Mild Mannered Reviews – Justice League 2022 Annual #1

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Justice League 2022 Annual #1

Scheduled to arrive in stores: February 6, 2022

Cover date: March 2022

“The Return”

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Penciller: Sanford Greene

Inker: Sanford Greene

Cover: Sanford Greene

Variant Cover: Alex Maleev

Reviewed by: James Lantz

OMAC has found Hawkgirl encased in gold in his dystopian future. The One Man Army Corp crashes the party to welcome the recently resurrected Wonder Woman back to the Justice League. Meanwhile temporal events are occurring everywhere. Someone known as the Lord of Time is the key to it all. Various versions of him from different chronological points have appeared to numerous League members. It is unclear if he is a hero or villain even after Hawkgirl returns from OMAC’s world armed by the Lord of Time to defeat his past self. Yet, when that past self mentions the Gold Lantern, the Justice League has more questions than answers when the Lord of Time disappears.

Okay, my initial confusion of events after readinghas been cleared up somewhat. That doesn’t excuse the lateness as it should have been out before that comic. BUT I do like that this is connected to that. I am wondering how Wonder Woman was resurrected as I haven’t read the events leading to that. Yet, that doesn’t impede my enjoyment of this issue. This was an entertaining annual in spite of the missed opportunity for some Doctor Who jokes.

The art, especially some backgrounds, looks rough in places, but that roughness works surprisingly well for this annual. I wasn’t expecting it to work at first glance.

Okay, aside from a one panel cameo, Kal-El does not appear in this issue. His appearance on this cover isn’t much of a nitpick for me as it was in‘s cover, but it still feels like false advertising to me. That said, this image is like the interior art. I really didn’t think I’d like it as much as I do.

Maleev shows his strength with dark characters like Batman in this beautifully drawn cover.

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Official - Dark Crisis is DC’s next tentpole event after Death of the Justice League

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Dark Crisis is now DC official.

The publisher has formally 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.”

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

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.

As he teased earlier this week 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 has revealed Pariah, a key character in the original 1985 Crisis on Infinite Earths by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez and who last appeared in an epilogue of Infinite Frontier #6, 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.

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

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.”

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

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.’

Dark Crisis #1 page (Image credit: DC)

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.

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

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, and look for more coverage of the implications of Dark Crisis on Newsarama soon, and DC’s full May 2022 solicitations later this month.

Image 1 of 10 (Image credit: DC) Image 2 of 10 (Image credit: DC) Image 3 of 10 (Image credit: DC) Image 4 of 10 (Image credit: DC) Image 5 of 10 (Image credit: DC) Image 6 of 10 (Image credit: DC) Image 7 of 10 (Image credit: DC) Image 8 of 10 (Image credit: DC) Image 9 of 10 (Image credit: DC) Image 10 of 10 (Image credit: DC)

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

Inside DC’s plan to kill the Justice League

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30 years ago, DC Comics killed Superman. From this far-off vantage point, we know that the Man of Steel got better eventually. But after being beaten to death by the monster Doomsday in the pages of Superman #75, Clark Kent was gone from DC comics for almost a full calendar year. His absence felt real.

DC loves to homage anniversaries like this (such as when they published the 2005 crossover event Infinite Crisis timed to the 20th anniversary of Crisis on Infinite Earths) and they’re saluting 30 years of “The Death of Superman” in style. Over on The CW, Superman & Lois is hinting at the imminent arrival of Doomsday. And in the pages of DC Comics, an even bigger threat is bearing down on the Justice League.

This time, more than one hero will die. The current Justice League comic will come to an end with issue #75 (recognize that number?), a story that will see DC’s greatest superheroes killed in battle against an unstoppable enemy. Yes, really — the Justice League is going to die.

“It’s very serious,” writer Joshua Williamson tells EW. “It’s an interesting opportunity to do this on the 30th anniversary of ‘The Death of Superman,’ which happened in Superman #75. We get to take Justice League #75 and do ‘Death of the Justice League.’ We want people to understand, this is serious and this is gonna have a major impact in the DCU moving forward.”

