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Off The Rack Comic Review: Heroes In Crisis

December 29, 2019 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Heroes In Crisis
5.5
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Off The Rack Comic Review: Heroes In Crisis  

What are the time parameters for spoilers?

As in, at what point do you bear the burden of protecting yourself from being spoiled rather than depend on social media and society to do it for you?

I always say in regards to big blockbuster movies, the limit should be until after the second weekend in theaters has passed. If you can’t see a major release in two weekends, it becomes your own chore to stay away from possible discussion. There may be valid reasons why you couldn’t make it out in those two weekends, and that’s fine, but after that time, you gotta become your own barrier against spoilers.

TV shows are harder to gauge because of how they are released. But I generally say 3-5 weeks after either the season is binge-released, and maybe 2-3 weeks after the episode airs if they air separately. Frankly, that’s plenty of time for each, especially in regards to the former.

What about comics, though? That’s rougher. What say you?

This was all a fanciful way of saying SPOILERS AHEAD!

TITLE: Heroes in Crisis

Writer and Artist: Tom King, Clay Mann, other spot artists

Publisher: DC

Protagonists: Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, Harley Quinn, Batgirl

Antagonists: All of us

Heroes in Crisis is the… controversial comic series released within the last year or so by DC Comics, giving Tom King another character-driven mini-series with which to work his magic as he has historically done with Omega Men, Vision, and Mr. Miracle. For clarity’s sake, I loved 66% of those series. Take a guess in the comments to which one I didn’t care for!

The plot of Heroes in Crisis is that the DC hero community has set up an advanced therapy home for struggling heroes, and they have dubbed it Sanctuary. At Sanctuary, heroes (and even some repentant villains) come to terms with the stress they have experienced and the tragedies they have seen. It’s off the map and unknown to the public at large for everyone’s anonymity and safety.

The series starts with a disaster at Sanctuary that has left many of its residents dead, including the likes of Wally West, Roy Harper, Poison Ivy, Lagoon Boy, and many more. The two red herrings to start everything off are the typically irresponsible Booster Gold and the manic Harley Quinn… and each believes the other is responsible for the deaths.

Over the course of the series, Booster is rescued by his old buddy Ted Kord, Batgirl tracks down Harley Quinn to help her prove her innocence, and both teams slowly close in on the real killer…

Heroes in Crisis gives Tom King, a former CIA agent before he got into the world of comics, a chance to do what he does best, and that is to deal with a realistic approach to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Tom excels when given characters who have chinks in their facade that allow human drama to play out. He gives the reader a look at the “confessional” rooms that the heroes go to in which they talk about their problems. These are, frankly, an outstanding look into the minds of these heroes by a guy who really “gets” that aspect of things.

The art is also a treat. Clay Mann doesn’t handle all of the duties here because other artists like Mitch Gerads pop in to help some out-of-time sequences, but all of it is impeccably done stuff. Everything here has a sketchy quality to it that adds something of a level of mystique. The colors, while somewhat faded, are also not Zack Snyder’ed out, but used to bring more realism to the hero world. It’s a perfect mixture of tone setting and vibrance.

I personally love the characters of Gold, Harley, Beetle, and Batgirl, and I think King handled them all wonderfully. We get a Booster who is confused and burdened by guilt, but still has the well-loved Booster Gold sense of humor. Batgirl shows her superiority to Batman when she uses her own skills to work out Harley Quinn’s location. Harley is crazy, but also grieving. Beetle is obsessed with helping his best friend. It’s all quality stuff when these four are on the page.

Elsewhere, the story of Sanctuary is leaked to the public, causing strife among the DC trinity—Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman—until Superman is rightfully able to handle the fallout by going on television and explaining the need for the facility and why the world should appreciate it rather than fear that its heroes need their own help. This is the best version of Kal-El, the one who SHOWS you the S stands for hope rather than just telling you.

All of this aside, Heroes in Crisis has one major flaw. And that is in its ending. And it’s two-fold.

For starters, it is revealed that Wally West is responsible for the deaths at Sanctuary. Under the constant stress of having lost his children, seen in Flash War, which I reviewed earlier, his powers wonk out, and yeah… death. Look, I’m not immediately down on things because they did this to Wally. You can tear a character down and then rebuild him; I get that. But it’s another log on the fire of fans thinking DC Comics despises the popular speedster. He spent the entirety of the New 52 M.I.A. only to come back and, in short order, be turned into an accidental killer. The typically happy-go-lucky, charming Wally West is now going to be a brooding sad sack for at least the near future, and… man, we just wanted the old Wally back for a while. Why do this to him?

The second problem lies in the resolution and last issue, which is honestly gobbeldy-gook. In the wake of his sins, Wally… pulls a version of himself, one that is five days older, from the time stream and gets him to agree to die so West can frame Booster and Harley for the murders and out Sanctuary to the public.

What?

It’s a bunch of nonsense that just doesn’t work at all. It’s asinine in its convolution for a story that, until that point, is a well-done character drama and murder mystery. It just… doesn’t work at all, and while I was reading it (and re-reading it and re-re-reading it because it’s so confusing), I was in a state of befuddlement. It was like Tom King just pushed the plot of the last issue through a Mad Libs!

If you want more, HiC inspired me to write an article questioning whether the characters or the creators are the bigger motivating force to buying books, and that can be found HERE.

Talking Point: Besides Heroes in Crisis, give me another quality story that didn’t just shit its own bed on the landing, but went to the neighbor’s house and shit on their bed, too.

And while you’re thinking on that, if you want to enjoy more comic book related blogs and a weekly podcast, visit Ghosts of the Stratosphere. Our podcast is full of debates, top ten lists, and comic reviews, and we update daily!

You can also follow us on Twitter, @gotstratosphere for updates!

5.5
The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
For seven issues, Heroes in Crisis feels meandering, but it’s at least decent material. It’s slow, but heartfelt. Then the ending is such a huge miss. It’s not what fans wanted, it’s poorly written and even worse conceived, and… it’s just a mess. 
legend

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Off the Rack, Rob Stewart