03rd Dec2019

‘Tales From the Dark Multiverse: Infinite Crisis #1′ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by James Tynion IV | Art by Aaron Loprestri, Matt Ryan | Published by DC Comics

multiverse-infinite-crisis-1-cover

I know they are , in many respects, just giving the fans what they want, but these Dark Multiverse alternate takes on DC history have been hugely entertaining. This sort of thing has of course been done before, many times in fact, but DC are really putting some good creators on the books, and putting serious thought into the basic ‘what if?’ concept. This time around it is the turn of Infinite Crisis, that DC event that saw the death of Blue Beetle, the reveal of Maxwell Lord as a villain, and the rise of Batman security-system-gone-wrong OMAC. Most importantly, of course, the Multiverse returned because of the shenanigans of Alexander Luthor, and Superboy-Prime, who, with the original Superman Kal-L and Lois had been living in a manufactured Paradise since the end of the original Crisis on Infinite Earths. That was our story, though. How did the story play out elsewhere?

We get the standard introduction from Watcher-wannabe Tempus Fuginaut, which does a good job of explaining the lead up to events, how Alex Luthor, Superboy-Prime, and Kal-L despaired of how dark and bad the new world was becoming, the Earth they had helped create. How Alex Luthor manipulated everyone, especially, Prime, and how it all ended in tragedy. Everything started of course with the death of Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle, who alone had realised something bad was happening. What if he didn’t die? Could the events of Infinite Crisis have been averted? Tempus invites us to take a look…

In this reality, Blue Beetle is the one that kills Maxwell Lord, not the other way around. He then takes control of Checkmate, the spy organisation Lord headed, as well as the OMAC Project, becoming the new Black King. Unlike Lord, who wanted to infect millions with a nanotech virus, Ted wants to use OMAC to take down the villains. He finds and brings down the new Secret Society of Super-Villains, he finds and recruits the Secret Six group of villains, stops Jean Loring become Eclipso, and meets with Shazam to try and stop the Spectre becoming the menace he did in our reality. Man’s a villain ending dude, right? Gets better. Ted managed to avert the Rann-Thanagar war that ripped our DC Universe apart. Blue Beetle has become the biggest hero on the planet.

Or has he? Batman thinks Ted has too much power concentrated in his hands, and that he’s not intellectually capable of maintaining control of it. He tells him this, and is politely told to back off. Even Beetle’s best friend Booster Gold can’t get through, trying to persuade Ted that this is all starting to go too far, he is overstepping what he should be doing. In some ways, Booster observes, you are becoming Maxwell Lord. It’s a great little exchange between two characters with a lot of history. Ted’s convinced he is making the world a better place, and nothing will change his mind. Although finding the corpses of Lex Luthor, Deathstroke, and Black Adam among others may start giving him pause for thought.

Alexander Luthor and Superboy-Prime have entered the game, and are a little annoyed that Beetle has ruined their grand plan to reshape reality. So, nothing to do but fight…but, this time, with words. Luthor tries to persuade Ted that this is the ‘wrong’ Earth, it must be destroyed and a new, purer one created. Ted tries to persuade Luthor that yes, it is flawed, but it deserves saving. Luthor’s not buying, and kills the original Superman just to prove it, but Ted wasn’t really talking to him at all. It was Superboy-Prime, who not appreciating Luthor’s tone promptly incinerates him with extreme prejudice. A new team is in town, Blue and Supes. Now Beetle has the power to make the final push on making this world the peaceful one it was meant to be. Brother Eye/OMAC identifies the last obstacle left. The Justice League. Oh.

It gets messy, very messy indeed. Many don’t survive, and Ted ends up becoming every bit as bad as the foes he claimed to be fighting. Superboy-Prime is still an insane murderer, the heroes still fight back, and the OMAC virus still gets deployed and takes over Earth, only this time by Ted for Earth’s own good. The Crisis was never averted, it was just pushed sideways by another, perhaps even worse, Crisis. A great hero became a great villain, and absolute power corrupted absolutely. Ted’s intentions were good but, as Batman pointed out, he was not smart enough to control the powers he unleashed. Perhaps no one could control that much power. Certainly not one lonely bug.

I absolutely loved this. The writing was superb, and at times the art was breathtaking. Tynion clearly put a lot of thought into how the story would have naturally evolved, and all his characters were pitch perfect in their actions and dialogue. His Beetle was excellent, a good man drawn into doing bad things, and the Ted Kord we all recognised. Although all the widescreen action was fantastic, some of the best bits were the character interactions, especially between Ted and Batman, and Ted and Booster. Superbly written from start to end. The artwork, by Loprestri and Ryan was blisteringly good. Technically near perfect, with lovely clean lines and perfectly paced layouts, and some incredible individual panels. The full page Alexander Luthor/ Superboy-Prime incineration page was just incredible work. I thought the art near perfect in general, but most definitely perfect for this project. A labour of love by all.

As far back as Ancient Greece people have loved a ‘good man gone bad’ story, Shakespeare popularised the ‘heavy is the head that wears the crown’ theme, and Stan Lee used to say that his villains were just normal people who sometimes did bad things. Ted Kord in this story was all of the above. An everyman who tried his best, but ultimately failed. Power is , ultimately, corrupting, and the Dark Multiverse does love a bit of corruption.

A perfect side note to one of DC’s major flagship events. What a read.

***** 5/5

Tales From the Dark Multiverse: Infinite Crisis #1 is out now from DC Comics.

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