Williamson continues, “I remember the experience of reading the build-up to ‘The Death of Superman’ and then waiting in the rain for my copy of issue #75. I think one reason that story was so powerful was that after the ‘Funeral for a Friend’ story, there were no Superman comics for three months. That’s part of what led us to make the decision that this is the last issue of Justice League. But then three months later, there’s still not gonna be a Justice League comic. It’s gonna be a while, and that’s gonna be a major part of what the DCU looks like after this story: There is no Justice League.”

Justice League The main cover of ‘Justice League’ #75 by Daniel Sampere and Alejandro Sánchez | Credit: DANIEL SAMPERE and ALEJANDRO SÁNCHEZ for DC

For most of the past year, Justice League has been written by Brian Michael Bendis. But Williamson, who penned last year’s Infinite Frontier event and the follow-up series Justice League Incarnate, is swooping in to bring this iteration of the comic to an explosive end that will take the epic over-story he’s been building into its next chapter.

“Ever since Infinite Frontier #0, we’ve been building to this story,” Williamson says. “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.”

The DC superhero universe has changed a lot in recent years, with several new, younger, more diverse heroes and sidekicks taking up the good fight. But while a veteran like Nightwing has seen crises come and go, what effect will the destruction of the Justice League have on newer recruits like Wonder Girl Yara Flor or Green Lantern Jessica Cruz?

“We’ll get to see what the ramifications are of losing the Justice League,” Williamson says. “You’ll get to see how the new heroes react, how some of the heroes that have been around for a while react, you’ll see how people on the ground react to this idea of the Justice League dying, and then you’ll get to see how all the villains react. What happens when they know the Justice League is gone?”

That’s all for the future, though. In and of itself, Justice League #75 will focus on the apocalyptic battle between the Justice League and the Dark Army in a dead multiverse. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (John Stewart), Martian Manhunter, Hawkgirl, Aquaman, Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Zatanna will embark on this mission — and only one will return to tell the rest of the universe what has happened.

Though Williamson is writing the scenes, it falls to artist Rafa Sandoval to actually depict these beloved superheroes dying in battle.

“My first reaction when I read this script was, ‘Wow! This is going to be huge!’ Right after that, I started thinking, ‘how do I approach drawing this?’ " Sandoval tells EW. “There is a big battle with lots of characters and also a very critical and sad moment, so I thought of some movies that I could use as a reference for this book. The Lord of the Rings helped me plan shots and how I could show the battle, as well as how to transition from the battle to the most critical moment, the death of the Justice League. I escalate the action by going from distant shots to close-ups and then suddenly do the opposite to force the reader to stop and take in what is happening on the page. Drawing such a painful death for these characters after they fought so hard was tough. As an artist, though, drawing such epic and emotional moments was a big challenge, and I love these challenges!”

Justice League #75 hits comic stores on April 19. Below, check out a host of variant covers.

Justice League Variant cover of ‘Justice League’ #75 by Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund | Credit: Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund for DC

Justice League Variant cover of ‘Justice League’ #75 by Todd Nauck | Credit: Todd Nauck for DC

Justice League Variant cover of ‘Justice League’ #75 by Mikel Janin | Credit: Mikel Janin for DC

Justice League Variant cover of ‘Justice League’ #75 by Simone Di Meo | Credit: Simone Di Meo for DC

Zack Snyder lines up Justice League reunion for new Netflix movie

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A Justice League sequel from Zack Snyder is looking increasingly unlikely, but that’s okay, because the filmmaker has organised a mini Justice League reunion elsewhere.

The pseudo-reunion will take place on the set of the director’s upcoming Netflix movie Rebel Moon, with Snyder officially working alongside Ray Fisher once again.

Fisher, who played Victor Stone/Cyborg in Justice League, has been confirmed as the latest star to join the cast of Rebel Moon, which Snyder outlined in an exciting Twitter update.

