Heroes in Crisis by Tom King

Heroes in Crisis – Comic Book Review and Summary

Heroes in Crisis by author Tom King and illustrator Clay Mann

The spoiler free review of this DC comic book has been separated from the full summary to keep you safe if you don’t want to know what happens yet!

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Spoiler Free Review

Tom King is a highly respected author in the comic books world. I’ve truly loved nearly everything I’ve read of his. The one exception being his stint on Green Lantern and that’s just because I know nothing of that character and felt pretty lost. So Tom King does what he does best here in Heroes in Crisis. He takes an unknown or lesser known character, in this case Booster Gold, and puts them in a creative and poignant story that we’ve never seen before.

He also uses this 9 pannel format that he loves so much:

Harley Quinn in Heroes in Crisis
Harley Quinn in Heroes in Crisis

You can see Harley Quinn confessing to a robot therapist in an undisclosed location known only as sanctuary. This is where superheroes come to spill their hearts out and get help for all of the trauma they accrue as the front line for safety in the DC universe.

The book begins with many of these confessions but none of them are about the crisis at hand. The main trio of the Justice League has discovered a pile of dead superheroes outside of sanctuary and must determined who is responsible.

Harley Quinn is certain she saw Booster Gold do it, Booster is convinced he saw Harley do it. What really happened here?

Although the main plot is a murder mystery the bulk of the book focuses on what it’s actually like to be a superhero after they swoop in to save the day. These individuals are often praised for saving lives but they also have to deal with the lives who aren’t saved. The damage that is done to their psyches from not being able to save everyone and the media backlash that comes with errors or accidents.

They’re damaged, they are heroes in crisis, and they need help. But Batman can’t just walk into a therapist’s office. So he created sanctuary. It’s supposed to be secret and anonymous but everyone knows that secrets always get leaked. How will the populace react to their saviors being flawed?

Tom King is especially good at diving into the feelings behind the characters. He brings an extra dimension to these well known figures and shows us a side we’ve never seen before. Heroes in Crisis powerfully demonstrates that even if these characters aren’t fully human they are defined by their humanity.

5/5 heroes πŸ¦ΈπŸ½β€β™€οΈπŸ¦ΈπŸ½β€β™€οΈπŸ¦ΈπŸ½β€β™€οΈπŸ¦ΈπŸ½β€β™€οΈπŸ¦ΈπŸ½β€β™€οΈ

Heroes in Crisis Summary

The first issue of Heroes in Crisis opens with Harley Quinn fighting a hero named Booster Gold. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are faced with a pile of dead superheroes in a field. And pages upon pages of superheroes confessing sins and secrets to an unknown listener.

Harley and Booster are both certain they saw the other one kill all of those heroes. The Justice League must determine what actually happened.

This confessional is known as the sanctuary. It’s a remote house where a robot therapist has been set up to allow superheroes to vent their problems away from the populace. You can’t let citizens know that their heroes are all damaged but they really do need some help for themselves.

This program was set up to be solitary and anonymous. There is supposed to be no record of anyone’s sessions and anyone who stays there can disguise themselves if they’d prefer. There are some staying for extended stays and some just drop by to use the simulation rooms to work through their traumas with a more hands on approach.

In parallel flashbacks we see that Booster Gold used these simulations to fight himself. Harley used it in conjunction with Poison Ivy.

Lois Lane starts receiving videos of the confessions at sanctuary. These were supposed to be destroyed, no one should have them, they shouldn’t exist. She prizes her journalistic integrity and decides to publish a story about it even if it would damage her boyfriend Superman. He keeps it a secret that he knew anything about it until after the story leaked due to his loyalty to her.

After a lot of infighting Harley, Booster, Batgirl, and Blue Beetle decide to team up to get to the bottom of what happened. It’s good to keep in mind that sometimes Harley and Batgirl are friends. Heroes in Crisis mostly stands on its own but as with all comic books there are plenty of tie ins to unrelated issues.

harley quinn and batgirl hugging
harley quinn and batgirl hugging

Then the reader gets to see Wally West’s, Flash’s, confession. He was feeling alone and isolated after his family was killed. He just wanted to feel like he could relate to anyone and that anyone understood his pain. So he used his super speed to put together all of the corrupted data of the confessional recordings.

In an attempt to feel like someone understood his own pain he got bombarded with everyone else’s pain. He absorbed all of the anguish from all of these heroes and just snapped. In the big empty field surrounding sanctuary he killed several heroes. He panicked and quickly set up both Harley and Booster.

flash kills everyone in Heroes in Crisis
flash kills everyone in Heroes in Crisis

He hoped that making them both believe they saw the other commit the act everyone would be too confused to ever suspect him. Just to double make sure of this he faked his death and then sat back to watch everything play out.

Guilt got the better of him and he confessed but now there’s a new problem. As is the case with a lot of Flash plots things get complicated and weird. In order to fake his death he needed a Flash from a different part of their timeline. Now there are two Flashes in this present so current Flash must kill future Flash to get everything back to normal and avoid any strange time paradoxes or something. (This is why I don’t read Flash comics).

flash and flash hugging
flash and flash hugging

In the end Wally West goes to prison for his crimes. Sanctuary is rebuilt without as much secrecy. The public is now aware that their supers have PTSD and need help just like anyone else. That’s okay, it’s good to get help, we all need to recognize that.

The brilliance of Heroes in Crisis is in the analysis of the mental health of front line workers. This is of course, what the comic book is really talking about. We all think of some individuals as immune to the stress of their difficult positions. But the truth is that no one is above feeling the pain that comes with putting yourself in danger to save someone else. And worse, still losing that life.

5/5 heroes πŸ¦ΈπŸ½β€β™€οΈπŸ¦ΈπŸ½β€β™€οΈπŸ¦ΈπŸ½β€β™€οΈπŸ¦ΈπŸ½β€β™€οΈπŸ¦ΈπŸ½β€β™€οΈ

FAQ

How many issues in Heroes in Crisis?

9 issues

Did Poison Ivy die in Heroes in Crisis?

Yes. Poison Ivy was on of the heroes found dead at the beginning of the comic book. However, she is brought back at the end for a reunion with Harley Quinn.

What happened to Wally West is Heroes in Crisis?

Wally West confesses his crimes and accepts his punishment. One version is erased from the timeline and the other one goes to prison.

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