When it comes to superhero events, Dark Crisis On Infinite Earths has a little bit of everything. (Thanks in part to the big action of Daniel Sampere’s lines to a narrative that openly celebrates the legacy of crisis in DC Comics’ long history.) It’s an event so big, we’ve talked to writer Joshua Williamson about it several times in recent months! That includes deep dives on the Road to Dark Crisis and what to make of the very first issue, Now, though, it’s now time to discuss the midway point of the giant-sized event.
As you might expect, the series has arrived at a turning point, with legacy characters Barry Allen and Hal Jordan leading the charge to save the previously “dead” Justice League. After unpacking the “Brave and the Bold,” Williamson also digs into his writing process, what he learned from John Romita Jr., and so much more!
Warning: Spoilers ahead for Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #4!
AIPT: To start, how did it come to be that Barry and Hal were the focus? What did they represent coming from the Silver Age and also being characters with some major Rebirths of their own?
Josh Williamson: They represent that era, the Silver Age era, and I wanted to try to find ways to represent as many of the era’s as possible. This is about legacy, right? Like I wanted to make sure all the different eras are represented. But even with Hal and Barry it’s been a long time since you’ve seen them together and seeing the “brave and the bold” together. From a pure story position, Barry has been gone for over a year now. He basically left when Infinite Frontier #0, and so he was gone. I already set up that he was gonna be a major player going forward.
And then with Hal, because Hal had been kind of off doing other stuff for so long, I wanted to bring Hal back into the DCU in a major way. And so it made sense to me that this is the role the two of them are gonna fill in this story. Wally was gonna save Barry, but Hal and Barry being together in this story, being the brave and the bold that go and get the Justice League back together from a story standpoint, always just like totally tracked to me and just made logical sense that that would be the roles they would fill. Definitely, the Silver Age, a little bit of this weird bridge between the old guard and the new guard, and two characters had different points of view on legacy.
AIPT: How are their points of view different on legacy?
Barry has clearly embraced the idea of legacy. And I think throughout the story, he’ll embrace it even more. You’ll see that later. And then with Hal being a character who is such a cowboy risk taker that, he’s not as bad as Bruce, but like Hal is not necessarily a family man. But he still has this humongous network of family now because of the Green Lantern Corps. What’s interesting is it’s not his legacy. It isn’t like he started the legacy the way Batman did or the way Superman did. And the same thing with Barry. They’re both technically legacy characters we kind of forget are legacy characters.
Whenever I hear these arguments of “Oh we don’t want characters to replace characters.” I’m like, “so you just want Alan Scott and Jay Garrick this whole time,” don’t get me wrong, I love Alan Scott and Jay Garrick, but that Silver Age evolution of DC comics, we all kind of love and accepted. It’s the same thing when you get to the early nineties when all these new heroes were coming around. And then purely from a writer’s standpoint, I like writing them together. I’ve only been able to write them together once in Flash. There was an opportunity here to do it, and I thought thematically, character-wise, and story logic-wise, it made sense.
AIPT: Issue #4 brings up Batman Who Laughs and Perpetua. With this event, were you already crafting it when Dark Nights Death Metal was in development, and as a follow-up to that, do you know what the event will be in 2025, 2026 at DC comics?
JW: Yes, to the first question, when we were working on Death Metal I definitely was thinking about the Death of the Justice League stuff. I was definitely thinking about the sidekicks. I had pitched the idea of doing something that revolved around the sidekicks with the new generation characters. I knew I wanted to do an event, and I knew I wanted it to be different. And that was a big piece of, it was different points of view. So I would say we started really hardcore talking about this, probably in October of 2020. So before Death Metal. Do I know what the events are? I can’t say how far I know, but I probably know much further than you would think. <Laugh>
I know the stuff for 2023 and we’re talking about 2024 stuff. I know there are definitely plans, and there are really big ideas, but where those ideas fall, I can’t say for sure. I’ll give you an example, I pitched Shadow War in 2016. And, again in 2020, in my brain, I was like, this is gonna happen in 2021. And then I remember [Editor] Ben Abernathy was like, I actually see this as a 2022 thing. In that moment, I was a little bummed out cause I was being impatient. But he was correct.
AIPT: The flow of issue #4 is really good. When you’re plotting it out, do you think about where a big beat story moment or full-page splash will go?
JW: I have two whiteboards specifically for issues. What I do is, before I start writing, I lay out the entire issue on a whiteboard. I basically go through thinking about the rhythm a lot and the balance of the issue. And then I think about the artists, and I don’t want to have them draw a nine-panel page and then an eight-panel page or whatever. I’m happy to do a nine-panel the next page, you’ll have three.
AIPT: So you’re pacing the artist, too, not just the story?
JW: I try to think about them, I try to make sure I’m not driving them too crazy. I mean, Daniel [Sampere], I think I’m driving Daniel a little nuts, but I try to balance things out. And then I just go through the issue to see what actually happens in this issue. So it’s not just people talking.
I also look at it from like the comic’s perspective. Like I’m not writing a movie script. One of the things I wanna avoid, and I see this happen with comics sometimes, is I feel like someone has a story and they just shove it in a 22-page with no rhyme or reason of it being a comic book. As a comic book, and I’m really lucky that most of the artists I work with are also thinking about, they’re not thinking of like beat for beat, they’re thinking how does this work as a page. Like John Romita Jr. and I had this talk during dinner one time, totally namedropping, and he said every panel is a story, every page has to be this, and then it’s the comic. It balloons out from each small thing.
AIPT: Pariah knows precisely what kind of worlds he can trap the Justice League in. For fans who might be wondering, how does he know?
JW: He doesn’t know. We’ll get into this a little bit in #6 without trying to spoil later stuff that’s happening. Those worlds are based on them so it’s from their thoughts, not his. So he actually doesn’t know for sure what it’s gonna generate. He can kind of play with it. This comes up in one of the two specials. In the Green Arrow special, it comes up, and then in Deadly Green it comes up and kind of touches on this, but mostly the Green Arrow special has a lot of this. The Green Arrow special actually goes deeper into how the worlds are made than anything else. More than any other special.
AIPT: So Pariah, he’s using one of those AI DALL E generators for the Justice League. Is that right? <laugh> Can I get confirmation on that?
JW: <laughs> No! He plugs them in and then their minds are the things that fill in the blank.
AIPT: This issue draws on a big thing in with Swamp Thing. Would you say to fans, maybe they should go pick up Swamp Thing #46 and #50?
JW: Oh yeah. <laugh> I feel like that’s been kind of known. You should definitely read those. And then it’s funny. I might post this. There’s a really awesome scene in the Deadly Green one shot where John Constantine is talking about his super séance, and it’s a bunch of superheroes and a co-magic. Thing It’s awesome. Yeah, we definitely do some callbacks to those issues. One of the things that Ram V and I talked about last year was that Ram wanted to make sure that Levi didn’t disappear. That’s a character in the DCU. Having them here, having them be in this issue, and then having them see the Deadly Green issue, I wanted to make sure it was clear that that character was an important character that Ram had created and was gonna stay around. They weren’t just gonna go away. So you should definitely read that one.
AIPT: Last question. So the Great Darkness is corrupted or might be corrupted. What might we call whatever corrupts the Great Darkness. And is it the Greater Darkness?
JW: Oh, uh, that’s too much of a spoiler for Deadly Green and issues five and six. The Great Darkness stuff might surprise you. It’s not what people think.
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