Justice League #75 will pick up the spiritual torch DC lit 30 years ago by the death of Superman in 1992's Superman #75 in an April special issue leading into the publisher's next big 2022 event that Newsarama can tell you is called Dark Crisis.
But this time the torch has a bigger flame, and it will be most of the entire core Justice League who will die, with Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, John Stewart/Green Lantern, Aquaman, Hawkgirl, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Zatanna embarking on a mission in space, with only one of them returning alive (but we don't know who yet).
Though many of the core members of the team such as Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, Aquaman, and Green Lantern have obvious options to take their places in the pages of those monthly titles, the Justice League series might not be so lucky with Justice League #75 writer Joshua Williamson promising that there will be no new Justice League for the foreseeable future.
But Earth needs protectors, particularly during Dark Crisis, and though a new Justice League may not form for some time as the DC Universe mourns and deals with the machination of the Great Darkness and his Dark Army, there are other established teams that could step into the League's role as Earth's greatest heroes and champions.
Who will be the new top team of the DC Universe? Well, it's very possible that no one group could replace the vaunted Justice League entirely, but these are the teams who have the potential to fill their shoes - at least until they eventually do return (I mean, are Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman really dead?)
Williamson might have already left readers a clue as to who can fill their shoes. On February 8, the writer - who is expected to be behind the wheel of Dark Crisis - tweeted an image by artists Daniel Sampere and Alejandro Sánchez with the caption "It's about legacy," and promising a big announcement Wednesday, February 9.
We fully expect that February 9 announcement to be DC's full-throated, official reveal of Dark Crisis, but we can get a little out in front and consider who might be the Justice League's most likely replacements.
Future State: Justice League
In early 2021, the DC 'Future State' event suspended the regular DC line to show off flash-forward looks at several possible future timelines for the DC Universe, including some in which the core heroes of the mainstream DC timeline were replaced - such as Future State: Justice League.
Future State: Justice League presented a new version of the team, comprised of the proteges of the classic members, who stepped up when the original League disappeared. Though that's a slightly different story, all the characters from that team, including Jon Kent (Superman), Yara Flor (Wonder Girl), Jo Mullein (Green Lantern), Jace Fox (Batman), and Jess Chambers (Flash) are currently in place in the mainstream DC Universe. The only exception potentially being newly minted Aquaman Jackson Hyde, who could take the place of the Future State team's Aquawoman, who in the contemporary DC Universe is still just a little girl.
The final issue of the two-issue series - written by Joshua Williamson - ended with a splash page suggesting (as we pointed out at the time) the line-up would be seen again, and include some new additions.
Jon, Yara Flor, Jo, Jace, and Jackson are seen in the "legacy" image together.
Justice League Incarnate
Justice League Incarnate is a relatively newish superteam that's getting a lot of play in the current 'Infinite Frontier' era including in the current eponymous limited series co-written by ... wait for it... Joshua Williamson (with Dennis Culver) - with a roster made up of heroes from around the DC Omniverse who have a vested interest in preserving the nature of DC's cosmology, and the power to do so.
It seems like a team with a mission that vast would be hard-pressed to step into the shoes of a single Earth's top heroes - but given it's Earth-Prime, and the DC Omniverse often revolves around what happens there, it may be a matter of necessity.
They're not "legacy" heroes, however, which is now something to keep in mind.
The Justice League has been sidelined in the past, having disbanded a few times over the years both as a whole and as a result of enough individual members leaving, before eventually reforming in some other shape with a new roster.
In some of those occasions, the original Justice League's proteges in the Titans have stepped in, sometimes en masse, to take up the torch for the team. With many of the core Titans once again working together as Titans United, the League's death could bring the second generation of DC heroes to the forefront as the DC Universe's elder statesmen.
As we say, individual members of the Titans have stepped up to take on the mantles of their mentors in the past, but maybe it's finally time for the roster to fill the vacuum as DC's preeminent super-team as they've been trained to do for so long.
The new "Legacy" image practically screams Titans, but so this one feels like a solid pick.
The Suicide Squad
It's hard to imagine a team as deadly and violent as the Suicide Squad stepping up as true blue heroes, even in the absence of the Justice League - though they've done their share of good deeds through the years.
But in the upcoming 'War for Earth-3' event, the Suicide Squad will find themselves at odds with their former handler Amanda Waller, who now leads a vicious team of replacement heroes (akin to the Dark Avengers) known as the Justice Squad (hold that though). Could this be the Suicide Squad's moment to truly redeem themselves as some of DC's greatest heroes?
On that note, 'War for Earth-3' also introduces a second potential team of candidates to replace the Justice League.
Amanda Waller has never been shy about stepping on the toes of the Justice League. And with the whole team apparently taking a dirt nap, could she put her newly formed team of henchmen the Justice Squad in the spotlight, Dark Avengers-style?
The team is composed of villains such as Fisherman, Talon, the evil Superboy clone Match, and others disguised as new versions of the original Justice League. Though they debuted in Future State: Suicide Squad, they'll play a key role in the mainstream DCU crossover event 'War for Earth-3,' which kicks off in March - just in time for the Justice League to die.
Justice Society of America
The Justice Society is back in mainstream DC continuity after nearly a decade of having their history relegated to the alt-reality of Earth-2 (as it was in the '60s-'80s 'Pre-Crisis' DC Universe). But are the old-timers ready to get back in the saddle full time and step into the still spry shoes of their successors the Justice League?
It wouldn't necessarily be unprecedented, as the magically youthful WWII-era heroes have often organized teams of protégés around them. In fact, the JSA's direct successors from Earth-2, Infinity Inc., recently returned as the multiversal superteam Infinite Incorporated - meaning they could even pick up the 'Justice' mantle themselves, as the potential heirs of both the Society and the League.
JSA fans are waiting to see what DC does with the property having engineered their return. Maybe this is finally the original DC superteam's moment.
The team appears in the new "Legacy" artwork, in the form of an homage to the first crossover between the JSA and the Justice League in 1963's Justice League of America #21 in a story called 'Crisis on Earth-One!'
The Totality is a cosmic-level team comprised of both heroes and villains who are dedicated to protecting the Earth from existential threats, like those that have threatened the DC Omniverse in the past, with membership including Hawkgirl, Mr. Terrific, Martian Manhunter, Talia al Ghul, Vandal Savage, and Lex Luthor, with Alan Scott (the original Green Lantern) acting as its head of security.
Yeah, some of those folks, like Savage and Luthor, are some of DC's most vicious villains, but they have a vested interest in not letting the Earth they want to conquer be destroyed. With two of their number (Hawkgirl and Martian Manhunter) among the Justice League members fated to die, could the Totality - who have been relatively underused and unseen - step in as Earth's greatest defenders?
Their creation seemed like a big deal in January's Dark Nights: Death Metal #7, but they've really only been minor players since, with their last appearance in the Infinite Frontier limited series, written by ... yeah, you know... Joshua Williamson.
They're not really "legacy" though, and a third of their line-up may die in Justice League #75.
That covers replacement super-teams. But who could replace Batman in the pages of his own self-titled series? How about Lex Luthor? It's not as crazy an idea as you think.