Justice League #75 review

Here’s a comic that ‘does what it says on the tin’. The Justice League get killed. Blasted to smithereens. Apparently. Because we all know they’re coming back… this issue is full of characters who have been killed and reborn. Heck, Wonder Woman has only been back from her death in the previous ‘Crisis to end all Crises’, Dark Knights: Metal, for about five minutes.

Justice League #75 is leading to the next DC Crisis ‘event’ – by this time, doubtful quote marks are necessary – so what does it bring to the table that’s fresh?

Zip. Nada. Nowt. There really is nothing any reader who’s been around for a couple of years hasn’t seen previously.

Members of the Earth 0 Justice League are summoned to a multiversal meeting of heroes. The latest semi-Crisis is recapped.

A misguided hero from the Crisis on Infinite Earths wants to restore things to the way they were. Superman of Earth 2 has tried it. Superboy of Earth Prime has tried it. This time it’s Pariah, backed by a band of baddies touched by the Great Darkness.

But the Leagues have a secret weapon!

But the Great Darkness has a secret weapon!

In a bid to stop Pariah pressing his Multiverse reboot button, Green Arrow takes a shot.

And Pariah is peeved. Guess what he does?

It’s funny, there’s so much cosmic power unleashed in this issue, yet the best page features one man and his bow and arrow. Oliver Queen does what he does best, cuts through the nonsense. It’s a shame he didn’t get his hands on this script, which doesn’t have a moment of originality. It’s just a load of sound and fury, diligently namechecking previous big battles. Crisis on Infinite Earths? Check. Dark Knights: Metal? Check. The Great Disaster? Check. Crisis on Earth C?

OK, that one isn’t there, which is a shame as it would’ve added a smattering of fun to a very dour deal.

Actually, there was a moment that had me laughing.

Call the Titans? Has he read Titans Academy?

I’ve enjoyed loads of Josh Williamson comics and I know he can do better than this Crises cocktail. It’s very efficient, but it’s just going through the motions to get us to the ‘event’ proper, Dark Crisis; yes, that might prove to be a stunning story, but the lead-in doesn’t have to be quite so perfunctory.

The nearest we have to a big surprise is John Stewart’s Super-Lantern moment, which Google tells me has something to do with the just-ended GL series; it would’ve been nice had Williamson given us a line or two explaining John’s deal.

Points, though, for Ollie’s big scene, and that earlier bit with GA telling Batman to get a grip. Williamson should consider writing an Ollie and Dinah strip.

Rafa Sandoval, having escaped Titans Academy, gets the big project he deserves. Sandoval’s storytelling is clear without being blind. Characters are on model while having an interesting softness to them… well, apart from the villains, who are big and bad and spiky. I particularly like his Pariah, who has more heft to him than usual. Penciller Sandoval is working with his usual inker, Jordi Tarragona (whose name is misspelled in the credits) and their familiarity makes for a good-looking book. The spread in which Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman are offed is especially great, evoking one of the most memorable Crisis on Infinite Earths deaths.

Matt Herms, a new name who’s been popping up a lot in the last few weeks, does a splendid job colouring the issue. Especially good are that Super-John page, and a multi-panel spread in which heroes take on villains one on one. Josh Reed letters for drama and deserves a lot of credit.

Daniel Sampere’s cover image, coloured by Alejandro Sanchez, is superb, and I love the Production Department’s peek-a-boo treatment of the print edition. Happily, digital buyers like myself get both versions of the front.

Anyone who’s never read a DC event intro will likely be pleased with this comic. As one of the longtime readers without whom DC’s publishing plans are toast, though, I’d like something new. The Death of the Justice League doesn’t have to be the death of surprises.

20 thoughts on “Justice League #75 review

  1. I was reading along with this overarching story on Comixology, and was subscribed to the Bendis JLA, so I got this issue in print. But, well… it’s looking more likely that I’ll just read Dark Crisis when it appears in DCU Infinite. The bloom was off the rose by the end of Justice League Incarnate, and this was just weightless. And by weightless, I mean I can wait, and by now I couldn’t care less.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really liked Sandoval’s work here, and had to double-check it was him, because I was so totally indifferent to his work on Teen Titans Academy. Or even felt negative about it. This book looked really, really good.

    One thing about Willamson’s work is that, unlike so many writers working at DC today, his writing is clear rather than obscure, and not verbose. Williamson’s stories are a fairly quick read, and if you happen to be following his Shadow War which is running briefly across Robin, Deathstroke and Batman, those are a surprising breeze to get through. Some people would complain they aren’t meaty enough, but I find them an enjoyable read. He lets the art carry the story.

