Monday, October 1, 2018

Heroes In Crisis #1

Heroes in Crisis #1 came out last week, the first issue in DC's big company crossover and a sad return to the days of grim, gory, dark story telling of recent years. Unfortunately, this shouldn't surprise me.

One of the things that spurred me to start this blog was the darkening of Supergirl's character in the Loeb/Turner era. I wanted to shine a light on her more heroic past so new readers woundn't think she was always the sullen, sulking, angry girl who just wanted to be left alone.

And over the 10 plus years of doing this, I have witnessed the descent of the DCU into a dark place. Some of the more notable lowlights I have covered include Cry For Justice and the  ripping off of Red Arrow's arm, the graying of all DC in Forever Evil . and the grim nature of Future's End.

Where was the optimism? Where were the heroes spurred to help humanity because it was the right thing to do? Where was the light which was going to save us from the darkness?

It was only a few years ago that DC had a course correction, deciding that they couldn't go down any further. It was time to correct the mistakes of the New 52 and subsequent stories and bring back the ideals, the hope. We got Rebirth  and for a short period of time we were happy.

I got into comics to read the exploits of heroes and be inspired to do more. Yes, even then they had human problems – love, finances, fatigue – but they always rose above. But you get the sense that things are turning and we are heading back to a DCU where (per Dan Didio) heroes can't be happy. Now the trend is to make them utterly relatable, to give the characters not only feet of clay but whole bodies of the stuff.

Heroes In Crisis is a story purportedly about PTSD and healing. Instead of that, we get a bloody, brutal issue.


The bulk of the issue is a fight between Harley Quinn and Booster Gold, initially in a diner and then spilling out into a corn field.

In the first couple of pages Quinn has stabbed Booster a number of times and has smeared his blood on her face like war paint.

If this sort of horror is happening now, where is this going to go to build suspense. How much more horrible?

It's like in Future's End when in the first issue a suburban family gets gunned down by Grifter and someone else has their hands cut off. How do you top that?

And then we get this gory scene of the Sanctuary dead scattered outside the facility.

While I understand the need to recognize mental health as an issue, I was surprised to see the sheer number of heroes currently inpatient there. That is a lot of bloody dots down there.

What's more is that, for me as a reader, this is happening all too soon. We never even saw what Sanctuary is like. Who provides the care? Are there group sessions? Do people know who the other patients are? How safe do they feel?

Without knowing how safe these folks felt, not only physically but mentally, this fell flat. I can only measure the horror in body count, not in violation.

And then, the page that was supposed to make me sit up and take notice about the weight of this series. After all, big names have to die.

So Wally, the literal face of the Rebirth movement, the character cast aside who then returned in glory, is dead. And so is Roy. The nine panel grid pages showing the heroes therapy were good. But that was just overrun by the loosed blood-dimmed tide.

I read this dispassionately. Heroes dead by the dozen. One eaten by a bird. The personification of a movement towards hope in the DCU dead. A humor character reduced to an insane assassin. A goofy Bwa-ha-ha hero now a mass murderer. I wasn't drawn in. It felt more like I was shown a story rather then being in it.

I should have been sad. Or angry.

Instead I was bored.
And disappointed.
I don’t think these were the emotions Dan Didio or Tom King were hoping to invoke.

I think the only thing that shocked me is that it comes from King. Even at it’s bloodiest and most depressing, Mister Miracle has had some undercurrent of hope and love. I could feel that Miracle was heading in the right direction. I don’t think Heroes in Crisis is.


Martin Gray said...

Thanks for a wonderful think piece I have nothing to add, you have said it all. I feel like posting this on Dan Didio's Facebook page, but wouldn't, without your permission! Have you tweeted it to Jim Lee?

I'm jealous of this line! 'Now the trend is to make them utterly relatable, to give the characters not only feet of clay but whole bodies of the stuff.'

Anonymous said...

There isn't much I can add, either. This is... well, gore porn. If I want to see people dying in horrible ways, I'll re-read Fist of North Star.

Or Battle Angel Alita... which that scene where Harley smears blood across her cheeks reminds me of.

Exploring the origin and mechanics of Sanctuary could have been an interesting story, and a means to reconstruct Watchmen deconstruction (yes, superheroics may wear your sanity down... so you can get what therapy and counsel you need).

And Wally and Roy murdered. It can't be a Crisis event without several A-Listers and a lot of B-Listers dying horribly, can it? Wally and Roy will return, I'm certain, but the remaining Z-Listers...

"I should have been sad. Or angry. Instead I was bored. And disappointed."

Of course you are. We've seen this kind of stuff dozens of times for now. Neither DC nor Marvel can have an event without a high death toll, aparently. This kind of gorey stuff is boring and extremely juvenile.

I'm starting to think, Anj, that Supergirl fans didn't know how good they got it when she was fridged in 1985. Kara died fighting tooth and nail rather than get gunned down off panel prior to the start of the story.

I'll get legitimately worried if she turns up in this book.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that we are going to get flashbacks to eventually fill in the story. In the meantime it's starting out like many a procedural of its type.

Sanctuary (which I preferred as the name of Kara's short-lived murderous wise-guy underwater fortress) must have done plenty of good for plenty of people, or else there wouldn't have been so many heroes in attendance here. But whether or not we wanted to dig into their traumas is another matter.

