Heroes in Crisis Part 8 -
The killer of the long, long-simmering whodunnit that is Heroes in Crisis are revealed in excruciating detail. What was the motive? Where was the evidence? Was it Harley Quinn? Booster Gold? Someone else? The answers lie within.
There are times when fandom – any fandom, really, in whole or in part – can collectively act the fool, holding grudges against creators or professing ownership to characters and being incensed beyond belief when that writer does something to their beloved character that doesn’t fit within the confines of their understanding of the character’s raison d’etre. A lot of times, that anger can come from older fans uncomfortable with a generational changing of the guard giving way to a shift in how the character is presented or defined. Other times, it’s the sad basement-dweller caricature upset over some imagined slight or another.
However, sometimes that anger is completely justified.
Which brings me to Heroes in Crisis #8.
For seven long, tedious months, writer Tom King has led fans along by the nose, leaving breadcrumbs and red herrings for us to follow, dragging readers along issue by pretentious issue as the mystery as to who killed the heroes in Sanctuary. Nearly every major player in the DCU got involved in the murder in some way or another, even if the dead were a bunch of D-listers plus Roy Harper and Wally West.
Yes, Wally West, the heart and soul of DC’s “Rebirth” initiative, was murdered in cold blood, a slap in the face to every reader who had truly believed that they were witnessing a return to the DCU of old, where heroes smiled and were hopeful and there weren’t limbs getting torn off at every turn and Sue Dibny wasn’t being raped by Doctor Light. A return to the DC that fans knew and loved after the fatally-miscalculated misstep that was the New 52.
But alas, Tom King had other plans, and editorial decided to give him a mandate to do whatever he wanted thanks to the Eisner awards and mega-selling adventures of Batman and his not-wife. And so, Tom King decided to kill Wally West.
And then, in this issue, have him be revealed as the murderer the whole time.
Wait! So he wasn’t dead? Well, y’see…
Wally has been really sad since he remembered his wife and kids from the post-Crisis, pre-Flashpoint DCU simply don’t exist anymore. Point in fact, his entire world doesn’t, thanks to the manipulations of Dr. Blue Man Group. So Tom King decided that Wally should be suffering from PTSD because of this, and at the end of Flash #50, was magically whisked away to Sanctuary to deal with his trauma.
Sidebar: PTSD is no laughing matter. It can destroy lives, consume whole families, and lead to suicide. It’s not a topic to be taken lightly, so when the premise of Heroes in Crisis was originally announced, I was trepidatious. Skeptical, even. But then I reasoned, Tom King famously served in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. I bet he has something to say about PTSD. So, cautiously, I waded in.
And was immediately underwhelmed.
Mind you, this series was originally announced as being five issues, then was suddenly stretched to nine, because reasons that almost certainly have to do with money (classically the root of all evil, and if I’m being utterly cynical in my hyperbole, demonstrably so here). Suddenly, whole issues passed where nothing happened, and confession booth sequences would dawdle on in their oh-so-clever nine-panel grids were rent left and right with orgasmic abandon to no real gain. The art was pretty, for the most part, but the stress marks became evident when issues would suddenly have three pencilers because of the extended production schedule needed to accommodate a 40% increase in “story – “ well, an increase in page count, at any rate.
This problem was odious enough that by the end of issue seven, which arguably should have started the third act – the story felt like it was still stuck in neutral somewhere in the middle of the first act.
All of which brings me to issue eight, and the character assassination of Wally West, the third Flash and – point in fact – the Flash of my generation. The Flash, to me, embodies everything that’s great about DC: the wild perma-Silver Age-infused abandon, the clean-cut right and wrong, the limitless imagination, the unending possibilities. The Flash – regardless of who’s under the cowl (or under the Hermes hat, in Jay’s case) – is, simply put a Good. Guy. Mind you, King doesn’t initially shy away from that. His Wally West is admittedly broken, and needs counseling in the worst way to cope with his trauma. This tracks with what the man’s gone through, but it also sets Wally up for a grand return to form, triumphing over his demons and eventually reuniting with his family. That would have been heroic, and completely in line with Wally’s character: who he is, what he represents, and so on.
But instead, Tom King chose to have Wally accidentally murder the Sanctuary residents in a moment of weakness where his speed-force lightning burst forth and fried everybody, tamper with his own crime scene to cover his tracks, then tamper with the video-graphic evidence of that crime to mislead the investigators, then travel through time and murder his own future self so that he could plant the body at the crime scene and further mislead everyone. Let that all sink in a second. Read it twice, if you have to.
These are not the actions of a hero. These are the actions of a coward.
Of a criminal.
And it certainly isn’t something Wally West would ever do, regardless of circumstances.
At the issue’s end, King acts like he’s going to set up one final twist for Wally to perpetrate in order to save his own ass. But regardless of what that twist is, no matter what time-travel shenanigans are pulled, it doesn’t matter, because what’s done is done: Tom King successfully and willfully assassinated the character of Wally West for shock value. Period. Even if next issue he pulls a magical cross-dimensional rabbit out of his cowl and undoes all the murders, it won’t matter, because Wally will have always committed the crime and then manipulated the evidence to save himself. It’s an act that goes against everything the character has ever been, and no amount of mea culpas can course-correct here. And if this issue winds up being some kind of nonsense red herring, and all my kvetching has been for nothing…? It still won’t excuse King manipulating readers on such a gross level.
As for the art: it’s okay, but at this point, does it really even matter?
This comic is an absolute travesty. I cannot possibly recommend anybody spend their hard-earned money on it, nor even waste their time reading it for free online. Skip this comic at all costs – or be prepared for some righteous anger.
Heroes in Crisis #8 (of 9): The Character Assassination of…
Storyline - 1/101/10
Art - 4/104/10
Color - 5/105/10
Cover Art - 5/105/10
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