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‘Justice League’ Flirts With ‘Injustice’ And ‘Man Of Steel’ Themes [Spoilers]

If you’re the kind of person who keeps up with comic book news online — and the evidence would seem to suggest that you are — then you may have already heard a few things about what happens in Justice League #22. It’s the kickoff of the big Trinity War crossover, and Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis have already got people talking about it, some of whom are even going so far as to call it this month’s Worst Comic Ever™. And it is, but probably not for the reason they’re mad about.

Spoilers follow.

See, the thing that’s been grabbing all the headlines is a scene where Superman kills Dr. Light by vaporizing his head with heat vision. There’s a good reason for that, too: It’s the kind of scene that’s explicitly designed to grab attention, echoing both the ruinously terrible Identity Crisis and the more recent and controversial Superman-straight-up-murders-people-now garbage like Man of Steel and Injustice: Gods Among Us. It’s the sort of scene that’s meant to be posted on sites like this one and fuel outrage and interest. It’s calculated, and it’s working.

The thing is, it’s also a big dumb fakeout.

It’s only six pages of people standing around in slack-jawed shock until we get the reveal that it’s actually someone else who’s really responsible for it, to the point where he actually says the line “thanks to me, everyone will actually believe that Superman’s killed Doctor Light.” It’s not just clunky, tone-deaf dialogue, it’s an immediate copout that lets the book have its gasp-inducing Superman — KIller?! moment to stir up all the weary tooth-gnashing without actually “breaking” anything, all to set up yet another Important Event where the superheroes all fight each other, just like they’ve been doing for the past five years.

And in doing so, it gives us the fakeout to grab the attention while everything else in the book — including but not limited to the continuing nonsense of Pandora, two pointless purely-for-the-crossover deaths, Wonder Woman’s major contribution to the plot being standing still and yelling “NO!” and Billy Batson being an obnoxious little s**t for well into the second year now — remains the same gigantic mess that it always was. That’s the real problem. Superman fake killing someone is just something we probably should’ve expected by now.

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