"DC Universe Legacies" hits the halfway point of its 10-issue run this month, which seems the perfect place for "Crisis on Infinite Earths" to rear its head in this massive retelling of the DC Universe's timeline. Even though other mini-series (most notably "Zero Hour" and "Infinite Crisis") have rewritten the fictional history of the world, this was the first, big one to attempt it on such a massive scale. "Post-Crisis" is a term still used among comic book fans to refer to an era that began some 25 years ago, so it's fitting that "DC Universe Legacies" #5 is the strongest issue of the comic to date.
"DC Universe Legacies" #5 isn't entirely about "Crisis on Infinite Earths." Len Wein touches on a number of events from the '80s, from the darkening of characters like the Joker, Spectre and Green Arrow, to the resurgence and arrivals of teams and characters like the Teen Titans, Outsiders, and Firestorm. It's a progression that feels much smoother than some previous issues, perhaps because it was a point where the behind the scenes was becoming more cohesive and thoughts were being made towards the entire line of books rather than each title operating in somewhat of a vacuum.
Perhaps more importantly, viewpoint character Paul Lincoln has taken a bit more of a backseat here; he and his family still appear, but they don't feel quite as obtrusive. Most of them are still thoroughly unremarkable characters (although I appreciate that so far Wein has taken the story of Paul's brother-in-law Jimmy down a more interesting road than the most obvious one provided earlier), and it's hard to believe that Paul would pipe up with clunky dialogue like, "That white light—! It's like it's eating at the edges of reality!" By minimizing their roles, though, they don't stand out quite so badly.
George Perez and Scott Koblish handle the art for the main feature this month, and it's beautiful as always. Even without being given crazy, over-the-top crowd scenes to draw, Perez's trademark jam-packed panels are on display here. What could have been a simple scene of some Teen Titans fighting aliens becomes a careful assemblage of characters, and of course the heroes in Metropolis during Crisis come across great. From the little swirls of air following Red Tornado to Metamorpho in the background holding up a building, there's a lot of energy and detail hand in hand and it's nice to see Perez drawing these characters again.
There's a backup story drawn by Walter Simonson this month involving outer space characters Adam Strange and Tommy Tomorrow, and while the plot itself is unfortunately fairly dull, getting pages drawn by Simonson is a real treat. They're simultaneously blocky and dynamic, and I appreciate that long-time Simonson collaborator John Workman came on board as letterer. By the end of the story you'll probably just be looking at the pictures more than anything else, but with visuals this great that's an acceptable way to spend your time.
"DC Universe Legacies" #5 may not be the most exciting book published this past week, but it is probably one of the prettiest. And with an improving script, it offers up some hope for the second half of the mini-series. If nothing else, it's nice to see DC Comics' big artistic guns all getting some work. Now if Paul Lincoln and company could just stay in the background for the second half, I think we'll be set.