Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE #75 (Final Issue)
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Colours: Matt Herms
Letters: Josh Reed
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Justice League #75: Oversize special issue! Superstar writer Joshua Williamson pens the beginning of the next big DCU event! It all starts here!
A new Dark Army made up of the DCU’s greatest villains has formed on the edges of the Multiverse! The DCU’s best and most powerful heroes are pulled together in an epic war to push the darkness back! But in the end, they are no match for it! That’s right, you heard it here first: the Justice League are killed by the Dark Army, with only one survivor to warn the remaining heroes of Earth about what is coming for them!
In their hype leading up to this story, DC has insisted that the story’s title, “Death of the Justice League” would be literal. So, it’s not really much of a spoiler to say that they did indeed kill off most of the current Justice League lineup. We do indeed see most of the eleven Leaguers present die in the pages of this final issue of the series. Like DC’s advance hype says, only one survivor returns to tell the tale. However, there is one (or perhaps two) hero who appears to survive, but isn’t returned to Earth.
The immediate reaction of many readers will be to state that this is only a stunt and that the heroes either will be back before long. As for this story being a stunt, that’s a given. It’s the kickoff to DC’s latest major crossover event. These events are stunts by their very nature. The question is not whether this is a stunt. The question is how well the stunt is pulled off. Will this be a well-written, interesting story. DC is a business, so they can be forgiven doing what is necessary to stay profitable, as long as they provide a worthy story in the process.
As to whether they will come back or not. Ultimately, I am certain they will. Most of the Leaguers who die here have died and returned before. Hell, Wonder Woman has just returned to the land of the living a few months ago. But DC might draw their deaths out a little. In recent months, a number of the Leaguers have been sharing their heroic identities with legacy characters. And removing the original Justice League would be a big step towards a Future like the one shown in the Future State event. However, as entertaining a story as Future State was, I don’t think that DC could sustain its sales without the classic heroes.
And there are some subtler hints. There are clear allusions to the “Death of Superman” in Superman #75. This appears to be an unlucky number for the Man of Steel. And the depiction of the actual deaths is a clear call-back to Barry Allen’s death in Crisis on Infinite Earths #8. In both cases, those heroes were resurrected. But where Superman returned after seven months, Barry’s return took 23 years. How long will it take the League to return?
Following the “Death of Superman” storyline, DC put the Superman titles on hiatus just long enough that there was no solicitations for the next issues, giving the appearance that the titles had indeed been ended permanently. I believe DC may reuse this trick, and in a few months, we’ll see a solicitation for either Justice League #76 or a new #1.
I do think it’s significant that while DC has insisted that the deaths are real, they haven’t said much to imply that the characters will remain dead long term. So, overall I’m certain that the classic League members will return, but we will just have to wait and see.
Much like Superman #75. There isn’t a whole lot of story in this issue. Infinite Frontier and Justice League Incarnate did the work of telling the build up to this story. This allows the Justice League to jump right into the action with only a small amount of setup at the issue’s start. Thus, most of the issue is taken up with the actual battle against Pariah and his Army of Darkness. This isn’t bad thing, as concentrating on this major battle allows this Dark Crisis prelude to start with an explosive encounter that will set off a chain of events driving the main story.
The story ends with the sole survivor’s literally explosive return to the Hall of Justice. The final page shows three heroes arriving in time to hear the survivor state, “The Justice League are dead”. I have a feeling that this particular quartet is not random and that these four heroes will. These four represent a significant portion of DC history, from the Golden Age up to the present. Also, two of them are legacy characters. And one of them is a Flash. And Flashes frequently play a central role in DC’s various Crises.
The artwork by Rafa Sandoval and Jordi Tarragona, aided by Matt Herms’ colours is absolutely gorgeous. For a monumental story like this, everything needs to look its absolute best, and the artistic team has admirably achieved that goal. The action is brilliantly depicted. And the Justice League members look their iconic best for their apparently final battle.
One thing DC didn’t mention in their hype leading up to Justice League #75 is that there is more than one Justice League that meets their end in this issue. The members of Justice League Incarnate die alongside their allies as well. I am more hesitant to declare that they will eventually return. While they are all interesting characters, the Multiverse would be mostly unaffected by their deaths. However, it doesn’t strike me as likely that DC would leave the original Mary Marvel and President Superman dead. But it’s not impossible.
But I will never forgive Joshua Williamson if this is the end of Captain Carrot’s story. I have a special place in my heart for this character. When I first started collecting comics, Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew was the first title I was able to collect from its first issue. I am always happy when he makes an appearance in a DC title, so I’ve been happy to see him involved in the build-up to Dark Crisis. But I didn’t realize it was leading to this. Please DC, don’t let this be the end of Captain Carrot’s story.
Well, Justice League #75 certainly started off Joshua Williamson’s Dark Crisis with a bang. I can’t think of a more effective way to catch the attention of readers than killing off the DCU’s biggest legends in one fell swoop. And by taking them off the board, it provides an opportunity for other characters to come to forefront. And by starting his story with such a bold move, Williamson is showing readers that he’s not messing around. This is going to be a story of true import.