Well, if they wanted to ensure I didn’t buy a new DC comic, they’re doing a bang-up job. I would like to get all the stuff with pre-aged Jon Kent but otherwise I’m not seeing what I love in the DC universe anymore. There’s a host of reasons I have a Death Of DC category…and here’s a new one. Apparently originality is dead as well.
The Death of the Justice League is only the beginning of the story. Superstar writer Joshua Williamson (BATMAN) and artist Rafa Sandoval (THE FLASH) bring you the beginning of the next big DCU event starting in JUSTICE LEAGUE #75, available at local comic book shops and participating digital retailers on April 19!
“We’ve been building to the Death of the Justice League for the last year across the main line,” said Williamson. “I remember buying DEATH OF SUPERMAN 30 years ago and now we have an opportunity to take that idea and go bigger with it. JUSTICE LEAGUE 75 allows us to showcase why the Justice League are comics’ greatest heroes as we show the aftermath of the loss against their biggest threat ever and its impact on the DCU.”
You still don’t get it, do you?
Apparently the plot centers around the villains of the DC universe bringing the Justice League to the ends of the multiverse, whatever that means as I’m not even sure what the multiverse is DC-side anymore. And the villains win. Again. Heroes will die and will only come back if WarnerMedia or Discovery Networks or whoever owns DC Comics right now insists on it. One hero is supposed to survive the attack by this “Dark Army” (heck, just call them the Legion Of Doom…I will) to warn everyone what’s coming. Kind of like “Bendis is coming” was a warning to Superman fans their favorite series was over, especially if they liked pre-teen Jon Kent, Clark having a secret identity so he can do good as himself and have some kind of normal life, and being happily married to Lois.
So who’s going to die? According to the teaser image (click the image on the left for full-size) we have Aquaman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (supposedly John Stewart, which is a confusing choice given the representation crowd–maybe because he’s former military), and of course Superman because only Optimus Prime has died and come back more times in the multiverse than Kal-El at this point. Other images point to Martian Manhunter, Black Canary, Green Arrow, and the Flash as well as Hawkgirl and Zatanna being involved but only J’onn, Barry, and Hawkgirl join the coffined heroes in a memorial statue. They even made a big deal about this final issue of Justice League being issue #75, the same issue number of Superman where Doomsday killed Superman. Entertainment Weekly noticed it in their story on it, because of course DC loves to be in the press.
DC loves to homage anniversaries like this (such as when they published the 2005 crossover event Infinite Crisis timed to the 20th anniversary of Crisis on Infinite Earths) and they’re saluting 30 years of “The Death of Superman” in style. Over on The CW, Superman & Lois is hinting at the imminent arrival of Doomsday. And in the pages of DC Comics, an even bigger threat is bearing down on the Justice League.
It’s very serious,” writer Joshua Williamson tells EW. “It’s an interesting opportunity to do this on the 30th anniversary of ‘The Death of Superman,’ which happened in Superman #75. We get to take Justice League #75 and do ‘Death of the Justice League.’ We want people to understand, this is serious and this is gonna have a major impact in the DCU moving forward.”
Williamson continues, “I remember the experience of reading the build-up to ‘The Death of Superman’ and then waiting in the rain for my copy of issue #75. I think one reason that story was so powerful was that after the ‘Funeral for a Friend’ story, there were no Superman comics for three months. That’s part of what led us to make the decision that this is the last issue of Justice League. But then three months later, there’s still not gonna be a Justice League comic. It’s gonna be a while, and that’s gonna be a major part of what the DCU looks like after this story: There is no Justice League.”
No, what made the story powerful was the writers caring about Superman and coming with good characters who were supposed to be additions rather than replacements. The other difference here is that the story hadn’t been told before. It was written by people who cared about Superman’s legacy (at least post-Crisis) and found a unique way to explore it after being forced to wait on the Clark/Lois marriage by Warner Brothers to make the showrunners of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman happy because of course the TV show is more important to them than those silly comics we keep printing to keep the IP going for the media we really care about and the merchandising. The idea used to be a joke until they had nowhere else to turn with four different Superman titles that were parts of the same storyline from different angles and writers. They were treading new ground and their goal was to tell a good story.
