Dark Crisis: Worlds Without a Justice League – Superman #1 is a tie-in comic published by DC Comics, written by Tom King, art by Chris Burnham, colours by Adriano Lucas, and letters by Troy Peteri. The second story is titled ‘Aquaman Has Everything,’ written by Brandon Thomas, art by Fico Ossio, colours by Sebastian Cheng, and letters by Peteri. Both stories show worlds where the heroes are active but there is no Justice League. In the first story, Jon Kent starts learning about the dangers that exist beyond Earth. And in the second story, Aquaman’s family celebrates a momentous occasion.
This comic is split into two stories that are very different in tone. Each story follows the premise that each world does not have a Justice League team, but The first is very dark for almost the entirety of the tale as a young Jon starts to have dreams and learn about the wider universe. King splits the plot between years as the young Superboy grows up. The coming of age aspect of this half of the book is hidden within two scary acts. The mystery is activated early and from the start the dialogue and the pace are nervous and it set me on edge. That notion of the characters being aware of something far far away and the hunches of who it is makes the story unpredictable. Where the story ends was very surprising and whilst it isn’t positive, there are notions of hope and love deep within it.
The love is clear to see inside Aquaman’s story too, although the structure is not as effective as the story that comes before it. This tale has a positive vibe for 95 percent of it as there are preparations for some ceremony. But the contents of the story ultimately feel weak, especially due to the ending. Whilst what happens is effective as a gut punch and raises suspicion for a history that may never be revealed, it leaves what we have just read seem pointless. The actual reasoning for the ceremony is weak and any action is exciting but lacks consequence.
Both books have a common theme that connects them; family. But King and Thomas approach the application of that concept differently. In the Superman story, the chemistry is uncomfortable. While the connection the trio have is clear, exposed secrets make it difficult for the family to stay the same by the end. In Aquaman’s adventure, there is much more warmth. The cast in this half of the issue is much larger, featuring most of Arthur’s family. That many characters in a rather short plot can make it seem noisy, but the changes made to that world are fascinating and bring a smile to the fact.
The darker world that this Superman and his family live in is accentuated by the art. Burnham has a superb ability to etch pure fear onto the faces of his characters. When Jon has a nightmare, the lines in his eyes add a terrifying quality. Crosshatching occurs where the darkness shifts into the light, extending the shadows so that they threaten to envelop everyone. The action shows off the power of the fighters but does not relent in showing brutal injuries. Jon is venturing into territories that he is not used to and the scale of what he goes up against is daunting.
As for Aquaman’s story, there is a completely different art style. Every character looks majestic, with rippling muscles and large proportions granting Aquaman and others a powerful presence. All of the designs also seem grander than their Earth-Prime counterparts, and some characters are granted epic, brand-new suits of armour. Atlantis looks amazing, as does every location included in this part of the comic. That may be one negative of the art in the Superman story; the house itself seems devoid of detail. But the overbearing darkness within it has a huge impact on the creepiness the pages contain.
The colours are varied in each story in Dark Crisis: Worlds Without a Justice League Superman #1 too. Aquaman’s half is awash with vibrancy and rich shades. The deep blue of the sea in the background allows the stunning details to pop in front of it. The gold that is commonly used has a regal shine to it, and any energy or powers used crackle off the page. In the Superman story, Clark has been deprived of his classic blue suit. Instead, it is a darker costume similar to what he wore in Superman: Red Son. For the first part of this story, the light is purposefully weak or oppressive, reflecting the tone. But this does change as the comic continues however, The lettering is fantastic throughout the comic.
Dark Crisis: Worlds Without a Justice League Superman #1 consists of conflicting quality. Both stories are interesting to read but not what I expected from this alternate universe take. Whilst there isn’t a Justice League and the tonal shifts in the book are clear, both maintain a recognisable core of characters. Superman’s story is fantastic with palpable emotions and instantly engaging. It isn’t easy to read but it is worthwhile. The Aquaman story is beautiful to look at, but the story isn’t as gripping and is easily forgettable. So instead of meshing together to make a great book, the two tales threaten to tear it apart.
Dark Crisis: Worlds Without a Justice League – Superman #1 is available where comics are sold.
Dark Crisis: Worlds Without a Justice League - Superman #1
Dark Crisis: Worlds Without a Justice League – Superman #1 consists of conflicting quality. Both stories are interesting to read but not what I expected from this alternate universe take. Whilst there isn’t a Justice League and the tonal shifts in the book are clear, both maintain a recognisable core of characters.