Introducing fans to Rebel Moon’s newest recruits, Zack announced that, alongside Fisher, Sons of Anarchy’s Charlie Hunnam, Marvel (and Worlds of DC) hero Djimon Hounsou, and Sense8’s Doona Bae have jumped aboard the planet-hopping adventure.

Warner Bros.

Related: Kingsman star joins Zack Snyder and Netflix’s sci-fi action movie

“Honoured to welcome this incredible cast to Rebel Moon. Charlie Hunnam, Djimon Hounsou, Doona Bae, and Ray Fisher join previously announced Sofia Boutella, Jena Malone, Staz Nair, E. Duffy, Charlotte Maggi, & Sky Yang round out the cast,” Snyder wrote.

“More to come. Let’s go!”

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Honored to welcome this incredible cast to Rebel Moon. Charlie Hunnam, Djimon Hounsou, Doona Bae, and Ray Fisher join previously announced Sofia Boutella. Jena Malone, Staz Nair, E. Duffy, Charlotte Maggi, & Sky Yang round out the cast. More to come. Let’s go! #RebelMoon @Netflix pic.twitter.com/a9Zpmt2BzW — Zack Snyder (@ZackSnyder) February 9, 2022

Rebel Moon was first announced following the success of Zack Snyder’s first team-up with Netflix, Army of the Dead.

The sci-fi epic – which started out its life as a Star Wars pitch many, ahem, moons ago – is set on the edge of the galaxy, where a peaceful colony is threatened by a tyrannical regent called Balisarius.

David M. Benett/Dave Benett/WireImage Getty Images

Related: Justice League 2 – will it ever happen? Here’s what we know

In a bid to keep the peace, the colony dispatches a mysterious young woman to seek out warriors from neighbouring planets.

“This is me growing up as an Akira Kurosawa fan, a Star Wars fan. It’s my love of sci-fi and a giant adventure,” Snyder previously said of the project. “My hope is that this also becomes a massive IP and a universe that can be built out.”

Zack Snyder’s Justice League is out now on in the US, and and NOW in the UK.

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What Watchmen Predicted in Zack Snyder’s Justice League Universe

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Whether that was the most interesting takeaway to gather from Moore and Gibbons’ story, it certainly made for a striking movie when Watchmen was released in 2009, and paved the way for Snyder eventually being handed the keys to Warners’ DC kingdom after Nolan retired from Batman movies a few years later. First Snyder directed Man of Steel, a Superman reboot produced and partially made in Nolan’s own image, and then Snyder helmed Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, his most uncompromised vision for these characters—the fallout of which led to the controversial Justice League. Or more aptly, Zack Snyder’s Justice League as it was eventually called when released in its most pure, four-hour form on HBO Max last year.

With his DC films, Snyder, in theory, moved away from Moore and Gibbons’ thinly veiled variations on those iconic DC characters. In Watchmen, “the Superman,” in the original Nietzsche meaning of the term, is outright said to exist in the form of Doctor Manhattan, a remote and desensitized man who’s lost touch with his humanity after being given the powers of God. And instead of Batman, the character’s various interpretations are divided between sad loners like an oddball nerd who calls himself Nite Owl II as an excuse to play dress up, and a homicidal maniac prone to conspiracy theories and naked racism: Rorschach.

But by the time Snyder got to play with the actual characters of Batman and Superman in their own proper DC settings, and put them alongside the likes of Wonder Woman and Aquaman, he was expected to make something more broadly appealing and commercial than the dreary and, in his hands, frankly gruesome world of Watchmen. A heroic and mythic vision where they formed a veritable Knights of the Round Table to fight off alien invasions and ancient monsters from the deep. And yet, truth be told, Zack Snyder’s Justice League never moved too far afield from his Watchmen. Which might speak to why his vision for the DC Universe has always been a contentious one.

