Batman is dead. RIP the Dark Knight, 1939-2022.
That’s right – the Caped Crusader has been killed, along with the rest of his fellow superheroes including Wonder Woman and Superman in the Justice League. In April 26’s Justice League #75 (opens in new tab) appropriately titled ‘Death of the Justice League,’ the majority of the team is defeated and killed by a so-called ‘Dark Army‘ assembled of some of the most deadly villains in the DC Universe, and Batman isn’t spared.
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Over 80 years on the streets of Gotham City and beyond into the wider DC ‘Omniverse,’ Batman has become one of the most influential and popular superhero characters ever – and now his legacy apparently comes to an end at the hands of a group of cosmically powerful foes. But this being comic books, the details of Batman’s death in Justice League #75 aren’t exactly cut and dry, and you can bet DC won’t be giving up on the idea of Batman (or the Justice League as a whole) anytime soon.
Here’s what you need to know about how it happened, why it happened, and what happens next in the wake of Batman’s death.
How does Batman die?
In Justice League #75, the League goes up against the aforementioned ‘Dark Army’ of supervillains including ultra-powerful foes such as Darkseid, Doomsday, and more all under the power of the Great Darkness – and what’s more, the heroes actually lose.
Facing off with the Dark Army, the Justice League is caught off guard by the power wielded by the Dark Army’s leader, Pariah, who seeks to undo the death of his own world way back in 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths (opens in new tab). The first DC crossover event that remade and rewrote DC’s entire reality, the publisher has been undoing, re-remaking, and re-rewriting its events in the 37 years since.
Though they put up a good fight, all but one member of the Justice League are killed. Nonetheless, one Justice League survives declaring “The Justice League is dead!”, and the DC Universe listens.
As a result, the Justice League title ends with issue #75, and according to DC, won’t relaunch again for a while, with the League’s death spreading out into the event story ‘Dark Crisis (opens in new tab),’ which deals with the aftermath of such a devastating loss.
But what’s gonna happen with Batman while that’s going on? Will he be replaced in Gotham City until he’s potentially resurrected, as many superheroes are when they face death? Not exactly…
How will Batman’s death affect the DC Universe?
‘Death of the Justice League’ marks the end of the Justice League ongoing title and kicks off a story in which Batman and the rest of the team are dead. So who’s watching Gotham while Batman’s off the table, and will DC cancel its Batman titles as well?
The answer is a little bit complicated. DC currently has a storytelling concept called ‘Divine Continuum,’ (a play on the publisher’s own name) in which every story that’s ever been told with DC characters exists somewhere in some way in the DC Omniverse, the publisher’s name for all the various aspects of its concept of the Multiverse, its evil mirror the Dark Multiverse, and more metaphysical ideas that tie together into the larger puzzle of the ‘Divine Continuum.’
As such, some DC titles don’t quite line up, continuity-wise – meaning that sometimes the events of stories told in the Justice League title happen before or after the events of stories told in Batman’s solo titles, for example. While they exist in the same world, and in the same continuity and the same timeline, the question of where on that timeline the various stories told in each title falls remains somewhat up in the air and undefined.
This means that while Batman is technically dead in the upcoming ‘Dark Crisis’, the events of that story exist somewhat apart (‘a bit in the future’) from the events of Batman’s solo comics, so Batman can continue to appear alive and well in his own titles, with the caveat that ‘Death of the Justice League’ happens in the same timeline, but adjacent and separate from the events of Batman and Detective Comics.
All that adds up to DC being able to have its continuity cake and eat it too, with Batman still appearing in his own comic books while simultaneously considered ‘dead’ in the larger meta-story of the DC Universe, with ‘Death of the Justice League’ and ‘Dark Crisis’ residing in their own space, leaving the loose ends of how the stories line up chronologically left dangling to the reader… for now.
What happens next for Batman?
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While ‘Death of the Justice League’ is happening, back in Batman’s own private corner of the DC Universe, he’s getting a pair of new creative teams, with writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Jorge Jiminez taking on Batman, and writer Ram V and artist Rafael Albuquerque coming to Detective Comics.
In Batman, Zdarsky and Jiminez plan to introduce a new villain known as Failsafe, described by DC as “Batman’s Doomsday,” a particularly ominous comparison considering that Batman elsewhere in the DC Universe, Batman is currently considered dead at the hands of a villain team which includes the actual Doomsday (who is of course known as the villain that killed Superman the first time way back in 1992).
In Detective Comics, V and Albuquerque will tell a story titled ‘Gotham Nocturne,’ described as a “terrifying” story that is still “quintessentially Batman.” Though further details are still under wraps, promotional art for ‘Gotham Nocturne’ shows Man-Bat, the half-man-half-bat creature who is also sometimes a human scientist and who has been part of the larger cast of Gotham characters for decades.
As you can see, even though Batman is technically dead in the pages of Justice League #75 and its aftermath in ‘Dark Crisis’, there’s another version of the Caped Crusader who exists right alongside the Justice League version, though at a separate and earlier point in DC continuity. Whether the two sides of the coin will touch, or if DC the events of Batman’s solo stories will catch up and square with the events of ‘Death of the Justice League’ remains to be seen, but the magic of comics is, we can still read about him in the meantime.
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
- This DC superhero has an ‘Endgame’ moment in Justice League #75