Review – Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Infinite Crisis: Beetle’s Fall

Dark Multiverse: Infinite Crisis #1
Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Infinite Crisis #1 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Infinite Crisis #1 – James Tynion IV, Writer; Aaron Lopresti, Penciller; Matt Ryan, Inker; Romulo Fajardo Jr, Colorist

Ratings:

Ray – 9/10

Corrina: Hmm…..seems to be a message here for fans….

Ray: Tales from the Dark Multivers: Inifinite Crisis #1, the fourth of these Dark Multiverse one-shots, takes a different approach from the others in the series. Instead of going full-on into end-of-the-world scenarios, James Tynion and Aaron Lopresti stick with the more espionage-themed elements of the early Infinite Crisis stories and deliver a slow-burn story that turns one of the DCU’s most unlikely heroes into a far deadlier villain.

Picking the death of Blue Beetle as its divergence point, the issue begins with Ted Kord agreeing to join Max Lord in Checkmate – only to take advantage of a moment of weakness and shoot the villain instead. I’m not sure if it’s in character that Ted would kill a villain, but it’s certainly a more justified and logical kill than some of the ones we’ve seen in this run. Ted then takes over Checkmate with the help of Sasha Bordeaux and the best of intentions – at first. He uses the global reach of the organization to stop one crisis after another, but becomes more dependent on Brother Eye, who is always manipulating him to be more ruthless. This issue spends a lot more time on the character before the heel turn, which is why it’s the best of them.

Things take a dark turn when the major players of Infinite Crisis enter the fray and Ted winds up pulled into Alexander Luthor and Superboy Prime’s plot to co-opt the surviving world for their own purposes. The interesting thing about Ted in this story is that he never quite goes “Evil”, the way Lois Lane or Azrael did. His sin is always that he thinks he can control things he can’t, that he can use evil for good.

It’s a tragic balancing act that is always destined to blow up in his face. The other heroes have interesting roles, especially Ted’s longtime confidante Booster Gold. The tragic ending is predictable – they all are in this series of doomed universe stories – but it hits a lot of surprisingly good emotional beats and actually makes you invested and dreading the fall of one of the DCU’s underdog heroes. The biggest problem in the issue is that it relies a little too heavily on Superboy Prime, who has never been a particularly good character. But Infinite Crisis was one of the most complex and dense DC events, leaving it with many great choices for twists and divergences. I think Tynion and Lopresti found a good one.

Dark Multiverse: Infinite Crisis #1
Standoff. Via DC Comics.

Corrina: I had the exact opposite reaction to this story. It many ways, it seems to be trolling DC readers who were dissatisfied with the original Infinite Crisis, especially how it began with Blue Beetle’s brains being graphically blown out by Max Lord.

Some readers, especially fans of Ted Kord, were upset at his graphic death. Others perhaps shared my view that DC once again treaded into “adult” territory by going for death and gore without truly handling these deaths in an adult manner. For me, Infinite Crisis has Silver Age concepts and horror-style gore and death, an odd mix that never truly explores the trauma it created for its characters, especially since it slaughtered some teen heroes alongside hand-waving changes in the universe with Superboy Prime’s Retcon Punch. It was never a good tonal mix.

Tales from the Dark Universe: Infinite Crisis #1 seems to be DC saying “hey, look, we got criticism for it being too dark but, see, it could have been worse!”

For me, the original and this alternate take seemed stepped in the cynical use of gore and death for shock value.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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