Is Death of the Justice League Setting Up DC's Future State?

The DC superhero team known as the Justice League will soon be no more. Of course, fans have come to question the longevity of death in superhero comics, but for the time being heroes such as Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman will meet a grisly end in Justice League #75, the final issue of the series from writer Joshua Williamson and artist Rafa Sandoval. This is a pretty big deal, especially when you factor in how "Death of the Justice League" falls on the 30th anniversary of Death of Superman. The 1992 event featured the Man of Steel falling in battle against Doomsday. In "Death of the Justice League," the heroes will perish against the Dark Army on the edge of the multiverse.

With the heroes dead, DC will cease to publish a Justice League comic. The rest of the DC Universe will reflect their passing, as heroes and villains alike try to adjust to a world without the Justice League. If you have been paying attention to the publisher's output over the last two years, you'll notice there are plenty of young heroes in a position to fill the voids left by the Justice League's passing. Many of these upstarts got a larger spotlight in DC Future State, a two-month publishing initiative that ran in 2021 following the conclusion of the universe-altering Dark Nights: Death Metal. Could it be that the Justice League is being killed off in a move to usher in Future State once and for all?

Future State reportedly spawned from the canceled 5G initiative that was the brainchild of former DC co-publisher Dan DiDio. It would have seen figureheads such as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, and more replaced by the "fifth generation" of DC heroes: Jace Fox, Jonathan Kent, Yara Flor, Jo Mullein, etc. Instead of completly scrapping all of its 5G plans, many of them appeared to be rolled into Future State. Joshua Williamson, the man responsible for killing the Justice League later this year, also happened to pen Future State: Justice League, where all new heroes stepped into iconic mantles after the original League was betrayed by one of their own.

Future State's Justice League consisted of Jon Kent as Superman, Jace Fox as Batman, Yara Flor as Wonder Woman, Far Sector's Jo Mullein as Green Lantern, Andy Curry as Aquawoman, and Jess Chambers from Earth-11 as Flash. Many of these heroes also starred in solo Future State miniseries dedicated to their adventures. Once Future State concluded and the main DC Universe returned, the majority of their stories continued in monthly books. Jon Kent stars in Superman: Son of Kal-El, Jace Fox is in I Am Batman, Yara Flor is featured in Wonder Girl, and Jo Mullein is part of the cast of Green Lantern.

Story arcs that took place in DC Future State are either still running or have also finished up, such as Batman's war on the Magistrate and Superman's rivalry with Mogul taking him off-planet. However, Batman's story arc concluding as fast as it has can be chalked up to writer James Tynion IV deciding to exit in order to focus on his creator-owned comics. Joshua Williamson has been the main architect of the DC line in 2021, writing Infinite Frontier and its follow-up, Justice League Incarnate. The next leg of his story starts in Justice League #75 and the death of the team. 

"Ever since Infinite Frontier #0, we've been building to this story," Williamson told EW when Justice League #75 was announced. "Last year was a lot of fun and games, but when this story starts, it's the beginning of the third act. We're going to see things get darkest before the dawn. The Justice League gets called in to fight this Dark Army that's been building on the edge of the multiverse. They go up against this Dark Army and they lose." 

Williamson also discussed how new recruits like Wonder Girl Yara Flor and Green Lantern Jessica Cruz will handle the heavier workload. Again, the emphasis is being placed on the new crop of DC heroes, giving them a larger spotlight and a chance to be the focal point of future stories instead of the old guard. The members of the Justice League going on this suicide mission are Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (John Stewart), Martian Manhunter, Hawkgirl, Aquaman, Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Zatanna, with only one of them surviving to tell the story of how they fell.

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"Death of Superman" changed the DC Universe, helping to introduce four new versions of the Man of Steel in the process: Superboy, Steel, the Eradicator, and Cyborg Superman. "The Death of the Justice League" will look to replicate its success by making DC Future State a permanent fixture for the foreseeable future.