    Maybe the JL will be back, but not necessarily right away. People expected Alfred back right away, but it’s now been years.

    Besides the disintegration deaths, which may have blown these folks into some other dimensions like the one Barry is stuck in, there were several other kinds. Ollie was crushed – can he come back? Some people have noted that Dinah might still be alive – I didn’t see her die in any panel. Did I miss it? And what’s the deal with John Stewart? At first it looks like the Spectre does him in, or is the Specture just there to be a blowhard who yells “Die!” at John? Diana says “No… John” implying John is in big trouble, but then what happens? It’s hard to tell, but John may remain standing only to be zapped along with the group that includes Zatanna, Aquaman, Hawkgirl and Martian Manhunter. I’d call this interlude with the Spectre confusing.

    It’s funny – overall I liked this, but didn’t care for the Generations Fractured and Generations Shattered romps, which I thought were a gentle parody of an event, but which I think you liked much more. But while I can enjoy this, I’d rather it NOT exist. Mostly I worry about getting, next, a year or two of “tie-ins” – I bet “Dark Crisis: World without the Justice League – Superman #1”, the Tom King one-shot announced for July, will only the first of many such one-shots and even minis. It clearly sounds like an anthology title. But I’m still feeling burnt out from the excess of Death Metal and the two months of Future State which directly followed it. I may NEVER get over those two!

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    1. I’ve no interest in another Williamson Ra’s fight club sequence, that made me stop Robin after one or two issues.

      As for this, the Warworld reference is jarring. And what the heck happened with Darkseid wittering on about chains?

      Regarding the various ways people died, maybe only the main Leaguers get to go to pre-Crisis Earths. Funny the sole survivor has a big film coming!

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  3. A few thoughts:
    1. The whole idea of “there is NO MORE JUSTICE LEAGUE” is kinda silly. How many Leagues have we had over the years with characters other than those that were killed off in issue #75? The Detroit League. The Giffen/DeMatteis Leagues. James Robinson’s run. And how many reserve members are there? Dozens?
    2. I know that Snyder’s Metal/Justice League/Death Metal epic wasn’t for everyone. BUT I would argue it, combined with Generations, really said all that remained to be said about 35 years of Crises and we don’t need yet another one. Snyder managed to: Elaborate on and end the stories of the Monitors; tie all of the previous Crises and events together as influenced by one big bad, Perpetua, mother of the Monitors; wrap-up Superboy Prime’s story; and sort of undo the original COIE. Martin, someday if you have the time/interest, read/re-read Crisis on Infinite Earths, Identity Crisis, Countdown to Infinite Crisis, Infinite Crisis and the various miniseries that lead into it, 52, Final Crisis, Multiversity, Metal, Snyder’s League, Death Metal and Generations in consecutive order. It is all one massive story, beginning with the END of the multiverse, and ending with the DC characters REMEMBERING all of the Crises and their own, decades-old publishing histories that COIE supposedly wiped out. And while Generations was cobbled together from the aborted 5G, I think its creative team did what Snyder intended – told a story using characters from throughout DCs publishing history and acknowledging some of them are decades old. That’s what the finale of Death Metal freed editorial up to do – use anything in the toybox. But so far only Generations took advantage of it.
    3. Williamson seems like a really great/enthusiastic guy, and I’ve read/heard interviews with him in which he talks about his love of Infinite Crisis. So, as you point out, it is difficult to to get around the feeling that Dark Crisis intentionally feels like that same event, but with Pariah substituted for the Golden Age Superman/Superboy Prime.
    4. Williamson also clearly admires other DC “architects” like Grant Morrison, thus his use of The Empty Hand from Morrison’s Multiversity as one of Dark Crisis’ villains. I’ve read various reviews of Multiversity and something that struck me is the idea that it was a commentary on the comicbook industry and never-ending events, with The Empty Hand being DC/Marvel always wanting to take fans’ money. So by using The Empty Hand in yet another mega-event, it kinda feels like Williamson/DC didn’t get the joke…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re so right about the idea of the JL being No More is ridiculous, hopefully this will be addressed in-story. I’d love to see a League featuring the likes of Firestorm, Reddy (rescued from One Star Squadron), Ralph… whoever. The in-story worship of Superman, Wonder Woman and co never made any sense to me – they’re ALL the World’s Greatest Super-Heroes.

      Thanks for the reading project suggestion, Dian – you must know I finally gained access to DC Universe Infinite today! It would be especially interesting to read Morrison’s Final Crisis as I really didn’t feel I ‘got’ that one. I’m an idiot, I really did believe the Metal ending when it claimed to be sealing the Crisis well, but here we again, with one of the writers Snyder worked with at the helm.

