HEROES IN CRISIS #1 & #2
Writer: Tom King
Pencilers: Clay Mann & Travis Moore
Colorists: Tomeu Morey & Arif Prianto
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Release Dates: 9/26/18 & 10/31/18
Heroes in Crisis is a painful and tragic story, but it is surprisingly not without its lighter moments. The opening pages alone summarize the plight of innocent bystanders who must put up with heroes and their destructive egos with a simple sardonic line: “There going to be fight?”
Well, it seems Heroes in Crisis is shaping up to be one long fight, but it’s not merely against the external forces that perpetrated a massacre within the walls of the Sanctuary – oh, yeah, that’s why we’re here – but also an internal struggle between heroes and their demons. And while the former can sometimes become tedious regardless of who is writing it, the latter is absolutely where Tom King shines.
It’s also where Heroes in Crisis kicks off immediately after the title page, and continues to dip into throughout the first two issues – complete with confessionals for various characters that the art team manages to keep from looking repetitive despite the nine panels per page with the same background and only miniscule expression changes. It’s precisely those expressions provided by Clay Mann and later Travis Moore, though, combined with King’s emotional dialogue that makes the story stand out.
Heroes in Crisis flits back and forth between the discovery of many heroic bodies – far too many to stick, especially when Roy Harper and Wally West are numbered among the victims – the boiling tension between Harley Quinn and Booster Gold who are both suspected of the crime, and the previously mentioned confessionals that are equal parts humorous and heartbreaking. It’s an ambitious feat to pull off,and the results are somewhat scattered, but no one can deny how much the introspective conversations at least resonate with anyone suffering from trauma. Especially trauma relating to war, because being a superhero is very much like being part of a never-ending one.
Perhaps the most upsetting moment in the first two issues comes courtesy of a little-known hero named Hotspot and his catchphrase of “I’m just warming up.” Though he admits that he says it precisely to be remembered in case he goes out fighting, when Superman finds his body those words won’t come to mind. No matter how hard we try or how much we fight, immortality is never guaranteed.
The first issue ends with the supposed revelation that Booster Gold (or Harley Quinn?) is responsible for the Sanctuary deaths, which is a thread that continues between the two of them in the second issue while the Trinity find themselves with no clues as they attempt to put the pieces together again. Their eventual confrontation with Harley doesn’t lead to any answers and seems to exist more as a way to show off the artistic talents of the team – which are high indeed – but Booster’s conversation with Flash does actually hold some weight.
By the end of the second issue, though, the tension isn’t so much who killed the heroes but rather who is holding their identities hostage and what will happen if their confessionals get out to the public. While it’s certainly a concerning thought, it’s also a shame that the characters don’t get more time to grapple with the deaths of their friends and loved ones – especially Barry only getting a few seconds to learn about losing his nephew, whereas Oliver doesn’t even appear in order to mourn Roy. Hopefully there will be more grieving in the next few issues.
Verdict: 4 out 5 stars. The heavy material is brought to life beautifully by the creative time, and the dark story is balanced by some well-placed humor. The only downside is the over-focus on physical battles when there’s a very limited time to handle the emotional trauma.