried 'Darkseid Is'? That works great," he says.
We're shown a preview page of Pariah's hand recreating the infinite Earths; they're redoing the Krona origin of the multiverse.
#s 1-3 of the series will go back to press with the new title Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Reveal of #5 cover artwork, featuring the Justice League returned. The team will be back in action by the fifth issue of the series, Williamson promises.
Sales on Dark Crisis #3 went up from #2, which generates a round of applause in the room. "To see #3 go up means that everyone loves the book," Abernathy says.
A special surprise guest: Ram V!
Why is Ram V here? "I'll be writing the Dark Crisis: The Deadly Green one shot, which features Swamp Thing," he reveals.
Ram V will co-write with Williamson, Dan Watters, and Alex Paknadel. It'll feature the Swamp Thing and the Great Darkness.
The one-shot will feature the connection between the Green Lantern rings and the Great Darkness, as well as the magic users exploring what's going on with the cosmic Great Darkness. "I think DC magic especially is a great canvas to explore these metaphysical things."
Williamson says that it'll also feature Alan Scott, who's always had a connection with magic users. Ram V says that Jon Kent will also feature, even though he's not entirely comfortable with magic. Williamson says that we'll see Jon Kent combine his powers with Swamp Thing. "I think we're calling him Super Swamp Thing," he says.
Dark Crisis: The Dark Army, written by Dennis Culver, Delilah S. Dawson, and Mark Waid. Cover by Gleb Melnikov. It's a November 22 release.
"There were certain missions that I needed people to go on," Williamson says about Dark Army. The one-shot is about a character cocky enough to think that he can steal the Dark Army away from Pariah. That character? It's Damian Wayne.
"Things are bad and Damian decides to go on a secret mission," Williamson says. He'll also take Dr. Light, Red Canary, Power Girl, and Sideways with him. Williamson says the issue is "incredibly crucial" to the larger story.
The part of Dark Army that Mark Waid is writing will also tie-in to Batman vs. Robin, which he's also writing.
For more on Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths, including the new logo and artwork, check out our breakout article: https://www.thepopverse.com/dcs-dark-crisis-expands-to-infinite-earths-becoming-dark-crisis-on-infinite-earths
Dark Crisis: War Zone will be a street level look at the event, as seen through the eyes of Iris and Linda from the Flash. Williamson says it'll reveal five stories, and tie in with events from the main series' sixth issue, which features a big battle; the issue will feature big emotional beats from that battle in more depth.
Jeremy Adams says that the War Zone issue will feature the connection between Linda and Iris in a way that he's not been able to in the central Flash book yet.
"You'll see the effects of Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths throughout the DC Universe, especially afterwards," says Williamson.
I Am Batman #15 will feature Jace Fox versus Sinestro in a drag-down street fight, teases Abernathy. "This is maybe the first time we've seen Jace face down a core DC villain."
Abernathy says that all of the tie-ins for the main series are important parts of the whole story.
Abernathy asks panelists to recommend former DC events. Williamson says the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, which he calls a work of art. "You cannot repeat what they did," he says, calling out George Perez's artwork in particular.
Williamson also mentions Zero Hour, and Underworld Unleashed, because he's apparently inside my head right now. "I think the lead-up to Infinite Crisis was amazing," he adds.
Sampere says "The Sinestro Corps War is a favorite." Also Infinite Crisis. "I can't pick just one, I really love the big DC stuff." Sinestro Corps War had a "huge impact on me, when I was a teenager."
"Did we do Infinity Gauntlet?" asks Tom King. "That wasn't us? We should have done that, that was good." His serious answer is Armageddon 2001, because he is ALSO inside my head right now. (I love that comic.)
Fitzmartin says that her favorites are Identity Crisis and, on the other side, "Tiny Titans is great." Adams says that Millennium is a favorite that he won't go back and re-read. "It lives in my head in a certain room of nostalgia." He mentions Invasion, too.
Ram V says that he had a weird answer, because he didn't have access to individual issues growing up in India. "The closest thing I read, that felt like an event, was DC: The New Frontier... it emcompassed all the characters of the DCU coming together to solve this problem." He says it's a comfort that he still goes back to re-read.
Abernathy asks the panel if they have anything else they want to recommend. Williamson goes back to Dark Crisis, says that the first three issues are a slow burn and things get wilder from that point on. Sampere teases upcoming Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths issues, promising "big action."
Tom King mentions his Batman: One Bad Day - The Riddler one-shot with Mitch Gerads, which he describes as "as scary, and as impactful on the DC Universe as the Killing Joke." "It's maybe the biggest book I've ever written." Williamson says he's doing a One Bad Day one-shot with Bane, out in February.
Fitzmartin talks about "emotional conversations" in future Dark Crisis: Young Justice issues, and also talks about the upcoming Tim Drake: Robin series, describing Riley Rossmo's art on the series as "gorgeous" in such a sing-song voice that can't be reproduced in type. Sorry, all. Adams talks about Flashpoint Beyond, and Ram V says he's excited about his upcoming Detective Comics run, and the end of his Swamp Thing run, which ends with #16. He's also very excited about Aquaman: Andromeda, his Black Label series with Christian Ward.
And with that, the panel is over!
Thanks for reading along, everyone. And stay tuned for other liveblogs and reporting from Comic-Con all weekend here on Popverse.