We are finally here. Justice League #75 and The Death of the Justice League. I posted my initial reaction to this news when it was announced back in January 2022. My position has not changed since January. I have seen nothing from DC Comics in the past few months that leads me to believe that they have an intelligent and successful plan in mind with the Death of the Justice League and Dark Crisis.
I am not going to do a synopsis for Justice League #75. You can check out Kevin’s excellent synopsis in his review for Justice League #75. My article will be more of a combination commentary on the overall Death of the Justice League creative decision by the DC Comics editorial staff and then a review of Justice League #75 as a creative product on its own two feet.
There is definitely nothing unique and inventive about the Death of the Justice League. This story smacks of being editorially mandated. The Death of the Justice League seems less of a creative effort to deliver a quality story and more of a sales stunt designed to be a quick cash grab.
Make no mistake. DC Comics is in full panic mode. DC Comics has been led down the path of irrelevancy by poor leadership, bad editorial decisions, and a complete lack of confidence in their iconic characters not named Bruce Wayne. In an act of pure desperation, DC Comics is pulling off a massive sales stunt in order to gin up mainstream media coverage and temporary sales spikes.
Justice League #75 will pop a huge sales number. Mainly due to the lemming nature of some comic book readers in addition to comic book speculators who hop all over sales stunts like the Death of the Justice League. It is all so predictable. DC Comics hopes this will lead to huge sales numbers for Dark Crisis. The question is can this roster of unpopular replacement characters fill the shoes of the iconic Justice Leaguers during Dark Crisis?
To make things even worse, DC Comics already knows that this crop of characters that they are using to replace the iconic Justice Leaguers are sales failures. Again, we do not need to take subjective opinions to arrive at this conclusion. We have numbers and numbers do not lie. Look through the single-issue comic book sales charts. December 2021, January 2022, February 2022, and March 2022. Each month and the story remains the same. Jason Fox, Yara Flor, Jon Kent, Jackson Hyde, Jo Mullein, and Naomi have all been sales failures. It is mystifying why DC editorial would think that killing off the iconic Justice Leaguers and replacing them with these sales failures would suddenly make these characters popular with readers. It won’t.
Of course, we all know that Dark Crisis is going to end with the predictable return of all of the iconic Justice League characters. DC Comics hopes this leads to another big sales number. But, since this is all so predictable it must be asked what is the point? Why should readers care? This all makes the entire Death of the Justice League and Dark Crisis such a crass cash grab and nothing more.
One risk is that this cheap sales stunt sours readers on DC Comics. Another problem is that DC Comics may lose readers who are burned out by DC Comics endlessly picking at its continuity like an infected scab that will never heal. Other readers may get worn out by the endless parade of big events that have less and less meaning as we go forward.
All of it reeks of panic and desperation. The executives and editorial staff at DC Comics are scared to death that their new corporate overlord, David Zaslov, is going to take a hatchet to DC Comics. Zaslov is going to be examining the performance and profitability of all aspects of Warner Bros. We all know, based on the sales charts, that DC Comics has been as competitive as a dead fish in their fight against Marvel Comics. So, what can DC Comics do to goose up their sales numbers at the same time that Zaslov is assuming control of the new Warner Bros. Discovery corporation? Well, you can kill off the iconic members of the Justice League and then roll right into a new Crisis event! Yay! DC Comics executives and editorial staff get to keep their jobs!
All right, enough of the commentary. Let’s now examine Justice League #75 on its own merits independent of the over-arching decisions of DC Comics leadership.
Words: Joshua Williamson
Pencils: Rafal Sandoval
Inks: Jordi Taragona
Colors: Matt Herms
Story Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10
The Good: Justice League #75 makes you wait for it. Boy, does it make you wait for it. But, you eventually will get some really cool action in the latter half of this issue. The fighting is well choreographed and is presented in a larger-than-life fashion. The massive brawl between the Justice Leaguers and Pariah’s Dark Army is badass. It feels epic like a classic heavyweight battle.
The Dark Army has an impressive roster of villains, too. Darkseid, Eclipse, Doomsday, Ares, Nekron, Neron, The Empty Hand, Spectre, Deathstroke, and Upside-Down Man. Look, even someone like me who is summarily unimpressed with Justice League #75 can admit that the Dark Army is a badass collection of DC Comics’ heaviest hitters!
I won’t lie. The unveiling of the Dark Army in Justice League #75 did put a smile on my face. I love all of these villains with the exception of the Upside-Down Man. Do I want to see this badass collection of monster heels rampaging through the DCU? Yeah…yeah, I do.
