You've known that it was going to happen since January. The World's Greatest Super Heroes are meeting their end (for real, kinda), but what you still don't know are the details. Just how would Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, and the rest of the Justice League actually perish in the main DC continuity? With the release of Justice League #75 on April 26, we finally have answers.
Justice League #75 is drawn by Rafa Sandoval, written by Joshua Williamson, inked by Jordi Tarragona, colored by Matt Herms, and lettered by Josh Reed. It begins where Justice League Incarnate #5 left off, with supervillain Pariah attempting to destroy the multiverse. Pariah has been trapped in a series of ending realities since the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths and has determined that only by wiping the slate clean can he be truly free.
To do so, Pariah attempts to summon an entropic entity known as The Great Darkness, the inevitable end of all things. He attempts to power up his Antimatter Chamber, the device that awakened the Anti-Monitor. Fortunately, the Justice League and Justice League Incarnate arrive to stop him, teleported to Pariah's hideout in the ruins of a dead reality by JLI member Doctor Multiverse.
Unfortunately, Pariah brought his own Dark Army to keep them busy, assembled from some of the worst villains DC has ever seen. Powerhouses like Darkseid, Nekron, and Eclipso join the fray, and the battle they wage is staggering. Aquaman and Earth-11 counterpart Aquawoman go toe-to-toe with Doomsday, Captain Carrot and Zatanna hold back the Upside-Down Man, Black Canary, and Justice League China's Flash, Avery Ho, attack Neron, ruler of Hell.
But for all their power, Pariah's goons are still slightly less of a threat than they would be normally. That's because none of them are quite in their right minds, chained both figuratively and literally to the will of the Great Darkness. At one point in the battle, a surge of power from Black Adam temporarily breaks Darkseid's shadow chains, and the eternal villain surprisingly attempts to help the heroes.
"The war is already over," says the ruler of Apokolips, "The Justice League cannot win. The only chance of survival is to – "
Suddenly his chains reappear, nullifying his will and throwing him back into battle. But just as the bad guys get one of their best players back, an equally powerful hero levels the field. This is John Stewart, recently made one of the most powerful Green Lanterns to ever wield a ring, and in the moment he enters the struggle, he proves why.
Stewart uses his power to create Green Lantern constructs of absent DC heroes, such as the Flash, Cyborg, Doctor Fate, and Atom Smasher. Heck, Stewart even goes so far as to create a construct of another Green Lantern, Hal Jordan. All these constructs have the same power as their real counterparts, nearly enough to defeat the Dark Army.
Pariah unleashes a Darkness-infected Spectre onto the battlefield, and though the energy that flows through the newly-appointed Spirit of Darkness is enough to wipe the scene of Stewart's constructs, he still can't defeat the heroes. Green Arrow manages to use the distraction to launch an explosive arrow at the Antimatter Chamber, destroying Pariah's immediate chance at wiping out the multiverse.
Sadly, this reality-saving move costs Green Arrow his life, when a rampaging Doomsday uses Ollie's temporary shift in focus to get behind him and deliver a death blow.
Infuriated by the loss of his machine, his Dark Army, and his grand plan, Pariah turns to face DD's mightiest heroes, led by Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman. It seems like our heroes have the upper hand, though a desperate Doctor Multiverse attempts to convince the Trinity he's still a threat.
"You've only delayed the inevitable," says the villain, "...you will be mourned."
Pariah unleashes strange blue energy from his hands. It hits the Trinity first, dissolving the three greatest heroes DC has ever seen into withered bodies, then skeletons, then dust. Bruce Wayne, Diana of Themyscira, and Clark Kent die before our eyes.
The rest of the Justice League - Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, Aquaman, Zatanna, and Martian Manhunter - are next to go. The Justice League Incarnate - President Superman, Captain Carrot, Avery Ho, Thunderer, and even the wise Doctor Multiverse - are the last. Of all the champions that met evil on the battlefield, only Black Adam survives, escaping to tell his story to the heroes of the DCU.
What's left of them, anyway.
Brutal as their deaths may have been, readers will likely immediately start wondering how these dead characters will return. This is comics, after all, and death tends to not stick. For now, we've got to take the word of Joshua Williamson, who took to DC's official blog to clarify what readers witness in #75. When asked about the status of the World's Greatest Heroes, Williamson put it just about as simple as you can get.
"There is no Justice League," said the writer, "There's not going to be a Justice League for a while."