Superman may be dead in the main DC Universe continuity, but he doesn’t seem too upset about it in Dark Crisis: Worlds Without a Justice League – Superman #1. At least, on the surface.
In the first of a series of one-shots that explores the beginnings of Pariah’s new multiverse, created from the essences of Earth-Zero Justice League members, writer Tom King, artist Chris Burnham, colorist Adriano Lucas, and letterer Troy Peteri explore a world wherein Clark Kent gets to watch his son, Jon Kent, actually grow up.
Spoilers ahead for Dark Crisis: Worlds Without a Justice League – Superman #1
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And even though Clark seemingly remembers the world in which Jon rapidly aged and eventually graduated from Superboy to Superman, he insists he wouldn’t trade this version of his life for anything.
But whatever his feelings, Superman is the first member of the Justice League to recognize that something is amiss in the Worlds Without a Justice League one-shots. In June, Dark Crisis writer Joshua Williamson teased different outcomes for each hero.
“Everyone has these fully fleshed-out worlds and it allows us to tell stories on those worlds, like: Do some of them realize they’re trapped there? What happens when they realize it? Are some so happy there they never want to leave? There are some who realize what’s going on and they remember dying, so they’re like, ‘Is this heaven for me?’ All the characters explore in different ways,” Williamson explains.
For Superman, seeing Jon grow up is huge. On the final page of his Worlds Without a Justice League story, he says, “I was there, Lois. I was here. I saw him. I got to see him grow into the man he had to be. I didn’t miss it this time.” This clearly indicates that he remembers something of his life on Earth-Zero, even if he doesn’t exactly remember dying. Clark continues, “No, no, no, not for anything. I wouldn’t trade this… for anything.”
Of course, Superman always does the heroic thing, as noted by writer Tom King in an interview with Newsarama: “Having experienced this joy, can Superman take that away from him in order to save the world? That’s who Superman is. You know he’s going to do it because his own pain is less important to him than our joy. He will take that blow, just like he’s taken blows for 85 years, but it’s going to be hard on him.”
Now, it isn’t exactly clear what will happen to the rest of the JLA once the Flash family finds and (hopefully successfully) rescues Barry Allen from his Pariah-created world. But back on Earth-Zero, Black Adam is leading a new version of the Justice League that includes Jon Kent and Nightwing, both of whom have had a hard time stepping into their mentors’ shoes to fill the void.
Meanwhile, the Green Lantern Corps is searching out Pariah and Deathstroke, meaning there are at least three active superhero teams working on various parts of the threat posed by these villains. Assuming Superman sacrifices his own happiness to save the world (again), the rest of the JLA will hopefully follow in his footsteps – though Williamson warns that it won’t be easy for them to escape Pariah’s “happiness prisons.”
“It can’t just be simple. It can’t be easy. In some cases, they’re trying to escape them, so when they try to escape, those worlds turn on them,” Williamson says. “The Flash is about Wally taking the whole Flash family to Barry’s world to try to free Barry and learning it’s not easy. [The heroes] are the world. It’s not just a matter of grabbing and yanking them and dropping them someplace. It’s a whole thing.”
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