The DCU mourns in Dark Crisis #1 preview

With the Justice League now ‘dead’ in April 26’s Justice League #75, the pieces are in place for the post-Justice League event series Dark Crisis, and DC has released the first seven pages of the debut issue, along with a Jim Lee-drawn variant that pays homage to the original Crisis on Infinite Earths. 

The cover was created for DC FanDome 2021 and is the first in a series of Dark Crisis homage variants to DC Crises through the years.

DC has also revealed the titles and creative teams for the slate of Worlds Without a Justice League “tribute” specials (which we suspect like the Flash, are where the Justice Leaguers are rather than being dead), and also announced December’s Dark Crisis: War Zone #1 from Joshua Williamson, which is likely a special showing some of the aftermath of the event. 

Check out that Jim Lee cover and the preview pages and see below for more information on Dark Crisis. 

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Original story follows...

Dark Crisis is coming in June.

In February DC revealed that writer Joshua Williamson and artist Daniel Sampere will team up to create a “love letter” to the DCU – a monthly seven-issue Dark Crisis series launching in June “30 years in the making.”

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Justice League: Road to Dark Crisis #1 cover by Daniel Sampere (Image credit: DC)

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The limited series will be preceded by two specials, Dark Crisis #0 FCBD Special Edition that will be available to readers free on May 7’s Free Comic Book Day and May 31’s Justice League: Road to Dark Crisis #1 one-shot, which won’t be free.

On March 25 DC released a four-page first look at unlettered pages from the Dark Crisis #0 FCBD Special Edition. You can view these below.  

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As he teased in February on Twitter, Williamson describes Dark Crisis as an “epic DCU event about legacy” that spins out of Justice League #75’s ‘Death of the Justice League’ and connects all the story threads since 2021’s Infinite Frontier #0. 

DC seems to want to impress upon readers Dark Crisis is “epic.” The publisher also calls Dark Crisis an “epic battle of good versus evil” with “epic surprises,” and it’s about showing “how heroes relate to each other when faced with the impossible.”

“It will have all the giant, fun cosmic battles and Multiversal set pieces, but it’s not about reboots, retcons, or rewriting time and space,” the writer promises. “At its core, it’s about the characters and the relationships that we’ve seen built over DC’s great history.

Somewhat a surprise, DC revealed Pariah, a key character in the original 1985 Crisis on Infinite Earths (opens in new tab) by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez and who last appeared in an epilogue of Infinite Frontier #6 (opens in new tab), is the main villain. Pariah is using the Great Darkness as a weapon to bring his Multiverse – now dubbed Multiverse-2 in the new, greater DC Omniverse – back from obliteration. The mad Pariah wants to destroy Earth-0 (otherwise known as Earth-Prime or the main DCU Earth) in his quest for rebirth and vengeance. 

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Dark Crisis #1 two-page spread – notice there are only eight statues (Image credit: DC)

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In Dark Crisis, the Earth-0 heroes left behind in wake of ‘Death of the Justice League’ must come together to fend off Pariah, and to “save the lost Justice League” (put a pin in that phrase). But not everyone agrees to join the battle. 

“To me, Dark Crisis is a big celebration for all DC fans,” says Daniel Sampere. “It’s a huge event full of epic heart, an event that embraces the past while looking to the future. Joshua and I are the biggest DC fans, and this is our love letter to these characters and this universe.”

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Dark Crisis #0 FCBD Special Edition cover by Daniel Sampere (Image credit: DC)

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Featuring a preview and art from Dark Crisis #1, the 32-page Dark Crisis #0 FCBD Special Edition is written by Williamson and “more” unnamed writers, with art by Daniel Sampere, Jim Cheung, and “more” with a cover by Sampere.

“Witness the rise and fall of the Justice League!” reads DC’s description of the special. According to the publisher, the team has been “defeated” by the Great Darkness and his Dark Army, and a new generation of DC superheroes have to rise up to project the Multiverse, but the legacy of the DC Universe. 

Justice League: Road to Dark Crisis #1 sets the stage of the main series and features a roster of writers including Williamson, Jeremy Adams, Brandon Thomas, Chuck Brown, Stephanie Phillips, and Phillip Kennedy Johnson.

Artists include Henry, Jurgens, Fico Ossio, Emanuela Lupacchino, Leila Del Duca, and more.

Justice League: Road to Dark Crisis #1 features a cover by Sampere and variant covers by Chris Burnham and Raf Sarmento.

The special deals with the aftermath of the Justice League “tragically falling” in battle. 

Like the FCBD special, it deals with what happens next, like which heroes rise to the occasion, which villains “try to take advantage,” and what dark forces are waiting to attack.

Speaking of the Justice League and the aftermath of their death, DC referring to its remaining heroes saving the “lost Justice League” is wording worth a closer look. 

While it would come as no surprise if the Justice League isn’t really “dead” and Newsarama has allowed for that possibility since Justice League #75 was first announced, it is noteworthy DC’s entire Dark Crisis announcement doesn’t refer to the Justice Leaguers as unmistakably “dead” in any context other than the proper title ‘Death of the Justice League.’

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Dark Crisis #1 page (Image credit: DC)

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Here is how else DC refers to the Justice League throughout the announcement and the description of the May specials:

“A world without the Justice League…”

“Witness the rise and fall of the Justice League!”

“The Justice League has been defeated…”

“The Justice League has tragically fallen in battle…”

“How does the world react to the Justice League being gone?”

Judging by Dark Crisis preview art, which shows memorial service at the Hall of Justice with eight statues of Justice Leaguers – Green Lantern-John Stewart, Martian Manhunter, The Flash-Barry Allen, Batman, Superman, Wonder Wonder, Aquaman, and Hawkgirl – it seems like the heroes of the DCU will believe the Justice League are dead But DC’s wording in the Dark Crisis announcement certainly gives them some wiggle room. 

But whether they’re dead or just thought dead, they’ll have to be replaced as Williamson previously promised “It’s gonna be a while” referring to the absence of the League. As Williamson more recently hinted, expect “legacy” to be a major factor in the post-Justice League #75 DCU. 

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Dark Crisis #1 full cover by by Daniel Sampere (Image credit: DC)

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Newsarama has previously speculated who will fill the power vacuum left by the events of ‘Death of the Justice League’ and we suspect these early chapters of Dark Crisis will deal with those questions. 

Check out a gallery of Dark Crisis art below, along with a promotional video.

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DC is almost certainly counting on Dark Crisis becoming one of its most impactful DC events of all time.

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