DC's Joshua Williamson Examines a Post-Justice League World in Road to Dark Crisis

The Dark Crisis is upon us, and the world now finds itself without its most iconic heroes in the Justice League. Everyone is still trying to catch up and come to terms with what they’ve lost, but they don’t have much time to mourn, as Pariah’s Dark Army is on the move and ready to put their foot on the necks of our world. That’s where we find ourselves in Justice League: Road to Dark Crisis #1, which follows several of DC’s remaining heroes, all handling the crisis in their own way and attempting to fill the void the League left behind. I had the chance to speak to Road to Dark Crisis and Dark Crisis writer Joshua Williamson all about the issue, including how the heroes are dealing with the League’s death, what’s really behind Pariah’s war, and more.

The issue kicks off with a superb Nightwing and Superman (Jonathan) story, and Death of Superman fans will definitely find some big nods to that story and time in the issue. “Yeah, dude, that was one of the things that was really cool about working on that story, was obviously working with Dan, but it was getting to have him revisit that stuff,” Williamson said. “It was really funny talking to him on the phone about that scene and him being like, ‘Which one do you want to do?’ And going back and forth. And then he called me, and he was like, ‘Yo, should Nightwing have the ponytail?’ because he had the ponytail when this happened. And I was like, ‘Hell yeah, he has the ponytail. Give him the ponytail.’ He was like, ‘Well, some people don’t like the ponytail.’ And I’m like, ‘Hey man, listen. Continuity matters. He had the ponytail. We’re leaving the ponytail.’

“I always remember that scene in Nightwing when Scott McDaniel had him … He’s fighting a ninja and the ponytail got cut off in the middle of the fight, and that’s how they got rid of it. But yeah, working with Dan Jurgens was really cool, and it was my dream to work with him,” Williamson said. “When we started, when we knew we were going to do a story about John and Nightwing talking about death. I was like, ‘It has to be Dan Jurgens, it has to be Dan Jurgens’. So, I’m with my editor, and I was like, ‘Hey, can we get Dan Jurgens?” He was like, ‘Hell yeah, we can make that happen.’ So I got to talk to Dan Jurgens on the phone. We talked out the whole story. I was like, ‘Listen, this is what I think. This is what I need to be about. This is the themes of it.’ And then Dan just knocked it out of the park. It was a great experience.”

One of the prevalent themes throughout the issue is how differently the heroes of the DC Universe deal with the League’s death, and we get a front row seat to two very unique approaches when Superman and Nightwing team-up. Nightwing has seen so many die and then come back, while this is very much a first experience for Jon.

“Yeah. That’s what I was going for. When we started putting this stuff together way back when and I was writing, I actually wrote Dark Crisis #1 first, and then I wrote Justice League #75, and then I wrote this. And so, I was actually able to kind of reverse engineer a couple of pieces. But because of that, really early on, I was like, ‘I’m really curious how people are going to react to this story.’ So even the idea, the moment we announced that the Justice League, how are people going to react? And I was like, ‘Some people are going to not believe it. And some people are going to believe it.’ And that’s even been my experience since then. I have people, even when 75 came out, there are people that were like, ‘Oh, death is meaningless. It doesn’t mean anything.’ And then I have people that are super pissed off,” Williamson said.

“So, being able to see that experience, we knew that going into it. I knew it, and even writing this Road To stuff, I wrote this particular chapter before we announced it. And so, I knew going into this stuff, I’m like, ‘Oh, there’s going to be different reactions to it.’ And that was part of my motivation of this, let’s show that. If we know that, if we know people are going to have different reactions to the idea of death in the DCU, let’s show it through the characters,” Williamson said. “Let’s use two characters, one who has a lot of experience with it, and one that doesn’t. And that’s Jon and Nightwing. So, that was a lot of my motivation for putting that story together was to show those different points of view that I knew readers and fans were going to have.”

We also see the current events through the eyes of Wally West, and between this issue and what’s happening over in Nightwing’s solo series, it’s just truly wonderful to see Wally getting to be Wally.

“Being Wally, dude. We did a retailer meeting. I had talked about this then, too, but I feel very blessed that the person to follow me on Flash gets to do a Wally book, something I always wanted to do,” Williamson said. “I always wanted to write Wally and the Flash and it never worked out. So, the idea that now it’s about Flash, it’s about Wally, and it’s written by Jeremy who really gets it and really is having fun with that book. I think that stuff is really key. So, yeah, I’m really excited about that too.”

If you’re a fan of DC’s extensive roster of characters, you will be pleased to know that Road to Dark Crisis takes advantage of that roster, bringing in some surprising faces as opposed to just the regular crew. While Nightwing, Hal Jordan, and more are of course in the mix, we’ve also got some welcome screen time for characters like Nocturna and Spoiler.

“I agree. Yeah, this is one of the things that was a big part of going into Dark Crisis for me was that it was like I have seen these stories from these perspectives,” Williamson said. “Let’s see them from some different perspectives. That’s a big part of this. I’ve seen the big summer event through the eyes of the Justice League, and don’t get me wrong, Justice League is important to the story, but I’ve seen it. So I want to see it from different people, and that’s where Nocturna and Spoiler come from. That’s where stuff with Wally and Wallace come from, which I’m obviously we’ve seen Crisis events from Wally. But a big part of that story is Wally talking about how Wallace is reacting to things, and so I wanted to just show different points of view, and that’ll be a big part of Crisis as well as you get to see some different points of view that you don’t normally get to see.”

The issue also provides a much clearer picture regarding what pushes Pariah over the edge into this full on war he’s waging, but while there are answers here, Williamson teases that not everything may be as it seems.

“Yeah, there’s some tricks to that that we’ll get into it later on because you kind of have to start evaluating like is it the darkness, or is it in Pariah’s head and how much of that is real and isn’t? And that’s stuff that we play up with as we go throughout Dark Crisis,” Williamson said. “But yeah, I wanted to show Pariah’s motivation and sort of tease some of that stuff, and that was what I had talked with Philip Kennedy Johnson about was, ‘These are the pieces I need for Pariah.’ And I knew that he would get it, and he knocked that out of the park. He definitely did a really great job with showing you who Pariah was, in an emotional way, not just a history lesson. Because part of me was like, ‘I’ll give a history lesson.’ And I was like, ‘No, no. Let’s talk about the emotions of this character a bit.’ And that’s what Philip brought to the table,” Williamson said.

Justice League: Road to Dark Crisis #1 hits comic stores on May 31st, and you can find even more coverage of Dark Crisis and DC Comics on our ComicBook Nation podcast, which streams live on Twitch every Friday at 11 AM CST. You can also catch full episodes on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Are you excited for Dark Crisis? Let us know in the comments or as always you can talk all things comics with me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!


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