Lazarus Planet: Dark Fate #1 is the latest in a slew of one shots featuring four 10 page vignettes exploring different corners of the DC Universe and how the Lazarus Storms are impacting its denizens. This issue features two brand new characters – Circuit Breaker and Xanthe Zhou – as well as two old favorites: The Huntress and Doom Patrol.
SPOILERS AHEAD for Lazarus Planet: Dark Fate #1!
In the first story, “Whispers of the Moth”, The Huntress is checking up on Arkham Tower. She runs into a who’s who of Z-list Batman villains including Onomatopoeia, The Cavalier, Big Top, and The Monarch of Menace all on her way to the head honcho, Killer Moth. If you have no idea who any of these characters are, don’t worry: Huntress helps the reader out with her internal monologue, listing the names and abilities of each foe she defeats, which I found immensely helpful.
Huntress is also one of the first characters in these one shots to independently connect the Lazarus Resin to Ra’s al Ghul and his Lazarus pits. Huntress has always been an outsider in the Bat Family. Never quite trusted by Batman because of her methods, she’s still willing to help the innocent and do the dirty work. The Lazarus Resin has given Killer Moth a psychic power of persuasion. He calls himself a “crime messiah” and preaches total self-interest bordering on egomania. Huntress hears the voice of Killer Moth in her head as well, but she’s able to ignore it and stick to her principles. She listens to a higher voice: her own.
The art by Baldemar Rivas and colors by Ivan Plascencia really set the mood for the whole story. From the ethereal greens of the Lazarus Storm, to the dark and dreary rooms of Arkham Tower and the maroon and purple tints given to action sequences. The character designs are also clever, turning the same prison outfits into distinct costumes that mimic each character’s actual supervillain costume.
The second vignette, “Storm Damaged”, features the Doom Patrol in a straightforward rescue mission. Negative Man, Robotman and Elasti-Woman are charged with rescuing tech sergeant Simon Choe, who has transformed into a metahuman monster due to the Lazarus Storms. They are on an isolated army base with an underground bunker and things get weird quick. Robotman and Elasti-Woman are overtaken by psychedelic clowns and giant bugs while Negative Man searches for the source of the monsters. The Chief also sends in Chainsaw Nun to help with the fight.
Negative Man discovers Simon deep in the bunker, and uses his words and compassion to convince Simon to stop fighting and join them in their home where he can learn to use his new powers. When General Blanch goes back on his word to let the Doom Patrol leave the island with Simon, The Chief makes their first appearance. But it’s not the Niles Caulder we’re all used to – The Chief is actually one of Crazy Jane’s personalities and is in charge. This story does a great job at setting the status quo for the Doom Patrol and what we can expect in their new upcoming series starting in March 2023. The artwork is fun and phrenetic and the colors really pop off the page, especially the effects for Flit’s teleportation.
The third vignette, “8 Seconds of Still Force”, introduces a brand new character, Jules Jourdain aka Circuit Breaker. It was recently announced that the character is trans and nonbinary. Jules spends their days working in a local theatre, reenacting a famous day in Badlands Station history when The Flash fought The Turtle. When the Lazarus Storms begin, however, Jules’s life changes forever. After getting caught in the rain, one of the townspeople starts randomly discharging energy bursts, and as a result Jules gains powers as well. They are able to stop time, absorb energy and redirect it using the Still Force. Jules is still struggling with how to control their powers when The Flash (Avery Ho) shows up after sensing the Still Force was being used. Artist A.L. Kaplan is very adept at representing the combatting energies. He uses green to represent the Still Force and a bright pink to represent the energy absorbed and discharged by Jules.
In the final vignette, we’re taken back to Gotham City. This time, the Chinatown section. We are introduced to another new hero in the DC Universe, Xanthe Zhou. She’s visiting a graveyard when she’s attacked by a group of vampire-like creatures called Jiangshi or Goeng-si. Xanthe has magic abilities and wields a huge sword. She is soon joined by Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) and as they’re about to make their last push against the Jiangshi, John Constantine comes out of a portal in the air. He had been tracking a trail of necromantic energy. Suddenly the ground explodes and Batgirl is dragged into the Spirit World by a Collective. Between this story which promises a follow-up in an upcoming Spirit World No. 1 and the Flatline story in Lazarus Planet: Next Evolution, it’s wonderful to see DC embracing the magic side of its universe, which has been lacking in representation lately.
If these Lazarus Planet one-shots have shown the readers anything, it’s that the new Dawn of DC era will be one of the most diverse in its history. Lots of new characters and underutilized old characters will be getting time to shine in the spotlight. This issue in particular had a great combination of the old and new, with excellent artwork, interesting character design, and meaningful representation.
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