“Heroes In Crisis” – Part One
Artists: Clay Mann & Tomeu Morey
Superhero comics have been a part of our lives for eight decades now. They started off as simple throw-away entertainment for a world that was transitioning from global financial depression, into a new age of industry and technological growth. Then the second world war came along and these magazines drew in politics and satire, but still in a way that was just meant to entertain.
Over time these simple stories became more complex, as readers became more demanding. A monster that would appear just to attack our favorite hero in a couple of panels back in the Golden Age of comic-books, would have issue upon issue of history and backstory thrust upon it in the modern comics of today.
In those simpler times a hero would get into a scrap, take a licking, but keep on ticking. The most these characters would suffer would be scrapes, bumps and bruises. In fact, apart from tragic origins, our favorite comics heroes only ever seemed to suffer in terms of bodily injuries. Thinking logically; wouldn’t having been physically broken at the hands of Bane have just as much of an effect on Batman psychologically as it did physically? Wouldn’t dying at Doomsday’s hand, then returning to life, not affect the Man Of Steel’s mind as much as the trauma of death, and resurrection impacted his body?
Seeing sidekicks, friends, lovers, or even enemies die would traumatise even the strongest human being in the world. Heroes have always been expected to get into battles, heal and carry on. Little, if anything, has ever been shown about the emotional effects on a costumed crime-fighter’s psyche that living the life of a superhero can lead to… until now.
A Superhero Sanctuary
The Medusa Mask; an artefact known to both drain and manipulate human emotion. The Psycho-Pirate’s mask has even kept the memory and physical forms of those long dead in it’s recesses. Coupled with Kryptonian A.I. and state of the art (comics) technology, the mask had most recently been put to good use, helping the world’s superhuman community recover from emotional trauma. Together they had the ability to calm the mind and spirit, as well as create environments conducive to healing, as Sanctuary.
In this first issue of Heroes In Crisis we find out that something has gone horribly wrong… this could be the single greatest under-statement in the history of comics reviews.
Writer Tom King, artist Clay Mann, colorist Tomeu Morey and letterer Clayton Cowles have given us a comic to fire our imaginations, and fuel our nightmares. The pages where these characters bare their souls to Sanctuary (to US) are stunning, both verbally and visually. The pain is Superman’s voice is palpable in the text, and in the look on his face. The combination of words and pictures in this issue is simply comics storytelling at its pinnacle.
Harley Quinn has almost always been written as cooky, but after reading this issue I can genuinely believe that she is criminally insane.
Batman Superman and Wonder Woman, the fathers and mother of ALL comics heroes, bear witness to events that have had a deep emotional impact on all of them, and on me too. Yes, even after over four decades reading comics this issue has surprised, shocked and terrified me. The ramifications of what happened in the pages of this issue will have a long lasting effect on DC Comics, and its readers, for months, or even years to come.
I will never look at crows and ravens the same way again.
Having conversed with colleagues here at Dark Knight News and our sister site DC Comics News (whom, like me, have been fortunate enough to read this amazing comic before it hits the shelves) opinions have varied greatly. For some this issue has been nothing but a publicity stunt, but for most – myself included – it was much more than that. It was a well thought out, layered and beautiful (harrowing but, yes, beautiful) essay on the human condition, played out by comics heroes.
Yes, this is fantasy, yes this is drama, but this is as well crafted a drama as any I’ve seen on screen… in fact, it’s better than most.
I cannot wait to see what the next eight issues bring.
Images Courtesy Of DC Entertainment