The Justice League is dead ... but they died heroes.
And Green Arrow in particular had an Endgame-like "I… am… Iron Man" moment.
Recall 2019's Avengers: Endgame. Just as Thanos is about to use the Infinity Stones to wipe out all life in the universe, he is rushed by Tony Stark. When it seems all hope is lost, Tony reveals he swiped the stones and prepares to use their power. But just before he does so, Tony uses his last breaths to utter his final words and shakes the core of a cinematic fanbase a decade in the making.
Say it with us again...
"I… am… Iron Man."
It was more than just a callback to 2008's final words in Iron Man. These last four words of Tony Stark are the perfect encapsulation of what his character has always been in the MCU, a witty, quippy, heart-of-gold smartass. They were proof that, even when things looked its most bleak, Tony remained himself.
Three years after this cinematic milestone, Marvel's biggest rival universe is facing a pretty bleak situation itself, maybe even bleaker than the events of Endgame. This crisis is the 'Death of the Justice League,' which happened in issue #75 of the DC comic with the same name.
Similar to Endgame, the events of this book are taking a massive toll on the universe it's set in. But just like in that movie, there's one character who doesn't let his dire situation ruin his cocky attitude.
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 with members of the Justice League being teleported from where they are across the universe. Superman is snatched out of Warworld's orbit, Batman ripped from Gotham, Green Lantern pulled from OA, etc.
They're all transported one by one until the selection gets to Dina Lance, AKA Black Canary. Her long-time lover Oliver Queen, AKA Green Arrow, sees her being "beamed up" and decides he's not having it, latching onto her and completing the teleportation at her side. Oliver, Dinah, and the rest of the major members of the Justice League wind up at the House of Heroes, home of the multiverse-protecting Justice League Incarnate.
The leader of the JLI, Calvin Ellis AKA President Superman, tells the main Justice League that a dire threat is on its way to devour all existing realities. Even as he explains the threat, known as the Great Darkness, the entropic entity makes its way to the House of Heroes and begins taking it apart. Doctor Multiverse, who's been assisting the JLI in their own book, manages to teleport the heroes away from their current predicament, but the place they arrive isn't much safer.
Transported to the ruins of a dead multiverse, the heroes are met by the mad scientist Pariah, the originator of the threat that kicked off the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Pariah's punishment for waking the Anti-Monitor was to be locked in a loop of dying multiverses, endlessly watching crisis after crisis for all eternity. Now, Pariah wants out, and he's summoned the Great Darkness to end not just his imprisonment, but all of existence, so that he may know peace.
Knowing the heroes of the DCU will oppose him, Pariah has assembled an army of some of the worst villains to ever feature in the pages of DC Comics, a team of baddies he's calling his Dark Army. Pariah unleashes his army on our unprepared heroes, and a battle for the ages begins. However, Batman is quick to identify the fact that the Dark Army isn't truly the multiverse's biggest threat. They're more of a defense, a distraction that will allow Pariah to start up his Antimatter Chamber, a machine that will obliterate existence.
Batman attempts to get to the machine but is held back by Pariah's shadowy forces. All hope seems gone as the heroes fight a losing battle against impossible odds and the machine that will culminate Pariah's plan boots up…And just then, Oliver Queen appears.
Keep in mind, this is a hero who wasn't even supposed to be here. Black Canary screams to her love as he rushes onto the scene, bow in hand. She asks him incredulously what he's doing, to which Oliver responds that he's doing "What I always do… saving the damn day."
And he does.
With one perfectly aimed shot, Oliver manages to temporarily stop the death of the multiverse, placing an arrow on the side of Pariah's from several football fields away. The arrow explodes and Pariah's plan is temporarily foiled, blasted to smithereens across the dead planet. But like Tony Stark's, Oliver's reality-saving gambit comes at a cost.
One of the Dark Army's most powerful recruits, Doomsday, has been rampaging across the battlefield. Most of the heroes have been giving him a wide berth, but in the instant Oliver was focusing on his shot, Doomsday was able to get behind him. He lifts his arms up and, with one savage swipe, brings them down on the Green Arrow, smashing him into the stone surface.
Dinah rushes to Oliver's side, blasting Doomsday away with a horrific scream. As Oliver lies broken on the ground, Black Canary asks him why he would follow her in the first place. With his last breath, Oliver proclaims that he'll follow wherever Dinah goes. Then Green Arrow, the non-powered superhero who dared to go up against the gravest threat in the multiverse with nothing but a bag of trick arrows, dies.
Unfortunately, Oliver's sacrifice does not save the universe in the same way Tony's did. The Dark Army cuts a deadly swath through the rest of the Justice League. Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman are reduced to skeletons at Pariah's hands, much like Barry Allen once was at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths. Despite all their bravery, the Justice League and Justice League Incarnate still die.
And yet, hope lives on. Before he could manage to wipe out the rest of the heroes, Pariah was knocked unconscious by the act of Black Adam summoning the lightning of Shazam. The former villain turned hero manages to escape the carnage and flee back to his Earth, where he informs its citizens that the Justice League are dead, thus kicking off DC's latest universe-spanning crisis event, Dark Crisis.
Now, it's up to new heroes like Jon Kent's Superman, Jace Fox's Batman, and Yara Flor's Wonder Woman to step up and defend reality. Their task won't be easy; Pariah is even more determined to destroy existence after his battle with the heroes didn't end the way he planned. But if they do manage to save the day, to turn the tides of darkness and defeat the nothingness that threatens them, they'll owe their victory, in part, to that trick arrow. To a hero that was himself till death, that followed the woman he loved and did what he did best in service of a greater good.
To a hero who, even at the very end, was a bit of a smartass.
Justice League #75 on sale in comic book stores and digital platforms April 26.
Check out more Newsarama coverage of the 'Death of the Justice League'
- The Justice League, DC's preeminent superhero team, dies at 62
- DC just killed Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, and the Justice League - here's how they did it
- Are Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, and Justice League really dead? Yes ... and no
- What the hell is a Godstorm? That Justice League #75 moment explained