Joe Meola ‘25 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
This year marks the 30th anniversary of DC Comics’s iconic “Death of Superman” story in 1992’s Superman #75, and DC is celebrating with a bang, as the publisher has announced it will be killing off all but one member of its current Justice League roster in April 19th’s Justice League #75.
DC made the announcement on January 19, alongside the announcement that writer Joshua Williamson—known for his work on The Flash (2016-2020) and his recently-concluded Infinite Frontier mini-series—would be taking over writing duties for this important issue. In the issue, which will be drawn by artist Rafa Sandaval, the Justice League–consisting of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Green Lantern (John Stewart), Hawkgirl, Martian Manhunter, and Zatanna, will face off against a new foe known as the Dark Army.
This announcement left fans with many questions. Which one Leaguer will survive this fatal encounter? And who will replace the fallen? Luckily, DC provided some insight on February 9th when the company announced its next big event coming after this surprising end to the Justice League. On May 31st, DC will begin its Dark Crisis event, also penned by Williamson, which will see the remaining heroes of the DC Universe facing off against the threat of Pariah—who originates from DC’s original Crisis on Infinite Earths”—and save the lost Justice League. Promotional images for the upcoming event, in addition to DC’s comics of the past several months, serve as indicators for who will be assuming the mantles of the previous generation.
The easiest role to discuss here is that of Superman. Jonathan Kent has been set up as the unchallenged successor to the Superman mantle ever since the launch of his solo series Superman: Son of Kal-El in July of 2021, and he is already becoming the primary Superman of Earth. Clark Kent, Jon’s father, isn’t dead (yet?), but Jon is already making his mark as the new Superman, squaring off not just against supervillains but also social issues such as a refugee crisis and climate change. As a result of Jon’s obvious role in the future of the DCU, though, it is almost a guarantee that his father will be among the casualties in the fight against the Dark Army.
Another easy point of discussion is Aquaman. Jackson Hyde—aka Aqualad—has already taken up the mantle of Aquaman following his limited series Aquaman: The Becoming, and he now shares the role with Arthur Curry in the Aquamen series. Jackson also had the opportunity to work alongside new Superman Jon Kent in Son of Kal-El #7-8, so the two could make a solid duo for a future Justice League roster.
Wonder Woman is also another fairly easy role to cover, as DC has been building up the new character of Yara Flor to assume the role. In fact, she is pictured alongside Jon and other heroes in promotional material for Dark Crisis. Also pictured alongside them is Jace Fox, who is poised to replace Bruce Wayne as Batman. Green Lantern is a potentially complicated role. If John Stewart dies, there are already a plethora of other Earth-based Green Lanterns that could take his place. However, the most likely addition to the Justice League is probably the new Green Lantern Jo Mullein.
Green Arrow, Black Canary, Hawkgirl, and Zatanna are characters whose identities do not have much legacy affiliated with them. While some of these alter-egos have been utilized by other characters, and while, if they die, their shoes may be filled by new faces, they are not quite as essential to the League as characters noted above. That’s not to say, though, that there isn’t enough room for other young heroes to join the League.
Of course, it’s almost guaranteed that Dick Grayson, aka Nightwing, will be involved. Not only is he perhaps the most important legacy character in DC’s library—having been the first costumed sidekick in comics history and having a close relationship with Superman in addition to being mentored by Batman—but he is currently being set up to serve as a guiding force for the next generation of DC superheroes. He is helping to train new young heroes in Teen Titans Academy, and also beginning to serve as a mentor of sorts to Jon Kent, upon the request of Superman himself in the current Nightwing series. Alongside Grayson, another likely guiding force in Dark Crisis and beyond is Wally West. Having been the main Flash for several years once before, Wally has served as a member of the Justice League on several occasions, and is also best friends with Dick Grayson and more recently is seemingly starting to become a close ally with Jon Kent. West would be a phenomenal addition to the potential new roster of the Justice League.
Which Leaguer will survive, though? To create shock value and add importance to specific legacy heroes, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Green Lantern will probably fall in battle. Not enough fans care about the current version of Hawkgirl, so she too will probably die. That leaves Green Arrow, Martian Manhunter, Black Canary, and Zatanna. Which could it be? Green Arrow has several potential replacements, especially his son Connor Hawke, so it would not come as a surprise if he is among the casualties of the League’s fight with the Dark Army. Manhunter, Canary and Zatanna have equal potential of making for an interesting and emotional story if either of them is the sole survivor, and they have an equal chance of being that survivor.
Now for the big question: Will the Justice League ever return?
It seems like Dark Crisis is meant for the younger generation of heroes to eventually save their fallen comrades so that they can all unite for a final fight against Pariah. Even if that somehow ends up not being the case, in superhero comics, especially nowadays, characters rarely stay dead, and that will certainly be the case for the Justice League. That was the case for Superman, after all, whose “death” DC is commemorating with this series in the first place.