The True Victim of Heroes In Crisis #8

Heroes In Crisis #8

Clayton Cowles (letterer), Mitch Gerads (art, colors, cover), Tom King (writer), Travis Moore (art)
DC Comics
April 24, 2019

This Post Contains Spoilers for Heroes In Crisis #8.

I have never been more outraged at a book than I am at Heroes In Crisis #8. Between the broken promises of what this series was intended to be and its horrible treatment of the characters within, the book has been a constant let down. The penultimate issue is probably the one that has made me the most angry, and that’s because of its utter failure with regards to Wally West. Spoiler warning for anyone who hasn’t read the issue and who actually cares where this is going.

Wally and family in a Kansas field among bodies of Sanctuary victims looking at the sunset.

Wally is the murderer. He eschewed the help offered to him at Sanctuary and instead lost control and “accidentally” murdered everyone who was there. Totally believable for the man who had just proven himself to be the best Flash (in Josh Williamson’s The Flash) to completely lose control of his powers and accidentally kill a dozen people, including one of his best friends. But to make it worse, what came next is a complete betrayal of Wally West’s character as a whole. You see, back in 2004, DC had another Crisis comic that focused on the trauma of being a superhero.

In 2004, Brad Meltzer and Rags Morales told the story that serves as a thematic prequel for this book, Identity Crisis. Much like Heroes In Crisis, it was a blatant excuse on monetizing trauma, and revolved around murder in the superhero community. Also, much like this book, it was a mystery at heart. I’ll say Meltzer was better about not telegraphing who was actually behind the murders. The biggest difference is that I don’t really care that Jean Loring was a murderer, and I do care that Wally West suddenly became one. But the primary reason I’m talking about Identity Crisis right now isn’t the murders; its the other big thing that happened in that book.

The other point of Identity Crisis involved superheroes sacrificing their morality to take away the agency of villains (and one hero) in the story. You see, they decided they could mindwipe villains using Zatanna’s magic and that would make them easier to deal with. This started with Doctor Light and continued to other villains who knew too much or did especially heinous things. The vote was split on whether it was morally acceptable for the heroes to do such a thing, with Barry Allen being the deciding vote. He had just lost his wife, and voted to do it. When they were caught playing with Doctor Light’s mind by Batman, they also decided to take away his memories. And therein lies my biggest problem with Heroes In Crisis.

Wally West Angrily Reacting to Information About Barry Allen

Even were I to accept that somehow Wally West loses control of his powers and murders a dozen people, what I can’t accept at all is the idea that he would then proceed to cover up the crime. When Wally West found out in Identity Crisis #2 what the Justice League had done to Doctor Light, and more importantly that his idol had been the deciding vote in the decision, Wally was angry and heartbroken. This betrayed everything he thought he had known about Barry and shook him to his core. He spent four issues of his own series (The Flash #214-217) dealing with the ramifications of Barry Allen’s choices and lies. He was so vehemently opposed to the idea of these secrets that I am disgusted by Tom King’s decisions in Heroes In Crisis.

Wally Angrily Arguing With Ollie Queen
Wally’s Reaction to Finding Out About Barry’s Secret

After he accidentally murdered everyone at Sanctuary, Wally proceeded to start making sure nobody knew he had been the one to do it. He stopped Harley and Booster from finding the bodies by putting them back in their freshly reprogrammed holo-rooms, and made it so they each saw the other murdering Wally himself. He went to the future and killed himself five days in the future, which is the only thing we still don’t know the reasoning behind. He did everything that he had been disappointed in Barry for doing 15 years ago.

Wally Running On Water
This is totally a guy who would do the same thing though, right?

The art in this issue is much more fitting to the story than Clay Mann’s art had been, but it’s still disappointing that its matched with a story that fails at what its trying to do so hard. I loved the art from Gerads and Moore in this issue, but I can’t get over my misgivings with the writing to give this book a better review.

I wish Heroes In Crisis #8 was the book that had been promised or even that it just got its characters right. That’s always been one of my biggest problems with the book is its fundamental misunderstanding of who these heroes are. I can’t think of a better example of that than the character assassination of Wally West in this issue. Sorry you had this happen to you, Wally. You deserved better.

Cori McCreery

Cori McCreery

Cori is a life long comic nerd residing in Northern California. A life long Supergirl and DC Comics fan, she is the DC Comics Beat Reporter for Women Write About Comics.

4 thoughts on “The True Victim of Heroes In Crisis #8

  1. It’s unfortunately emblematic of the overall problem at DC right now. They had actually built up good will again with the start of Rebirth and a tonal shift back towards the positive, optimistic and happy. But they can’t help themselves. They move back to the unnecessarily dark and depressing stuff with the likes of what’s going on in the Batman ongoing, and now with Heroes in Crisis and Superman backtracking on what I consider the three biggest symbols of Rebirth being a return to form; Wally West’s return, Clark and Lois’s marriage and Jon Kent. Those were a showcase of the hopeful part of DC, where we got to feel excited and happy again, but now DC have decided to turn Wally into a murderer, aged Jon Kent up and made him angsty, are hinting that Clark and Lois are getting a divorce and finally, to tie things back into how awful Heroes in Crisis is, have had Lois publish highly sensitive, private information about heroes and their struggles with mental health.

    All that would be bad enough, but the fact that, in addition to being incredibly disappointing, out-of-character and in very poor taste, Heroes in Crisis is also woefully misleading about mental health (exposure therapy DOES NOT WORK LIKE THAT) makes it harmful as well. So yeah, the sooner this trainwreck of a story is over and the current higher-ups at DC leave, the better. I’ve been saying that for a while now (since before the New 52, actually, so god, nearly ten years), but now that we’ve actually got something like this, it’s more appropriate than ever.

    1. Not that I’m defending DC execs, ESPECIALLY not Damn Didio, but how sure are we of King’s role in this? Is anything problematic or outright terrible with both this series and Batman directly attributable to him, or should we just assume that Damn Didio, Dim Lee and Harass Bob are responsible for it all?

      It’s fitting that Time/Warner owns MAD Magazine. Their execs shall forever be "The Usual Gang of Idiots".

      1. I’m not really willing to give King any benefit of the doubt at this point. He also didn’t worry about a CW with regards to suicide with Mister Miracle, and called criticism of this book "Click Bait" so, yeah, a lot is DiDio’s fault, but it’s still King’s keyboard writing the books.

      2. At the end of the day, a writer is responsible for the words they put out. Their name is on the cover, they have to stand by that product. Whatever the share of the decision-making process, King agreed with it enough to let his name be on that cover.

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