The series was lengthened, and easy to see why. There's not much story on each page. But - I do prefer pages like this with excellent art and minimal text. (I read books when I want a lot of text.) And this art is so good, you almost don't need any text.

None of this changes the gore factor, of course.

We already know the Ryan Sook variant covers are each going to depict some past tragedy.

I doubt either Harley or Booster is going to be responsible, in the end. If this is a murder mystery, it seems too soon to narrow the possibilities to just two. And it is hard to imagine any one attendee here powerful enough to overwhelm ALL of these others. Certainly not Harley or Booster.

I think I'll stick with the series. At least for now.

Anonymous said...

"I'll get legitimately worried if she turns up in this book."

Same here, if Supergirl turns up in HiC, it would be the same tension yet again and I have a feeling she will pop up. But I am still hoping that her popularity thanks to the tvshow will save her from a gory fate atleast.

As for the issue as a is truly disappointing. It's the same old bullshit recycled again and again, people are angry and rightfully so. I am not going to buy this anymore and encourage didio or king to continue this trend.

Gary said...

Yep, not a great deal to add from me, either.

I was surprised to see Wally killed, heck killed off screen no less, but just disappointed by the whole story. The art's great, even if it is depicting horrible scenes, but instead of a "let's talk about PTSD" we get a "let's kill a bunch of characters straight out the gate."

Did no-one at DC listen to the favourable reaction Rebirth had?

Professor Feetlebaum said...

Well...the art was good. That's about the ONLY good thing I have to say about Heroes in Crisis. I guess I shouldn't judge the entire series by the first issue (I should wait until it's over), but there's nothing here that compels me to buy the next 8 issues. I don't want to support this series if all we're going to get is more blood and gore and misery.

I wish someone could tell me why DC thinks this is good.

I'm not expecting Supergirl to play a part in this series. While I understand the concern (Supergirl/Crisis), I can't see her being killed off again. Been there, done that. Kara is in a much better position than she was back in 1985-86 when her comic had been cancelled and her movie failed. And we know that there are plans for upcoming issues as she continues her space mission.

Finally, off topic, but I thought Supergirl fans might be interested that the Tweeterhead Supergirl maquette is on sale TODAY ONLY for $149.99 at Entertainment Earth. The sale ends tonight at midnight. Entertainment Earth is in California, so that's likely Pacific Time. Shipping is free in the USA. Tell 'em Groucho sent you.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments!

i should have touted Mann's art in the piece. It is fantastic.

Todd said...

I did not read this but it sounds like another writer doing a lot of heavy handed things in order to get some effect. Deaths should be heroic, not gratuitous.

William Ashley Vaughan said...

Looks like Supergirl picked a good time to go into outer space. While the other heroes are wallowing in gloom and misery, she gets to take part in what so far looks to be an exciting, intriguing space detective story.

Professor Feetlebaum said...

"Now the trend is to make them utterly relatable, to give the characters not only feet of clay, but whole bodies of the stuff."

Well, that's certainly appropriate, since the artist is Clay Mann.

Sorry about that.
Good night.

Anj said...

Well said Professor. Well said!

Anonymous said...

Not much to add. This book is garbage, the creative impetus is garbage, and DC using it as their tone setter for the foreseeable future is garbage. Let's hope Kara is kept far far away from it. We already know they're destroying the Kent family - at least keep her away from this so she's spared.

I'd also argue that Tom King is a garbage writer. There's no "hope" in Mister Miracle - it's 13 Reasons Why for superhero fanboys, wallowing in the pain & exaggeration of depression without offering any sense of true empathy. He can't write women as anything other than killjoys at best unless his proxy is actively having sex with them. He goes out of his way to bring POC characters & LGBT+ characters into the stories just for wanton cruelty or character assassination. He brings up his CIA background every chance he gets as a way to instantly weasel out of criticism. He hires a friend who is openly part of the D&C crowd to pretend to bodyguard him. His writing & conduct aren't just bad, they're alarming. When King is inevitably found guilty of war crimes or to have a torture basement, stuff like this & MM will finally be seen as the red flags they are. At least, they will be if you aren't a middle-aged white guy.

Anonymous said...

"We already know they're destroying the Kent family"

We KNOW!????

We don't "know" such a thing. In fact, Bendis openly stated over and over and OVER AGAIN he wasn't to going to break their marriage off or kill Jon or something like that. I don't like Bendis, but honestly... His haters have made all kind of ludicrous predictions since before he began his run, and each and every one have been proven wrong. At this point it's clear Bendis haters are looking for excuses for hating.

I don't care for Tom King, but your rant is, honestly, ludicrous and full of lies and fact-twisting. And then you crossed one line:

"When King is inevitably found guilty of war crimes or to have a torture basement,"

When? Inevitably? Are you serious? You are accusing the man from murder, rape, and/or torture at best only because -reality check- YOU DON'T LIKE HIS COMICS. And you actually think your slander and libel are soon-to-be-proved facts.

"At least, they will be if you aren't a middle-aged white guy."

If you had gotten some shred of credibility left, you would have lost it now. What on Earth age, sex or skin color have to do with ANYTHING? Nothing, that's what. Still you felt compelled to state out of nowhere how many you hate people of a particular race, sex and age. Well, thanks for letting everyone know you are a judgemental bigot.

Anonymous said...

Great review. I do not understand how almost every other comic site gave this a 10/10. This was a badly written, empty of emotion issue that tries to generate controversy with murder and gore. Reads like bad fanfiction.