Rafal Sandoval delivers plenty of quality artwork. However, it is Sandoval’s artwork in the second half of Justice League #75 where it really shines. Sandoval draws a fantastic-looking Dark Army. Sandoval also does an excellent job delivering the action scenes. The artwork is dynamic and eye-catching as the brawling jumps off the page at the reader.
Lastly, while we did have the deaths of all of our beloved iconic Justice Leaguers in Justice League #75, we also got the deaths of the entire Justice League Incarnate. So…win?
The Bad: Justice League #75 is largely a dull read. The plotting is fine. Joshua Williamson clearly moves the story forward in a clear and methodical fashion. However, it feels too robotic and lacks passion. The pacing is atrocious. Justice League #75 labors too much for the first half of the issue as it plods along in a boring fashion. Williamson overwhelms the reader with too much of an exposition dump in an uncreative manner. The story drags too much and begins to lose the reader’s attention before the Dark Army debuts and finally injects some excitement into the issue.
Williamson spends three pages showing the various Justice Leaguers being teleported away from various locations. We then get a double-page splash shot of the Justice Leaguers now in the House of Heroes and greeting the Justice League Incarnate. It is now five pages into the story and nothing has happened other than assembling all the characters. Justice League #75 could have absolutely started with this double-page splash shot and the reader would not have missed anything of substance at all.
We then get four pages of President Superman saying that the Great Darkness has enslaved Darkseid and it is moving to possess The Bleed. That the Spectre is dead. These four pages are dry and boring as we get an exposition dump from President Superman.
We then get a double-page splash shot of all the heroes being teleported to a dead multiverse. We are now eleven pages into Justice League #75 and all that has happened is we have learned the Great Darkness has enslaved Darkseid and is moving to possess the Bleed. That is just not enough content over eleven pages.
What is so concerning is that the first eleven pages feel both shallow and boring in addition to feeling way too choppy as Williamson jumps around in a quick fashion. This all leads to the general feeling that Justice League #75 is largely lacking in substance and is just there to deliver a sales stunt issue with a bunch of “shocking” deaths.
We then get two pages of the Pariah announcing his plan to use his antimatter chamber to correct his mistake. Pariah says that the Great Darkness only wants peace. That Pariah will use the Great Darkness to destroy the heroes’ world in order to allow the true Multiverse to be reborn.
We then get a two-page splash shot of the Dark Army. Then we get the good part of Justice League #75 as we get a twenty-page fight between Pariah and the Dark Army and the assembled heroes. We then end Justice League #75 with a three-page scene of Wally West, Jon Kent, and Naomi finding the sole survivor of the massive battle: Black Adam.
There is no doubt that the pacing of Justice League #75 picks up steam and gets much better with the second half of the issue.
Williamson’s dialogue is generic at best and flat-out bad at worst. The majority of the dialogue in Justice League #75 is simply generic and leaves no impression on the reader either positive or negative. However, there are points in Justice League #75 where Williamson delivers some bad dialogue that sounds stiff and sometimes downright goofy and cringey.
There are numerous examples of this throughout the issue. However, it starts very early with the opening scene where Black Adam sees Ollie and Dinah and says “You two. The couple. Where are we?” It just sounds so dumb. These moments of bad dialogue continue throughout the issue. Having said that, the vast majority of the dialogue is simply generic. Which helps to contribute to the soulless feeling of Justice League #75.
The character work in Justice League #75 is non-existent. Nobody has much of a personality other than Green Arrow. The lack of any character work also contributes to the soulless feel of Justice League #75. The result of generic dialogue and a lack of character work combine to make this an issue where there is zero chemistry at all between the characters.
Justice League #75 feels incredibly corporate. There is nothing that feels interesting or unique in this issue. The story is formulaic. It feels like we have read this story before. Justice League #75 presents the foundation for Dark Crisis which feels like reheated leftovers from past decades worth of stories. The Crisis event formula is beginning to show its age. The Crisis event formula feels strip-mined to death and there is nothing remaining that would make for the foundation of a fascinating or creative story.
The foundation for the Dark Crisis feels like remix culture at its most bland. We are at the point where Crisis events are nothing more than a writer putting the same concepts and characters in a blender and then setting them out in a random fashion. The result is a constantly diminishing return.
The new threat of the Great Darkness itself is a dull and hollow threat. Sure, the roster of villains is great. But, the entire concept of Pariah wanting to use the Great Darkness to achieve peace feels uninspired. Evidently, the only way to achieve peace and allow the true Multiverse to be reborn is for the Great Darkness to destroy our heroes’ world. The reasoning is that the heroes woke up the Great Darkness with their wars. This is such an uninspired and unimaginative basis for Pariah’s motivation to begin Dark Crisis.
