HEROES IN CRISIS #5
Writer: Tom King
Penciler: Clay Mann
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Release Dates: 1/30/19
Heroes in Crisis #5 opens on yet another series of panels depicting a hero’s emotional crisis using the classic repetition that Tom King is best known for, but it quickly gives way to a lighter moment between two regular geniuses. In the wake of Barry knocking him out and locking him up, Booster Gold tells his good friend Blue Beetle that the smartest next step is actually the dumbest move he can think of: repeat the same steps and expect different results.
Of course this levity stays incercut with heroic traumas told via Sanctuary’s confessional therapy sessions, such a Commander Steel recounting his many resurrections to the camera and commenting on how he doesn’t know why he’s alive or for how long. The leitmotif is not lost on the reader, but powerful mastery of the tone doesn’t quite make up for the lack of plot movement.
It’s not all introspection and failed attempts at eliminating inner demons, though, as the story also checks in with Bruce and Barbara’s investigation. Whereas Batman hasn’t yet managed to pull Booster’s location out of Skeets because of his inner goodness (although tell that to the criminals he’s been beating to a pulp in the last few issues of his title run), Batgirl thinks she can get the information out of the futuristic robot with some help from Harley and her mallet.
Heroes in Crisis #5 handles most of these beats with a humor that befits Booster Gold, even if it clashes with the segments of Clark berating himself for making the public afraid and promising them answers in his public speech – or even with the fact that Barry just learned of his nephew’s murder. Perhaps it’s most disconcerting that Booster Gold and Harley Quinn, the very two characters suspected of the heinous massacre within the narrative, are the ones who appear to be the least weighed down by this series of events. Nevertheless, the issue looks incredible.
Clay Mann and Tomeu Morey make an excellent team, providing clear and crisp line work that utilizes shadows to great effect. The color palette helps prevent the story from falling into literal darkness even when the content might call for it, but unlike the tonal whiplash it doesn’t feel jarring at all. And though the majority of Heroes in Crisis #5 focuses on still scenes, the two artists shine best in the action-packed sequences such as Barry and Booster going at it for the second time.
The speech from Superman takes up six pages, and while it is moving in and of itself and contains many essential truths about Sanctuary, its relevance to the story at hand was somewhat less essential. Not only is it strange for Wonder Woman to stand next to him without uttering a word, it also feels like a way to kill time before arriving at Booster Gold’s impressive deduction about Wally West.
That revelation is that Wally’s body as it was found in Sanctuary is five days too old to be the “present” West. It’s an exciting thought, confirming for many fans that things were not as they appeared and there was no way an event like this would kill the younger Flash off-page merely two years after reviving him. Unfortunately Heroes in Crisis #5 cuts off right after that, only leaving room for a grim look at Harley’s abuse at the hands of the Joker.
Verdict: 3 out 5 stars. The issue is full of beautiful and poignant pages, but given that we’re at the halfway point of a miniseries there should be a bit more substance among the atmospheric groundwork. Heroes in Crisis #5 contains an exciting discovery that’s sure to change the course of the story, but unfortunately there wasn’t enough space given to it this time around.