Justice League #1 hit stores this week (check out our review here), and the new series makes it abundantly clear that big changes are brewing in the DC Universe. From the death of a major villain to a grim vision of things to come, here are five major developments in DC’s epic Justice League relaunch.
Warning: this article contains full spoilers for Justice League #1!
The recent Dark Nights: Metal crossover ended with the Source Wall surrounding the DC Universe being breached and energy from the unknown realms beyond bursting through. That plot point is still very much at the forefront of this new series. Issue #1 opens with the Totality, a comet-like burst of energy from deep inside the Source, rocketing across the universe and being witnessed across multiple points in the DC timeline. The opening page showcases the futuristic Justice League of DC One Million, The Monitor from Crisis on Infinite Earths, Kamandi and Dr. Canus and a group of immortals (including Highfather, Hera, Ganthet and Phantom Stranger) all watching the Totality’s journey.
It’s revealed that the Totality is essentially the battery powering the Source, and it’s headed straight for Earth. The new Justice League debates whether to try stopping it or allowing it to reach its destination. Ultimately, the Totality reaches Earth, with the fate of the planet unclear as of the end of this issue. Earth probably won’t be destroyed, but it is likely to be significantly transformed by being exposed to such a massive energy source.
Destroying the Moon
The new Justice League’s first mission involves battling a group of “Neoanderthals” who have suddenly started rising up across the globe. These Neoanderthals serve immortal villain Vandal Savage, and their uprising causes serious damage to the planet’s crust.
Faced with the prospect of Earth’s imminent destruction, Martian Manhunter hurls himself directly at the Moon and detonates the bombs Batman has secretly planted there (because why wouldn’t Batman booby trap the Moon?). That act destroys the Moon, and along with it the devastating cyclotron device Savage had constructed.
The Death of Vandal Savage
The events of Dark Nights: Metal clearly have Vandal Savage spooked. The Neoanderthal uprising is one part of Savage’s larger plan, part of which involves creating a new version of the supervillain team the Injustice Gang. Unfortunately for him, those plans are interrupted when Lex Luthor arrives at Savage’s secret lair. Luthor accuses Savage of hiding “the darkest secret in the universe,” a secret that appears to be tied to the emergence of the Totality and the death of Mars.
Luthor then reveals that he secretly ensured that Luthor Corp oversaw the construction of Savage’s base, installing secret passages and levels that Savage himself doesn’t know about. One of those secret levels appears to be home to a mystery hooded prisoner.
Having revealed his hand and cursed Savage for choosing the ideals of justice over those of doom, Luthor proceeds to beat Savage to death with a doorknob constructed of the one metal in the universe capable of killing immortals. After scheming for tens of thousands of years to rule the world, Savage is finally dead.
The Legion of Doom Is Born
In place of Savage’s would-be revival of the Injustice Gang, Luthor has formed the Legion of Doom. This team of A-List villains features several iconic Justice League enemies, including Joker, Cheetah, Gorilla Grodd, Sinestro and Black Manta.
This actually marks the first time the Legion of Doom has existed in DC’s traditional comic book continuity. This team was made famous by the various incarnations of the animated series The Super Friends, but before now DC’s comics had focused on other, similar groups like the Injustice Gang, Injustice League and Secret Society of Supervillains. By taking over Savage’s new headquarters, the Legion of Doom even has a base similar to one seen in Super Friends.
Teasing the Future of the DCU
Even as he dies, Savage’s mind reaches forth and connects with Martian Manhunter, spilling forth all the secrets he’s been hoarding in his long life. J’onn is hit with a wave of visions that seem to foretell a dark future for the DC Universe.
One of these visions shows Luthor choking a hero who appears to be Golden Age Starman Ted Knight. This would suggest that the classic Justice Society of America is finally due for a comeback in the near future, though this tease also suggests that not every JSA member will survive for long.
Other images showcase new enemies emerging in the DCU, one of whom resembles a much larger version of Darkseid. Given that Darkseid himself is one of the main characters in the upcoming Justice League Odyssey, is this his bigger, meaner replacement? Another suggests the emergence of a brand new Lantern Corps.
J’onn’s final vision is of a massive, laughing face gloating over the impending destruction of all existence. This issue reveals that the DC Universe is dying, and this vision seems to be a glimpse of the inevitable death of everything less than a year into the future. These visions distract J’onn long enough to prevent him from casting the deciding vote to destroy the Totality. The new chairman of the Justice League is left to ponder what he’s just seen and hope that he hasn’t doomed the universe to an early death.