The following contains spoilers for Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #5, on sale now from DC Comics.
The Death of the Justice League, the event that kicked off the Dark Crisis, wasn't exactly something readers believed. Killing off so many of DC's most iconic characters in one fell swoop just didn't seem right. Rarely do comic book characters as popular as Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman stay dead for long. The fact these characters had their own universes built around them, which they've finally started to escape, seemed to confirm the Justice League never actually died at all.
Despite the tired trope of heroic deaths being faked, cosmic coincidences, or simply just misunderstandings, the concept was turned on its head in Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #5 (by Joshua Williamson, Daniel Sampere, Alejandro Sánchez, and Tom Napolitano). Although readers of the series may believe that the Justice League is very much alive, this issue confirmed that they really are dead.
Pariah's Dark Crisis Earths are the Only Things Keeping the Justice League Alive
As the DC Universe was about to fall without them, the Justice League had to act. Finally free of their prisons and united again, they all knew they had to save the day one more time. Pariah had some information of his own that threw a spanner in the works though, he really did kill them. Although it seemed like their deaths were faked, and they simply had entire universes built around them, Pariah actually did kill them in order to create those universes. It seems this was the only way he could enact his dark plan, and recreate the heroes however he wanted.
This adds some complications to the Justice League's plan. Apparently, their entire existence is now linked to each of their individual worlds. Those worlds can't survive without them. Therefore, if they leave and those worlds die, they will be erased from existence along with them. It puts the Justice League in a difficult position. Whilst they call Earth-0 their home rather than these Dark Crisis Earths, they're now intrinsically linked to them. Whether they like it or not, they're alive on those worlds. They are not alive on Earth-0.
This is an unexpected interpretation of the usual comic book cycle of death and rebirth. With the Justice League's death in Justice League #75 celebrating the 30th anniversary of "The Death of Superman", it was expected they would very easily return to the land of the living like the Man of Steel first did. After all, his death and resurrection in that iconic story have defined these types of tales in the decades since.
Dark Crisis Subverts the Comic Book Trope of Death and Rebirth - Almost
Despite Pariah's comments here, however, it's unlikely that the Justice League really will stay dead. After all, DC would never abandon these characters this easily. These deaths will be undone but, honestly, the biggest surprise here is that they really were dead in the first place. The likes of Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne assured newcomers such as Jon Kent that the League wasn't dead at all. The same way that readers had faith they weren't dead either. By saying now that they really were dead this whole time, it suddenly makes that faith feel misplaced and gives some legitimacy to the younger heroes' concerns.
Nevertheless, the Justice League will return. However, there is a case to be made that not all of them will make it out alive. There have been hints of some bad things to come for the fallen League, even if they do triumphantly return in the coming issues. Whilst killing the whole team is entirely far-fetched, killing one of them is a lot more realistic. Green Arrow suffered a fatal blow at the hands of Doomsday and Hawkgirl may have made herself mortal again, thanks to Pariahs' tricks. Even if the League manage to resurrect themselves when all this is over, as they are likely to do, the tired trope of death and rebirth may not stick for one unfortunate hero.