Tom King corrects one of the big mistakes of DC’s recent past, but comes up with something terribly worse. Dark Crisis: World Without Justice League – Superman #1 contains stories from the respective dream worlds of Superman and Aquaman after they are trapped there by the Great Darkness and/or Outcast in the opening pages of Dark crisis. It’s still unclear exactly what these dream worlds are, but they seem to point to an ideal future for the Justice League, places where past mistakes are corrected and a bright and happy future can be achieved. For Superman, at least in the tale written by Tom King and illustrated by Chris Burnham, that means Superman can live in a world where he watches his son Jon grow up.
Jon Kent’s aging from precocious superchild to Legion of Super-Heroes senior adult remains a controversial decision within the DC fan base, and the dark crisis one-shot seems like the perfect way to rectify that story decision, at least temporarily. Unfortunately, it’s written by Tom King, the man who turned Adam Strange into a war criminal, Kyle Rayner into a prisoner of war, Mister Miracle into a soldier ordering massacres, Dick Grayson into a spy waging a shadow war, and makes Batman go through a “war of jokes and riddles”. So you can guess the direction King took when he had the opportunity to leave his mark on Jon Kent.
Early King’s Superman story, Jon Kent hears the voices of a million people scream and then fall silent as Darkseid destroys their planet. At first, Superman insists to his son that he should try to ignore the voices and focus on helping what he can on Earth, but Jon is noble like his father and can’t help but get involved in the war effort – bring his father into the war too. As Jon grows and repeatedly goes into space to fight, often with brutal consequences, Superman realizes he can’t stop his son from becoming the man he was meant to be… a soldier fighting in an endless war. This is all seen as a positive – Superman has seen his son grow up and has a lot of complicated feelings about it, while Jon is clearly a more ideal and less world-weary version of his father, a boy who hasn’t compromised his ideals in how Superman did it to protect his family.
Basically, I’m tired of King taking DC characters and always looking at them through the lens of war. Yes, King has a military background and yes, King has actually experienced the horrors of wars, but that personal history need not be reflected in nearly every character he writes. Not only does King almost always present war in an oddly positive light (the wars he writes about are awful, but the people who fight in them are noble, resolute, and morally righteous), but he also bends the characters to shape his perspective. In this story, it is Superman who is sacrificed at the king’s altar, the paragon of truth and justice compromising his morals and values (and sacrificing untold worlds in the process) to maintain a safe truce. from his family. I’m not a Superman purist, but I don’t like how the story portrays Superman as flawed so his son can become a better Superman, because Jon Kent is a Superman who go to war. Honestly if Foreign Legionnaire Jon Kent is what if Superman had those extra years to raise him then give me the timeline where Jon Kent is kidnapped on his summer vacation with his grandfather and tortured for years on Earth-3.
At least Chris Burnham is still at the top of his game. He draws angsty versions of Superman and Jon very well. There’s a sequence where Superman reveals to Jon that he knows about Darkseid’s killings that only works because we see in Superman’s body language his regret and we see Jon’s visible rage and immediate realization that his words reckless wounds his invincible model. If Tom King is determined to make every DC character feel the pain of war, I’m asking Chris Burnham to draw everything so readers can truly feel the same anguish and grief as the characters.
For those who don’t want to see the idyllic future of a superhero introduce their children who go off to fight endless wars, Brandon Thomas and Fico Ossio deliver a great back-up story involving the marriage of Aquaman’s daughter. . Ossio’s works are a little confusing at times, but I really liked that Aquaman’s deepest dreams involved his family being whole and happy instead of being distressed and deciding they had an obligation morality of war.
Ultimately, your enjoyment of Dark Crisis: World Without Justice League – Superman #1 will depend on your feelings of past Tom King comics. If you like King’s commentary on war framed by superheroes, then this comic is sure to be your speed. But if you’re tired of the glorification of “just wars”, instead of acknowledging that war is nothing but a tool of repression that cuts through innocent lives and sullies the morals of all those it touches , you’re probably not going to enjoy watching Jon Kent grow up to join the war effort.
published by DC Comics
On June 12, 2022
Written by Tom King
Artwork by Chris Burnham
Colors by Adrian Lucas
Letters from Troy Peteri
Covered by Chris Burnham and Adriano Lucas