Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths has been a truly massive crossover event, pitting the heroes of the DC Universe — minus the believed dead Justice League — against nearly every notable villain at once. But while the architect of the event has been dealt with, he’s been replaced by a far more lethal enemy.
Issue #6 (by Joshua Williamson, Daniel Sampere, Rafa Sandoval, Alejandro Sanchez, and Troy Peteri) takes a major swerve by bringing down Pariah, seemingly once and for all — only to reveal Deathstroke is the story’s true final threat, elevating the assassin to a multiversal level.
Dark Crisis Introduced a Powerful New Threat to DC’s Heroes
The events of Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths have largely been spearheaded by Pariah. A major player in the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, Pariah’s apparent corruption by the Great Darkness saw him set in motion a plan to remake the multiverse. But as the heroes of Earth have discovered, it was actually the Great Darkness who was corrupted by Pariah, his attempts to “fix” the mistakes of the previous Crisis spiraling into chaos for every reality within the DC Multiverse. Since then, Pariah has served as the primary antagonist of the event — even if it’s his servants in the Dark Army (like Deathstroke, Doomsday, and Darkseid) who’ve been on the principal players on the battlefield.
But Dark Crisis #6 elevates the chaos, with the heroes doing their best to hold the line against the Dark Army. Thanks to the new Wonder Girl Yara Flor and her Lasso of Truth, Pariah is forced to confront the reality of the situation — learning the voice dictating his actions isn’t the Great Darkness, but came from within. Furious at the discovery, Pariah is distracted long enough for Mister Terrific and Batman to rewire an Anti-Matter device against Pariah — trapping him in his own apparent dream reality where he can be reunited with his family. This doesn’t resolve the threat — as the dark energy that had been fueling Pariah is revealed to have found a new home within Deathstroke. Transforming Slade Wilson into a hulking version of himself, Deathstroke quickly announces his intention to kill everyone he can get his hands on — seemingly starting with Nightwing and his own daughter, Ravager.
Dark Crisis Transformed Deathstroke Into a Multiversal Threat
Deathstroke’s elevation to Dark Crisis on Infinite Earth’s has been seeded throughout the crossover, with Deathstroke taking a surprisingly large role in the cosmic conflict despite his largely grounded role in the DC Universe. Resurrected at the conclusion of “Shadow War” with the apparent Dark Army energy surrounding him, Deathstroke was given a “contract” to complete by destroying the hero community. Unlike the rest of the Dark Army — who have retained little of their actual free will — Deathstroke seems to be completely present for the event, setting up his deeply personal fight against Nightwing and the Titans. Deathstroke absorbing the corrupted energy elevates the nominally human mercenary to a level where he could actually endanger the likes of Superman and the rest of the Justice League.
It’s also admittedly a big villainous step for the character. While Deathstroke was introduced as a villain and has never been fully heroic, layers of morality have been teased out of the legendary mercenary. In the Post-Crisis DC Universe, Deathstroke even had his own solo series that quietly positioned him as something of an anti-hero. But this latest development seems to cofidy the idea that at the end of the day, Deathstroke is truly a villain and one who holds a grudge. Given his experience and combat skills, this amplified version of the Terminator could prove even more dangerous than anyone else in the Dark Army — and fully elevates the Teen Titan’s greatest enemy into a cosmic-level threat.