’90s fans rejoice! April 2022 paves the way to revisiting the era of DC Comics where the Teen Titans were the #1 book on the shelf; where Barry Allen had vanished in a crisis; and where Superman had been slain by Doomsday. Thirty years ago, the world lost the Man of Steel in Superman #75, and when ten Justice League members depart to face an ominous “Dark Army” in the anniversary-issue Justice League #75, only one will survive. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, John Stewart’s Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Hawkgirl, Zatanna, Green Arrow, and Black Canary. Some would argue that these are the biggest names in the DC Universe… in the Justice League’s extensive roster. Surely none of these characters would be killed off, right? Right?!
The third act in an event that kicked off with last year’s Infinite Frontier #0, Joshua Williamson and Daniel Sampere’s Dark Crisis teases to resurrect components from every major DC Comics event since 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths. Pariah, a survivor of a decimated universe doomed to witness the destruction of every Earth in the multiverse, has discovered a means of restoring his universe through the Great Darkness; a void at the beginning of time. To do this, however, he must destroy the main Earth in DCU Continuity, Earth 0, and he has assembled the biggest bads throughout history to form his Dark Army; Doomsday, Ares, Darkseid, The Empty Hand, Eclipso, Nekron, and Deathstroke. In the prelude to this comic event, the Justice League will go up against this army, and they will lose.
In the Justice Leagues’ absence, DC’s legacy heroes will be plunged into the forefront. When Earth’s greatest heroes meet their end, the rest of the hero community will look to Nightwing, the man who was destined to lead the Justice League way back in the New 52 Justice League series. Joshua Williamson has stated just how pivotal Nightwing is to this event, and with various promotional artworks showcasing different iterations of legacy characters, we can expect a major focus on the Titans, Teen Titans, and Young Justice teams respectively.
To further excite fans for these legacy characters, a collection of miniseries following the younger generation are set to be launched alongside this event, including Young Justice, where Tim Drake, Connor Kent and Bart Allen go missing during the funeral, and only Cassie Sandsmark’s Wonder Girl notices; and Dark Crisis, which will seemingly follow Nightwing, Wally West, Jon Kent and Jackson Hyde establishing a new safety network for the Earth in the Justice League’s place. Though few details have been revealed about the 7-issue Dark Crisis miniseries, it can be expected that the grief of these heroes is properly explored, alongside the tremendous weight of upholding the standard set by the Justice League.
And speaking of missing heroes… in the wake of the Justice League’s death, Wally West desperately assembles the entire Flash Family to find the absent Barry Allen. To avoid misplacing him in the speed force like in the 1985 Crisis, Wally, Wallace, Jay and as many other speedsters as you can imagine will hunt to find Barry, that is, if he wants to be found.
Dark Crisis promises to be an emotionally-heavy coming-of-age story, which will not only showcase these legacy characters stepping into the boots of their mentors but will also highlight just how important the Justice League was to the entire heroic community. Not just as a superteam that has saved the world countless times, but as individuals, and will focus on the relationships that they had with every member of the DC Universe.
While this event will exist within continuity, it will occur “shortly in the future” of the current timeline. This will allow all other titles featuring the deceased heroes to continue, whilst allowing opportunities for other heroes previously overshadowed by the members of the League’s A Team. This will also allow the return of heroes from DC’s Future State, with characters like Jon Kent’s Superman, Yara Flor’s Wonder Woman, and Jace Fox’s Batman featured prominently on the teaser artwork.
But before we reach the Dark Crisis in June, the Justice League will face their unfortunate ends in April. As previously mentioned, DC has been building to this story since 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths. However, to catch up on the most recent and arguably more relevant storylines to prepare for this event, we’ve compiled a list of series and why they are important below.
Dark Nights: Death Metal (7 Issues)
Dark Nights: Death Metal is a multiversal-spanning event where the Batman Who Laughs enlists Perpetua, the first creator of the multiverse, to destroy every reality so that the pair can remake the multiverse in their respective images. This saga set out to refine the history of the DC Universe, and established a sense of continuity that exists today, where everything that has ever been published both is and is not canon. Sounds confusing, but Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and a series of creatives throughout various tie-in books have successfully culminated the entirety of the DC Universe in a jaw-dropping event. And, to top it all off, the events of this book lead directly into…
Infinite Frontier (8 Issues)
After establishing the new DC Omniverse in Death Metal, Infinite Frontier hones in on exactly what has changed throughout DC history, whilst looking forward to various futures within continuity. The multiverse is now common knowledge to the public on Earth 0, which has spooked the more skeptical minds, from Amanda Waller to Director Bones.
Alongside a further exploration as to the current status of the DC universe, this event brings back some previously deceased heroes, reintroduces the Justice Incarnate as the protectors of the multiverse, and teases what’s to come in Dark Crisis, showcasing the once-ally Pariah testing his Dark Army against Barry Allen.
Justice League Incarnate (5 Issues)
When members of Pariah’s Dark Army begin to threaten the universe, the only thing that stands between the destruction of the omniverse is the Justice League Incarnate! The events of Death Metal and Infinite Frontier set the stage, but Justice League Incarnate acts as a prelude to both Justice League #75 and Dark Crisis, establishing just how powerful of a threat these villains are.
Honourable mentions to this list include The Flash, which showcases Wally West as the Flash, Nightwing, which is already juggling with the theme of legacy better than any other book right now, and Robin, which is also written by Joshua Williamson, and is promised to lead directly into Dark Crisis.
Though it is unlikely that the Justice League will stay dead forever, Williamson has promised that the implications of Justice League’s 75th issue will be felt for a longer period than three months (which was roughly the amount of time that Superman was out of circulation after the Death of Superman event).
Ten heroes will depart, and one will return. The cover of Justice League #75 demonstrates coffins for Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and Aquaman, which suggests that one of the remaining five will survive. How would Oliver Queen react to being the lone survivor of yet another major disaster? Could the Martian Manhunter go on being the only remnant of yet another family?
In what promises to be the biggest DC event in recent memory, The Death of the Justice League in Justice League #75 is released April 19 before Dark Crisis #0 on Free Comic Book Day on May 7. Justice League: Road to Dark Crisis #1 will be available May 31, with the main event kicking off in Dark Crisis #1 in June 2022. With so much is stake, there is a lot of unknown. But speaking through Pariah from Crisis on Infinite Earths: “Worlds will live, worlds will die, and the universe will never be the same.”