Who's going to save the DC Multiverse from destruction? The Titans, who are taking over as top DC Team? The semi-returned Justice League? Paul McCartney? Truth is, it'll take all of DC's heroes working together (well, maybe not McCartney) to stop the Great Darkness and halt the Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths, though some heroes will definitely deserve more credit than others. And the names of the folks toward the top of that list may surprise you.
Spoilers ahead for Dark Crisis: The Dark Army #1...
Dark Crisis: The Dark Army is written by Mark Waid, Delilah S. Dawson, and Dennis Culver, penciled by Jack Herbert and Freddie E. Williams II, colored by Adriano Lucas, and lettered by Troy Petteri. The one-shot sees Damian Wayne leading a rag-tag band of heroes across worlds in a hackneyed plan to break the hold the Great Darkness has on the Dark Army.
Luckily for Damian (and the entirety of the DCU's existence), he's picked the right team.
In particular, there are two heroes whose inclusion is essential to Robin's reality-hopping rescuers. The first is a recent addition to the DC Multiverse and, as a matter of fact, the reason that Multiverse travel is even possible for the crew.
Sideways, AKA Derek James, was created by Dan DiDio and Kenneth Rocafort as part of a short-lived new line of DC heroes. Sideways's superpower is to create "rifts" in spacetime that allow himself and others to travel not only to different locations in the same reality but to other realities altogether.
Derek's been using his powers frequently in the battle against Pariah, such as in Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #5, in which he helps save Black Adam from the Darkness-controlled Legion of Doom. In the Dark Army one-shot, Sideways uses his to transport Robin's small group to several locations familiar to DC fans.(opens in new tab)
The first location, known as Earth-53, springs from the events of Dark Knights Metal: The Wild Hunt by Grant Morrison, Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, and Joshua Williamson. Earth-53 is a futuristic universe of intelligent primates, some of which have counterparts in the main DCU. On Earth-53, Robin locates a power source potentially capable of freeing the Dark Army, but the heroes are chased away from that reality by Darkness-powered shadow demons.
It's on to a different reality then, or rather, a place between realities, as Sideways and the gang head to the ruined House of Heroes, located in the Bleed. The HoH is the former watchtower of the Monitor and, as it turns out, an integral place in the history of the second spotlighted C-lister in this comic.
Doctor Light (secret identity Kimiyo Hoshi) was created by George Perez and Marv Wolfman, first appearing in Crisis on Infinite Earths #4 at a pivotal moment during DC's OG Crisis Crossover event. Granted photonic powers by the Monitor himself, Doctor Light is the embodiment of light and, fortunately for our heroes, the polar opposite of the Great Darkness.
Robin reactivates the advanced AI onboard, known as Harbinger. The heroes seem to have made progress… and then everything goes wrong. Harbinger demands to be shut down immediately, as a great threat is on its way. Sideways suggests the team run, but it's too late: The Justice League Incarnate has arrived.
That's right, the Justice League Incarnate has survived the events of Justice League #75! Normally, that would be a good thing, but there's a pretty huge catch. Like the Dark Army itself, the formerly heroic multiversal team (created by Grant Morrison) has been wrapped in the chains of the Great Darkness, binding them to its will.
The mind-controlled JLI heads toward the House's Orrery, a kind of multiversal beacon that, if corrupted, will send the Great Darkness out across all possible realities, warping all minds the same way it warped the minds of the JLI. Seriously outgunned by their foes, Robin's team is as good as doomed, cursed to watch as darkness engulfs all of the DC Multiverse…
Unless the Light can stop it.
Remembering the mechanics of the machine that created her, Doctor Light heads for the Orrery. If she can break into it, if she can become the thing that colors the beacon across realities, then maybe, just maybe, the Darkness's chains may be broken. Doctor Light speeds toward the Orrery as the rest of the crew try in vain to hold back the Dark JLI. She blasts the Orrery's shield with every ounce of her power and…
Breaks in! Light streams across the House of Heroes, obliterating shadow demons and breaking the chains of the Justice League Incarnate. The power is not enough to leak to all realities, but it's enough to let Damian’s team live to fight another day, and welcome the JLI back into the fight against the Great Darkness.(opens in new tab)
But the issue isn't over for Doctor Light. Having accessed the purest source of light in the Multiverse, Doctor Light becomes more powerful than ever. Her costume changes to a suit of armor, but more important than what’s going on outside is what's going on in her brain.
Doctor Light is now connected to the light that shines across Multiverses, and with it, she can gaze into the lives of other light-wielders across time, space, and reality. She rejoins the team, ready to travel back to take on the Great Darkness (thanks to the combined powers of Sideways and JLI member Doctor Multiverse), but not before a curious thing happens.
As part of her powers, Doctor Multiverse can look at one person and see all their permutations across realities. She takes a look at the many warrior personas of Power Girl, the mysterious alternate lives of Red Canary, the futuristic version of Doctor Light, and the inhuman iterations of Sideways, but when she gets to Damian, she pauses. Every conceivable reality is headed in one direction for Damian - into a Batsuit.
She tells Damian he was a "uniquely consistent" path ahead of him, but that isn't relevant to the task at hand, which likely means it's foreshadowing a future Damian Waybe story arc and won't factor into the remainder of Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths.(opens in new tab)
So what this means for the future is impossible to say right now, but it might have something to do with the events of Batman Vs. Robin, the event limited written by Waid, drawn by Mahmud Asrar, colored by Jordie Bellaire, and lettered by Steve Wands in which Damian is appearing in the Bat-costume as we speak. But for now, Robin's on his way back to meet a different destiny in the battle for the Multiverse.
A destiny that he, and the rest of DC’s main heroes, might not have seen had it not been for two C-listers.
As you may have noticed, DC's Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths owes a lot to the first Crisis. The creators aren't shy about it, by the way; check out what they say about the OG event here.