Heroes in Crisis #2
Clark, Bruce, and Diana continue to investigate the mass murders that took place at Sanctuary but as Bruce states, the records of sessions are supposedly wiped clean and not even Bruce has a backdoor in place (to be fair, he also lied about not having kryptonite in his belt, so trust or lack-thereof plays a large role here). Without evidence of who was in Sanctuary, dead ends abound for the DC Trinity.
After discovering that Commander Steel was forced to swallow a set of joke-teeth, the Trinity seeks out Harley Quinn and finds her in a "safe house" where they confront her. Harley notes that Booster Gold was the killer repeatedly as she swiftly dismantles the heart and sole of the DC Universe of superheroes, mentioning that she killed Booster for his involvement before making her unlikely escape. Meanwhile, Booster is awoken by Skeets, who has used future tech to heal him, and sets out to solve the mystery of whether he did or did not kill the patients of Sanctuary, leading him to cross paths with Barry Allen, The Flash, who had not yet been informed of his proteges death.
Amidst a series of well-crafted therapy sessions, a convention continuing from the previous issue, a distracted Lois Lane sits at her Daily Planet desk when she is informed of an attachment containing a video of Roy Harper, the recently deceased Arsenal, speaking about his past with drug use. The supposedly-deleted videos seem to be weaponized and threaten to out every dark secret of the traumatized superhero community at the hands of the mysterious "Puddlers."
There are beautiful moments in this series, particularly in the form of the therapy sessions that are now slowly being leaked and could have major ramifications should they go public. Batman is shown expressing grief over his fallen wards (although he uncharacteristically removes his cowl on camera). Diana shares a story of trauma from her childhood, along with her coping skills for said traumas. Clark discusses the stresses of living a dual-life in which he is unsure which figure is his mask, and his anxiety over the need for perfection. In isolation, these pages are a touchstone between reader and character, showing that the bounds of mental illness and the stresses of everyday life are not only the purview of mere mortals but can be shared by gods as well.
In approaching this review, I found myself flustered, and when such an occurrence arises, I turned to my closest confidants for advice. It was an issue I walked away from with some definite positives, but on the whole, the trajectory of the narrative was disappointing. My fellow reviewers and friends offered these quotes:
“Yeah, it’s okay,” said Brian Arbizo.
“The only assassination that actually matters in the sophomore issue of Heroes in Crisis is the ritualistic character assassination of the Trinity and Booster Gold,” chimed in John Jack.
Both statements feel exactly right to me. The notion that Harley Quinn could so systemically dismantle the Trinity in the wake of the reveal that her best friend, Poison Ivy, was one of the many victims, speaks to either an overvaluing of Quinn and her abilities, or an undervaluing of Bruce, Clark, and Diana’s. These three feel the weight of these deaths on their world-bearing shoulders, and as we have seen with previous heroes in a similar situation (Identity Crisis), that tends to be an added edge rather than a hindrance. While the sequence of Harley’s “shouldn’t have” list was beautiful in its own right, add “shouldn’t have been able to escape” to that list.
Beyond that, the writing on Booster Gold and his involvement is infuriating. From the plothole covering page in which he explains that his shields were down in the previous issue, enabling Harley to stab him fatally with a butter knife, to the magical/science wizardry of his healing by Skeets, Booster appears as nothing but a joke to King. While Booster is certainly not the noblest of creatures, the constant buffoonery with which King writes him is certainly wearing thin, particularly after the amazing work done by Dan Jurgens and Geoff Johns to establish him as a top tier hero in his own right.
There is a definite sense that all of this narrative is building towards an added level of vulnerability and exposure for the top heroes in the DC stable, but at what cost will it do so? The stakes are certainly high, but the execution could use some assistance.
Amidst moments of brilliance, King fails to craft a cohesive and sensible enough narrative to sustain a Crisis-Level event. For many readers, the brilliance of Mann's artwork may not be enough to pull this series up by its bootstraps and elevate it to the level of the hype.
Heroes in Crisis #2: Laid Bare, the Truths of Man and Woman
Writing - 3/103/10
Storyline - 2/102/10
Art - 8/108/10
Color - 8/108/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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