Last month DC released Dark Crisis: Worlds Without a Justice League - Superman #1, a July Dark Crisis tie-in special that the publisher billed as a "tribute" story to Superman (and Aquamen, see details below), who died in the pages of April 26's Justice League #75 (which is getting a second printing).
The publisher also revealed it'd be the first in a series of tribute specials to the fallen Justice League superheroes.
Well, Newsarama suspects the specials are more than just "tributes" (which might even be misdirection), but first things first... DC just revealed the rest of the Dark Crisis: Worlds Without a Justice League specials, and their creative teams.
Here they are:
- Dark Crisis: Worlds Without a Justice League - Superman #1 (July) - by writer Tom King and artist Chris Burnham; Aquaman backup by writer Brandon Thomas and artist Fico Ossio
- Dark Crisis: Worlds Without a Justice League - Green Lantern #1 (August) - by writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson and artist Fernando Blanco; Hawkgirl backup by writer Nadia Shammasand artist Jack Herbert
- Dark Crisis: Worlds Without a Justice League - Wonder Woman #1 (September) - by writer Tini Howard and artist Leila Del Duca; Martian Manhunter backup by writer Dan Watters and artist Bandon Peterson
- Dark Crisis: Worlds Without a Justice League - Green Arrow #1 (October) - by writer Stephanie Phillips and artist Clayton Henry; Black Canary backup by writer Dennis Culver and artist Nik Virella
- Dark Crisis: Worlds Without a Justice League - Batman #1 (November) - by writer Si Spurrier and artist Ryan Sook; Zatanna backup by writer Meghan Fitzmartin and artist Dan Jurgens
As we go into greater detail here, Newsarama suspects as opposed to dying, the Justice League members all got transported to their own utopian dream-like worlds like The Flash did when he was hit with the same kind of energy from Pariah and got skilled to the skeleton in last year's Infinite Frontier limited series.
Their manner of 'deaths' were exactly the same and the world Superman's special describes (below) is seemingly consistent with the Silver Age-like world we've seen the Flash trapped on since and it gives DC a means to 'resurrect' the dead heroes as part of the climax of Dark Crisis.
DC is promising more details on the specials soon, and we'll bring them to you when they're available.
DC has also revealed the first seven pages of June's Dark Crisis #1 in a preview, along with a Jim Lee Dark Crisis #1 variant cover that pays homage to the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, and announced a December Dark Crisis: War Zone #1 special from Joshua Williamson, which likely showcases some of the aftermaths of the event.
Original story follows...
Imagine a world in which the Jon Kent Superman wasn't rapidly aged to the young adult he is now, but instead matured normally and served as a Robin-like sidekick to his father.
That's the apparent premise of Dark Crisis: Worlds Without a Justice League – Superman #1, a DC July one-shot special that serves as a tie-in to writer Joshua Williamson's 'Death of the Justice' and the subsequent Dark Crisis seven-issue event series.
With the main Superman story written by Tom King with art by Chris Burnham, Dark Crisis: Worlds Without a Justice League – Superman is a "tribute" to the Man of Steel, who dies in April 26's Justice League #75 in a story set in "a bit in the future" of the DCU (a detail DC has never officially announced).
When Superman is killed along with his Justice League teammates at the hands of Pariah and his Dark Army, according to DC, "all hope is lost."
The July special is described by the publisher as a "look at a world of dreams he would never have thought possible while alive."
Tom King explains...
"Superman is maybe my favorite character to write, and Chris is one of my favorite artists in comics, whom I've been dying to work with for years, so this project is an absolute joy," the writer says in DC's announcement. "It's an important and emotional story about what Clark missed when he missed Jon's teenage years, the pain and the glory of seeing your boy grow up."
"Where there's life there's hope," DC's description of the story continues, "and with that hope comes a deeper unraveling of the tapestry of DC Universe's biggest event of 2022!"
The special will also feature an Aquaman tribute story by writers Brandon Thomas and Chuck Brown and artist Fico Ossio, and DC says additional Dark Crisis: Worlds Without a Justice League announcements are coming.
Trying to unpack something of an enigmatic description, Dark Crisis: Worlds Without a Justice League (notice "Worlds" is plural) seems to be stories set in 'dream worlds' - alternate realities in which the Justice League characters don't die in the Dark Crisis near-future, but also diverge from current DC continuity as Jon rapidly aged to adulthood well before the events of Justice League #75.
But - and this is speculation here - these 'worlds of dreams' appear to not just be one-off imaginary stories, but could play a meta-narrative role in the overall storyline, with the "hope" the stories represent playing a part in the overall "tapestry" of Dark Crisis.
In other words, in the very-meta 2022 DC Universe in which all stories are in continuity and the characters are somewhat self-aware their existence is part of a constantly edited narrative, the Worlds Without a Justice League stories may play a role in the eventual resolution of Dark Crisis and what's likely the eventual resurrection of the Justice League heroes.
At least that's our best guess.
As for the first-time pairing of King and Burham, the artist had this to say...
"I've been a fan of Tom since his days on Grayson, so although he's probably better known for his 12-issue 'war-is-hell' epics, I still primarily think of him as writing fun formalist done-in-ones," he says. "I've got two young boys who haven't quite figured out what a knucklehead their old man is, so it's fantastic to be drawing a story about Superman trying to live up to the high standards of his own father. I loved drawing the adventures of Batman and Robin in Batman Incorporated, and it's been extra fun to draw Superman with a Robin-esque Superboy."
The 40-page Dark Crisis: Worlds Without a Justice League – Superman #1 goes on sale July 12 with a cover and variant by Burnham and an additional variant cover by Steve Beach.
Look for DC's July 2022 later in April on Newsarama.
How Death of Superman changed the rules for superhero death and set the stage for Death of the Justice League.