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  4. Don’t feel bad. I LOVE Morrison but yes, he can def be a challenge to read. I often find myself checking out interviews/other reviews to try and fully appreciate/understand his stories.
    I think that is another issue I may have with Dark Crisis – it’s just too straightforward.
    I don’t want to dump on Williamson. I also write professionally for a living and he seems like a cool guy who really loves the DCU and its continuity and is obviously very talented and doing something I could not do.
    But the last two Crises we got that were supposedly the last ones were Morrison’s aptly-named Final Crisis and Snyder’s Death Metal. And while I recall that both sold well and did well with most critics, I think they are, unfairly, remembered by many as the too-dense, too-meta, “what the heck did I just read?” events.
    And again, not a knock on Williamson’s talent, but I think he is more of a straight ahead superheroes guy like Geoff Johns. More “mass audience reader-friendly” and not particularly challenging. Lot’s of action and drama and cool, punch the air moments and Green Arrow calling Black Canary “Pretty Bird” ’cause that’s what readers expect for their money.
    It is almost like DC feels the need to have ANOTHER, more simplified “let’s have all the really bad guys like Darkseid and Doomsday and Eclipso team up and kill the Justice League” Crisis because not enough readers GOT what Morrison and Snyder did so those don’t count.
    And yet Williamson clearly is a fan of both writers — he collaborated with Snyder during Metal and Death Metal — and will incorporate their continuity into his.
    But that’s how we go from Morrison’s version of The Empty Hand, a character which can be interpreted in a few ways in Multiversity, to Williamson’s straight up use of The Empty Hand as a henchman for The Great Darkness in Dark Crisis. Williamson takes a complex Morrison concept and makes it more easily digestible/understandable. That’s just not for me at this point.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great post, thank you! I suppose my tastes are somewhere between the Morrison and Williamson approaches, with interesting ideas but not too obtuse… I am a bear of little brain – Geoff Johns on a good day, say. Looking at the DC app, I see loads of Final Crisis stuff, it’s daunting, even though I’ve read it all previously. I wonder if I could just read the Morrison mini, presumably that’s the spine with all the main beats in there. And maybe Superman Beyond.

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    2. I also read reviews for Morrison. And right here in the review of Action, Rob had the insight I needed to understand the ending of the Manhunter backup story.

      Morrison wrote a free 6-part annotation on his substack account about his recent Superman and the Authority miniseries. Not sure if you need to create a free substack account to read these posts.

      Sorry about this busted-up URL, but I get into problems on this WordPress blog if I try to post actual URLs:

      https: // grantmorrison.substack .com /archive?sort=new

      In that list, you can scroll down to find the 6 relevant parts, clearly titled.

      It’s filled with obscure things that I don’t think most readers would figure out on their own. Very interesting.

      Fortunately there was little in that series that couldn’t be totally enjoyed even with a much more superficial understanding. The ending panel was obscure, but apparently was just left as a possible dangling thread if some other writer wanted to tug on it, and that’s the sort of inside baseball that no reader would know. (Martin, do you have an “inside cricket” metaphor?)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh probably, I don’t DO sport, so couldn’t say for sure. I’ve tried watching footie and my eyes just blaze over, and the way the commentators drone on (it’s probably like reading my blog).

        I saw some bits about the Morrison Substack on Bleeding Cool, but didn’t realise he had gone quite so in-depth on The Authority. I may have a look, you know I love the trivia.

        I had read about the final Superman and the Authority page being a random story suggestion, and while it sounds like a nice thing to do for future writers, for some current readers it’s a rotten old tease. May as well give us ‘Agatha’ in a closet! I prefer writers to scatter things throughout storylines that could be picked up or not, but outright cliffhangers? Too much!

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  5. It’s true that this JL that has died/been sidelined is a tiny portion of DC’s heroes – but let’s not celebrate so soon. The carnage may sadly be far from over. Ultimately everyone died in Death Metal, and maybe we’ll have to go through that again here. The final ones standing, who save the day, may be the Future State version of Justice League, unfortunately (unless you are a big fan of that team).

    In some interview with Williamson from some time back, the final plans for Death Metal had been made, and DC had no idea what to do next, I guess because they had thrown out 5G and were left with nothing. Having seen no role for himself in 5G, Williamson was planning to leave, but instead got the opportunity to pitch this next big DC event. This was a very tight timetable – Infinite Frontier came out fairly soon after Death Metal ended, and by that point I think Williamson had his outline finished.

