Heroes in Crisis: Just More Tragedy Porn

Heroes in Crisis: Just More Tragedy Porn

Heroes In Crisis #1 Tom King (writer), Clay Mann (artist), Tomeu Morey (colors), Clayton Cowles (letters), Clay Mann and Tomeu Morey (cover), J.G. Jones and Paul Mounts, Francesco Mattina, Mark Brooks, Ryan Sook (variant covers) DC Comics September 26, 2018 Spoilers below for Heroes In Crisis #1. When Heroes In Crisis was announced, I was

Heroes In Crisis #1

Tom King (writer), Clay Mann (artist), Tomeu Morey (colors), Clayton Cowles (letters), Clay Mann and Tomeu Morey (cover), J.G. Jones and Paul Mounts, Francesco Mattina, Mark Brooks, Ryan Sook (variant covers)
DC Comics
September 26, 2018

Spoilers below for Heroes In Crisis #1.

When Heroes In Crisis was announced, I was leery of it. Just the basic concept seemed to be heading back towards the dark and realistic comics of the New 52 and Identity Crisis eras. Rebirth was started as a way to get back to the core of the DC Universe and to step away from dark and traumatic stories like Identity Crisis. Then came the Cult of King at San Diego Comic-Con. Tom King spoke from the heart about what the story meant to him. Talked about his own past with trauma. Told us about a panic attack that made him think he was dying and terrified his family. It was enough to assuage my fears and make me look forward to the book. Maybe it shouldn’t have been.

The DC Universe heroes all in morning

Cover by Clay Mann

I stopped reading DC Comics shortly after the New 52 started. I didn’t like what the new continuity did with some of my favorite characters, and I didn’t like the overall darker story telling of that era. To be fair, that trend started before Flashpoint, really kicking off with mind wipes and rapes and brutal murders in Identity Crisis. Rebirth was a promise of change away from that era of comics. It promised the return of some characters forgotten since the New 52 started, and it promised a return of storytelling that didn’t rely on trauma to make the plot work. Well, it seems the Rebirth era is truly dead and gone.

Polaroid picture of the Death of Superman

The Ryan Sook variant covers are definitely my favorite thing about this series at this point.

Heroes In Crisis for me read as nothing more than tragedy porn. Characters were written wildly out of character, and deaths happened with no more reason than to cause pain. In fact, one of the two big deaths in the book was all but confirmed to be shoehorned in at SDCC. Dan Didio made a “joke” about how you can’t call something a “Crisis” if a Flash doesn’t die. (Which is bullshit, by the way. Every Crisis before Crisis on Infinite Earths didn’t kill a Flash. Identity Crisis didn’t kill a Flash. Technically neither Zero Hour: A Crisis In Time or Infinite Crisis didn’t kill a Flash, just took one off the table. Final Crisis didn’t kill a Flash. But sure Dan. Sure.) At the time, I took that as a joke, but now we know it wasn’t. Killed off screen, and his body dumped at the entrance to Sanctuary, lay Wally West. The person who heralded the return of the DC Universe I loved, now unceremoniously discarded once again.

Ironically, the panel in which we saw Wally’s dead body pissed me off more than almost any other panel has in any comic I’ve read. The irony is that the only other panel that I can remember making me that angry also involved Roy Harper. Oh, did I forget to mention that? Yeah, also left discarded in the same panel as his long time friend was Arsenal. Two of my top ten favorite characters killed for nothing more than to add “big deaths” to an event comic. Anyway, the other time I’ve been this pissed off at a comic was when James Robinson dropped a fucking building on Lian Harper in Cry For Justice #7. Both of these served the same non-purpose. To add stakes to an event comic that apparently didn’t feel like it could work without unnecessary death.

Green Arrow, Black Canary, Speedy all finding the dead body of Lian Harper

The only other time a comic has made me this angry: The death of Lian Harper

Most of all, it was the out of character moments that have really stuck with me after the fact. I’m still mad at the deaths, but I keep coming back to how cold and unfeeling Superman felt. Just last week, I raved about King’s take on Superman in Superman Giant #3, and this was the exact opposite. Superman wouldn’t come across the bodies of two people he’s known and worked with since they were children and just say “Arsenal and Flash confirmed” to tell Wonder Woman and Batman that the former sidekicks had been killed.

Superman was the most out of character in the book, but neither Harley or Booster felt right to me either. Specifically, noted psychiatrist Harleen Quinzel would not dismiss mental health, and that felt like it was forced for this story. I get that these heroes are dealing with trauma, and that has an effect on personalities, but I also don’t believe that strong of a shift.

Nine panels of Harley's confession

As out of character as it is, at least Clay Mann makes these sequences look good.

All in all, Heroes In Crisis failed to land for me. It angered me in a way few single issues do, and it’s honestly made me bitter about the state of the DC Universe as a whole. It feels like a giant step backward, and I’m very sad it’s happening right now.

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Cori McCreery
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