All in all, the story in Justice League #75 is shallow. There is no depth or substance to this story that captivates the reader’s attention and gets them completely lost in the world of this upcoming big event. The lack of any real substance to this story makes it seem even more like the cheap cash grab that it is.
All right, it is now time to get to the deaths in Justice League #75 and the sole survivor. Let’s start with the deaths. They ranged from goofy (Oliver Queen) to boring (everyone else). Ollie’s death was the one death that was not boring. Instead, Ollie’s death was the equivalent of a character in a TV show standing in a street and suddenly getting plowed over by a bus that came out of nowhere. Ollie’s death was unintentionally funny. This was not a heroic death that Ollie deserved.
All the other deaths? As boring and uncreative as possible. Seriously. Everyone else dies in an anti-climactic fashion. Do our heroes go out valiantly swinging in dramatic fashion as they grittily battle over-powered villains? Nope. Instead, they go our standing there like that Nazi archeologist near the end of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Unbelievable.
Bruce Wayne, Diana, and Kal-El at least get to get raptured away in a double-page splash shot. Yeah, they are in tiny little panels, but at least it is in the format of a double-page splash shot. The remaining members of the Justice League including John Stewart, Zatanna, Aquaman, Hawkgirl, and Martian Manhunter? They get raptured away in one single teeny tiny panel. That’s it. The Justice League Incarnate? They get raptured away in two small panels. Seriously, the big dramatic deaths of these iconic characters were just them standing there doing nothing as they got atomized.
This is about as anti-climactic and boring as possible for the deaths of so many iconic characters. What a huge gaffe by Williamson. It is mind-boggling that anyone thought this is how you should deliver the “deaths” of so many iconic characters.
What is interesting is that in the lead-up hype to Justice League #75, Williamson has been constantly saying that the Death of Superman inspired him with his idea for the Death of Justice League. If that is the case then Williamson failed spectacularly in his stated objective. Superman #75 was a stunning read. The death of Superman was delivered with the proper gravity and emotion given the situation. Superman #75 was infused with so much dramatic tension from beginning to end. The reader was pulled deeply into the story and emotionally invested from the very beginning. Superman #75 showed in a visceral fashion how Superman’s death impacted his family and friends. It was impossible to read Superman #75 and not get emotional by the ending of the issue. The battle between Doomsday and Superman was titanic and captivating. Superman’s death was valiant and fitting for an iconic hero as Superman sacrifices his life in order to defeat Doomsday.
Williamson gives us the direct opposite of Superman #75 with the story in Justice League #75. There is no dramatic battle. There are no valiant deaths with meaning and purpose. There is no emotional impact of the deaths. Williamson delivers a story that delivers the deaths in a cursory fashion. The result is Justice League #75 is antiseptic and anti-climactic. The anti-climactic deaths, the lack of substance in Justice League #75, and the general lack of creativity in the story all combine to create an issue that has zero emotional impact. The reader is never emotionally invested in the story. Instead, the reader finishes this issue with a shrug. Yup. The Justice League is dead, but nobody cares. It has zero impact on the reader.
Lastly, let’s talk about the survivor. We learn that Black Adam is the sole survivor. Or is he? We do get one panel at the end of the fight scene that shows Black Canary still alive and morning over Green Arrow’s body. There is a big explosion behind our two lovebirds. So, perhaps it is implied that Black Canary gets atomized by the explosion? Or, perhaps Black Canary is still alive and is now just lost in the Multiverse? This would place Black Canary in the same position as Barry Allen. We could then have both Dinah and Barry lost in the Multiverse and have to find their way back to their Earth during Dark Crisis.
Now, Black Adam may seem like a bizarre choice to be the survivor until you realize that Black Adam has a movie coming out on October 21, 2022. We cannot have him dead during the hype leading up to that movie release! I can only imagine Jim Lee excitedly presenting all of this to David Zaslov. Synergy!
I have historically loved Black Adam’s character. Of course, Brian Bendis did his damndest to kill and all interest I may have had in Black Adam’s character. At any rate, I dig the idea of allowing Black Adam to play a central role in Dark Crisis. Black Adam is a Superman-level powerhouse and it would be fun to see him getting to shine in the spotlight during a big event story.
Overall: Justice League #75 feels corporate and soulless. The story lacks depth and has zero emotional impact on the reader. There is nothing here that feels like a unique and creative idea that was gifted by the muses to Williamson one night that compelled him to pitch it to DC Comics. On top of this, Justice League #75 also comes with a heavy price tag of $5.99.
I definitely would not recommend spending $5.99 for such a shallow story that lacks any creativity or passion. Keep your money in your wallet for something far more worth it. I mean, for just $4.00 more you can get an entire month of HBOMax! That is a way better bang for your entertainment dollar!
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