    I suppose Future State was thrown in to give some time to reset, though not all creators got a break during that time. Many of the post-Future State writers starting their work at DC during Future State. But that’s where the whole new writing stable debuted – Sheridan, Thomas, Phillips, Easton, Williams, others.

    It’s remarkable how down to the wire DC got with all this, and I’d say considering how little time there was, this event so far (starting with Infinite Frontier and Justice League Incarnate) has been better than it easily could have been.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fascinating, thanks for that. I just don’t see why we need to have another massive event at all, it seems to be every two years that we get a company-wide event, and there are plenty of smaller crossovers too. Before the age of company ‘events’ began, every comic in a line would go their own way, with creators able to follow their own vision; of course there were occasional encounters with the rest of the line, but you wouldn’t suddenly have, say, a Legion epic interrupted by the team having to find a contrived reason to ‘fit’ into a story taking place 1000 years ago. Now that’s the norm. I’m good with big stories featuring a variety of characters, but would prefer them in separate spaces, with no spillage into regular books – like the recent Generations two-issue funfest.

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      1. Much more often than every two years! The final Death Metal book came out Jan 5, 2021. Dark Crisis has officially started in April 2022, which is barely a year later, while the build-up to it has already passed through two mini-series – Infinite Frontier and Justice League Incarnate. Infinite Frontier began in June 2021, 6 months after Death Metal ended – and, just 3 months after Future State ended.

        I consider Future State a very large 2-month event that consisted of around 53 books. While certainly not every book was connected, and took place in different (but ill-defined) time periods, all the Bat titles connected to each other, and then there were a number of titles that related to whatever the heck Tim Sheridan’s Shazam Rock of Eternity Four Horsemen story was about. That pulled in Flash and several other books. Superman of Metropolis, Wonder Girl, Superman/Wonder Woman, and Justice League were connected. Several stories connected to Superman on War World.

        So really, the first Future State books came out the same day the last Death Metal book came out, Jan 5, 2021. Thus there was NO break between Death Metal and Future State, little time until Infinite Frontier, and less than a year to Dark Crisis.

        And we also do have the smaller events. Somewhere in there we had the Endless Winter crossover. Shadow of the Bat didn’t cross over anywhere (there may have been hints about it in a few places, but nothing officially part of the event), but it was 12 weekly issues of the expanded-with-backup Detective, making it a very expensive investment for Detective readers. Then there was the crossover War For Earth-3, and now there’s Shadow War. The Trial of the Amazons crossover is just finishing.

        BAD titles – two names include “Shadow” and two contain “War”! I think if anyone in editorial was paying attention, they’d have done something to prevent that simultaneous name collision. I can’t keep the names straight. We probably got lucky the Wonder Woman crossover wasn’t called War of the Amazons.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks for all that research! It’s funny, half a hundred Future State books were less fun that half a dozen Endless Winter stories… maybe it’s time Dan Abnett and Ron Marz were put in charge of one of the linewide events. I’d rather they were both given a couple of series of their own, though.

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  6. I agree with most everyone else here – there was really nothing special about this issue, but as I enjoy Williamson’s stuff, I’m really hoping the forthcoming DARK CRISIS will be better.

    Martin – you asked “And what the heck happened with Darkseid wittering on about chains?”

    Darkseid and the others are wrapped in chains to show their possession by the Great Darkness (chains covered the world of Earth-Omega at the end of INFINITE FRONTIER.) Black Adam’s blast at Darkseid momentarily knocks Darkseid’s chains off, freeing him from the Great Darkness, so his dialogue from “My chains…” to “Your only chance of survival is to – ” is actually Darkseid trying to give Adam some warning/help/advice. The art isn’t terribly clear but the panel after the “CRCK” sound effect shows him with chains again, meaning the Great Darkness has retaken control.

    Now I need to get on and annotate this issue over at my site. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I need him too! I missed also this chains off/on sequence. I suppose it doesn’t quite matter, since Darkseid doesn’t finish his sentence. But it implies there IS a way to survive.

        Now I’m reading that the Titans are going to die, too, and I’m not surprised. I was more surprised by the idea briefly held that the Titans were the younger legacy characters who would save the day. But no it’s almost certainly going to be the Future State JL. Guess we’ll see.

        I just read the interview with Williamson at Adventures in Poor Taste where he talks about planning this event years ago, before Death Metal. Well, I did not make up what I wrote above – he said elsewhere that DC had nothing and he came up with this near the end of Death Metal. Maybe he thought up elements of it years ago but didn’t pitch it until near the end of Death Metal?

        https: / /aiptcomics . com /2022/05/05/road-to-dark-crisis-josh-williamson-dc-comics/

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