Gods Among Men

One of the various appeals that came with the 1986 publication of Watchmen is it took a skeptical and thoroughly adult look at the ultimately childish concept of superheroes: What would it really be like to have a world of colorful costumed men and women convinced that their might makes right? Hence the title, which is taken from Roman poet Juvenal’s Satires. That second century writer mused “who watches the watchmen?” while considering the trustworthiness of the guards Roman men leave their wives with while going away to war.

In the mid-to-late 1980s, such a cynical gaze at the superhero concept was revolutionary. It broke down and examined these uniquely 20th century, and uniquely American, fantasies and put them in a “realistic” context. And for many, the idea of realism quickly became interchangeable with “dark” since Moore’s innate pessimism about human nature drained into all the copycats who took inspiration from the Watchmen graphic novel, even if applying its bleakness to traditional superhero stories featuring popular characters—be they Batman and Superman or Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four across the street—often led to a tonal dissonance since these stories were typically not intended to indict the very existence of their characters.

In that sense, Snyder’s early dismissal of Nolan’s The Dark Knight movies in 2008 as not being truly dark is interesting. In Nolan’s Batman movies, good people die and supervillains like the Joker and Ra’s Al Ghul are remade to look like post-9/11 terrorists and lone mass murderers. Even Nolan’s Bane from The Dark Knight Rises appears fairly prescient with his paramilitary, storm the institutions and halls of power, aesthetic. Yet those movies never painted Batman with the same bleak brush that they did their villains, or Moore and Gibbons did all superhero tropes in Watchmen. Bale’s Batman was the exception, the lone and noble knight who, like a comic book hero, would make the right choice, even in a more horrifying and trying context.

Joss Whedon addresses the Justice League situation, claims Warner Bros. lost faith in Zack Snyder’s vision

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Joss Whedon has spoken about his time on Justice League. The theatrical version of the superhero movie was co-directed by Whedon, who took over from Zack Snyder after the latter filmmaker dropped out following a personal tragedy.

In a new interview with New York magazine, Whedon claims that Warner Bros. asked him to “fix” Justice League after losing faith in Snyder’s vision. The studio, however, contests Whedon’s version of events and points out that Snyder had publically stated that he left the project to spend time with his family.

The magazine’s report details how the set of Justice League was tense under Whedon’s watch. Where Snyder encouraged actors to ad-lib lines, Whedon wanted everyone to stick to the script. One crew member claims that Gal Gadot told Whedon that he didn’t understand how superhero movies worked, despite Whedon having previously directed two Avengers movies. Whedon allegedly told the actors he had never worked with “a ruder group of people.” The actors, conversely, felt Whedon was being rude.

One of the major points of contention was Cyborg’s role in the movie. Snyder’s version of Justice League was set to be centered on Fisher’s Cyborg, while Whedon significantly cut down his role. Whedon has now explained his reasoning, saying that the Cyborg story “logically made no sense” and that he felt the acting was bad. He also claims that he spent hours discussing changes with Fisher, who has publically criticized his treatment on the Justice League set by Whedon. He claimed on Twitter in January 2021 that “Joss Whedon’s on-set treatment of the cast and crew of Justice League was gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable.”

Gadot has also claimed that Whedon threatened her career, which Whedon said he did not do, instead saying there must have been a misunderstanding. “English is not her first language, and I tend to be annoyingly flowery in my speech,” he told the magazine. Gadot responded in an email saying: “I understood perfectly.”

When Snyder’s four-hour cut of Justice League was released on HBO Max, reviews were much more positive than Whedon’s version. Fisher’s extended role was praised by many critics. Meanwhile, the New York magazine’s report claims that Whedon regards taking over directing Justice League “as one of the biggest regrets of his life”.

Whedon has been at the center of multiple controversies over the past couple of decades, including claims of affairs on his sets and abuse of power. A full timeline of the controversies is available to read here on Vulture.

Fisher and Gadot are not the only Justice League actors to decry their experience making the movie. Batman actor Ben Affleck recently said it was “awful” and “the worst experience”. Meanwhile, Jeremy Irons said he had not seen the Snyder Cut of Justice League, adding “it couldn’t have been worse” than the theatrical version.