Review by Ian Keogh
Battle Cry was the final Earth 2 content written by James Robinson, so The Dark Age introduces Tom Taylor to continue what was a long term plan on Robinson’s part. The strange aspect is, that as seen on the cover, the primary threat is the return of the long-missing Superman, no longer Earth’s protector, but a grave danger. It’s very similar to the territory Taylor mined to good effect in Injustice: Gods Among Us. That Superman still possessed reason, while this one is a loose cannon of devastation spouting slogans praising Darkseid and Apokalips. More furtively, Batman’s also returned, and while apparently on the side of the angels, he’s also different, with no aversion to using guns for starters.
Taylor builds well on what Robinson established, feeding from his clues left of mysteries to come. In some cases the result may have been what Robinson intended, but in others Taylor immediately establishes his own ideas, the introduction and purpose of Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen for instance, and ramps up from small plots feeding a bigger picture to the main event. To some extent it re-runs the threat from immediately before Earth 2 began, hordes of Apokaliptian Parademons again emerging to threaten Earth, but this time with Superman leading them. Having established that, Taylor concentrates on what can possibly be done, and Batman’s integral to that.
Nicola Scott is the primary artist (sample spread), and excellent as always, but Robson Rocha, then Barry Kitson also deliver the horrendous spectacle, all artists filling the pages with hundreds of Parademons and the resulting destruction. Rocha draws the story in which Batman’s identity is revealed, and it’s unlikely anyone will second guess Taylor on that, yet he doesn’t stray from the familiar Batman legend, taking the opportunity of an alternate world to offer a viable alternate idea. It’s smart.
In concentrating on new characters, some that Robinson followed closely seem to have been sidelined. Terry Sloan may have a later part to play, and what others have to say about him is fascinating, but he’s barely seen, and also a loss is Amar Khan, head of the World Security Forces. He’s a casualty of Taylor shifting focus from a global organisation to independent resistance, but he’s back next time. Taylor’s approach differs from Robinson, but is also thrilling, and continued in The Kryptonian. That’s not who you assume.