Writer: Tom King
Artist: Clay Mann, Travis Moore, Lee Weeks
Colors: Tomeu Morey, Arif Prianto
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Cover: Clay Mann
Publisher: DC Comics
There’s a constant discussion in the comic world about “event fatigue”, where the fans get more and more tired of the big multi-issue events that publishers release every couple of months (This year alone we’ve had 12 Marvel events and 8 DC events) so it’s understandable why sometimes they don’t sell well, or sell well yet don’t receive the best of reviews.
One of the biggest, most discussed events this year is DC’s “Heroes In Crisis”, which focused on a safe haven created by the Justice League for Superheroes to use when they need to get away from the hardships they face, and where they can get therapy and help to cope with the issues they face due to the stress and dangers they face. This safe haven is attacked, leaving all the heroes at the buildings there (known as “Sanctuary”) dead, including some very big names (Roy Harper – Arsenal and Wally West – Kid Flash).
Now, I like “Heroes In Crisis”. The angle of the story, focusing on how hard it can be to be a hero, and how that no matter how tough the heroes are, they’re affected by their work (it’s also seen to take effect on the hardiest heroes, including Batman), showing how human they are and making them easier for the reader to relate to them. This is a big thing for me, as I love it when the heroes are made to be normal and ordinary, because it makes their super-human feats even more impactful and seem even more impressive.
It’s been written as a mystery story, with the reader trying to figure out who killed the heroes at Sanctuary, with the two main suspects being Harley Quinn and Booster Gold. Issue One starts this with a fight between the two characters (hard to call them heroes – Booster Gold is certainly heroic, but Harley is more complex.) While this goes on, Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman are arriving at Sanctuary to see the damage, and check on the heroes. This is seen to be in vain, as everyone inside sanctuary, even those there to help the heroes, are dead. The final pages of the issue show Gold and Quinn discussing who committed the attack, with both blaming the other.
Issue Two begins with a fun interaction in the Sanctuary interview room (seen in #1 as a place where heroes can divulge their issues – used most emotionally by Arsenal discussing his issues with drugs, or Batman discussing how many sidekicks he’s lost) with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, before the dark tones return. Harley visits Penguin to hide from the heroes she say are after her, before Batman is seen preforming an autopsy on Commander Steel, before he pulls a pair of wind up chattering teeth from the throat of Steel (a usual Joker weapon – potentially blaming Harley or involving the Joker), before the “Trinity” (Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman) discuss if Batman knows who was there and who did it, claiming Batman always monitors these things, even when he promises he won’t (“You prepare for any of us”), but Batman has no evidence of anything, and doesn’t keep records of who’s there, as he visits the centre frequently, so doesn’t want to keep records of what he and others have said. There is also a discussion regarding whether the other heroes can trust Batman, mentioning if he has “Kryptonite on his “Bat-Belt” (To which he denies.)
We catch back up with Harley (who’s playing cards with a Penguin before she’s interrupted by the “Trinity”) and Booster, who is flying away with his robot friend Skeets, who is insisting he turns himself in. What follows is… different. When asked about Sanctuary, Quinn fights back, steals the “Lasso of Truth” and wraps it around Batman who… admits he has Kryptonite on his Bat-Belt, showing he still can’t be trusted. At the same time, The Flash has heard what happened to Wally West, and confronts Booster. Interspliced with this is scenes showing both Superman and Wonder Woman making use of Sanctuary, showing that no hero is above the difficulties and struggles the others face.
Issue Three is perhaps the darkest so far, and I’m unsure if the series could get any darker. This issue shows how the heroes recover, and what Sanctuary offered. It offered a simulation room (Of Kryptonian origin, hand-built by Batman and used by anyone that visits Sanctuary) that allows the user to pick a scenario from their memories or one of their own making. We see Lagoon Boy re-enacting a scenario where he got injured with the Teen Titans, Wally West has several instances where he’s with his children and wife, and Booster Gold sees… Himself. He sits down and argues with himself about his actions, feeling that his mirror image is judging him, leading to him getting angry and eventually fighting himself.
As he continues fighting himself, Wally is seen running towards something with an alarm blaring that there is an emergency, so Wally rushes to find Arsenal dead and… Harley Quinn stood over him holding a bloody hammer, bloodied more when she hits Wally, killing him. Booster arrives, with Harley exclaiming she “Didn’t know he was here”, before the issue ends with more characters speaking to the camera about why they’re there and how long they’ve been there for.
We’re currently a third of the way through Heroes In Crisis, and it’s one of the hardest hitting stories I’ve read in a while. It makes the reader realise how normal these heroes are, and how they struggle to cope with the lives they have, and the impact their abilities or choices have. This is a great thing because it humanises many characters, making the reader see how difficult their lives actually are. The art style is amazing too, as it’s drawn and coloured to a really good standard, it’s detailed and vibrant, really immersing the reader.
However, it isn’t perfect. Event fatigue might be why it isn’t flying off shelves (although I’m definitely buying the variants featuring key events for certain heroes – i.e. the Death of Superman), leading to less readers. Another big issue is (although it sounds far fetched) is the use of “Crisis” in the title can scare DC readers away, as there’s been a lot of stories using crisis, including the (very good but not financially successful) Identity Crisis or the poorly reviewed and read Infinite Crisis. Readers may not be interested because of these factors.
However, Overall the story is intriguing and great, and it’s very well drawn. Overall, I give the first three issues of Heroes In Crisis a 9/10.
Feel free to comment your opinions below, or tweet them to me @CamenzuliDaniel