Now maybe Joshua Williamson is a good writer but this is a story that feels like treading old ground. Superman has died, Batman has died, Wonder Woman just recovered from being dead last year but I guess she’s getting a relapse. Comic books, where death is just a bad cold so long as your character has enough fans. I don’t see The Protector coming back from the dead anytime soon. I’m curious if Alfred will stay dead or come back as an amnesiac supervillain like he did once the gay heat was off Batman and Robin in the Silver Age?
There are two ways this could be going but in either case I wouldn’t be surprised if the current crop of writers would love to make this permanent. Of course shock value is a factor here, as they need to write the big epic stories, which leads into the first problem: ego. Every writer wants “that story”, the one that grants them all the fame, interviews years later, and is something everyone talks about, just like the comics that inspired them. They weren’t inspired by a series or particular writer, they were inspired by graphic novels or events and the praise and press they got and still get. It’s why so many comics, especially in modern DC, keep trying to be Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, or even Kingdom Come. They see “darker, gritter deconstruction of the superhero genre” and write only that, even though the tropes they keep deconstructing aren’t in use any more because they’re too busy deconstructing to reconstruct and move on. Dan DiDio wanted his own Crisis and never stopped ordering them. It’s all events, writing for the trade, and darker deconstructions these days, because they want that big universe-altering event that they can look back on and say “I did something huge” rather than simply continue the universe. That’s why they’re running out of ideas, because they keep doing epic stories rather than good stories.
The other way this could go is this becomes the new DC Universe as they want because they’ve been trying to get rid of the classic versions for a while now. DiDio may have wanted the Flash and Green Lantern he knew back because he hates legacy characters (and yet Barry Allen and Hal Jordan ARE legacy characters) but the writers now hate the classic characters. They can’t remake those characters into their own image and really hate continuity. They don’t like tried and true, heroic aspirations. If they aren’t writing villains they’re finding ways to make the heroes morally questionable and an outlet for their anger, a sort of catharsis whether it’s political or personal. They can’t make Clark Kent the way they want…but here comes Jon Kent. Trying to make Diana into girl Kratos received backlash, but nobody cares about Nubia or Yara Flor, so we can do what we want with these characters. They don’t care about the originals, who have lasted since before their grandparents were alive and after generations of writers before them found ways to continue their stories, and they have no love for continuity because they’re more interested in their stories than continuing stories they have no ties to. Future State was supposed to be the new DC universe, or that’s how they were acting, and there was backlash. Those plans were scrapped, even though the Superman comics just redid that story anyway with Clark and Jon, because of fan backlash and I still believe they see their stories as being more important than the legacies that kept these characters around for them to tell stories with. It’s all marketing and resumes to them.
Symbolism, treading old ground, wanting to redo the stories they read, and replacing beloved characters with original characters is not going to surpass these characters and the reasons DC fans love them. There is a reason “Superman”, “Batman”, and “Wonder Woman” invoke love in fans when you say their names. You can create original characters to build out the universe, but not to replace. It takes finding new stories to tell, or at least new ways to tell those stories depending on who you listen to about whether or not “every story has already been told”, which is nonsense. I don’t think they can do with the Justice League what “death and return of Superman” did for the Man Of Steel because they don’t have the same attachments, the same connection, the same love of the legacy of the characters versus a particular story. And why do you have to kill them to explore how the heroes cope? Trap them in another universe or other kind of prison and make the story about the new heroes trying to figure out how to save them and stop the villains from whatever they’re going to do next? Do a story where the new hero is away from the old heroes and has to figure out a new villain or how to beat a more seasoned foe on their own. There have been great stories there without tossing out established heroes that some of us loved since we were kids, since back then the stories weren’t anti-kids trying to show how “mature” comics really are to the media snobs who will never care. Make more of those.
At this point I don’t know if this will be permanent or drawn out way too long because I just don’t trust this new crop of writers. Jim Lee doesn’t seem to want to stop this and for all we know he’s all on board with it, maybe hoping to give his old WildStorm characters yet another chance. There’s no concern with legacy, just cheap marketing and ego-driven goals of using famous names to tell their own stories rather than having faith in their ideas to sell them on their own. “I worked on Superman” isn’t as good on resumes when there’s an asterix showing how little you cared about the title when you got it. If you’re more interested in doing your own stories, do your own stories and leave these long standing universes to people who care more about continuing the universe rather than remaking it in your own image. Make something new without ruining something for the rest of us, and we may be interested in checking your stuff out too. Toss out the old stuff and we won’t be around to see your original stuff. Show us you care, because If you don’t care, why should we?