Heroes in Crisis continues to be a massive disappointment here at the Revolution. Tom King is delivering a slow and dull “big”event that has all the creativity of an average police procedural TV show. When the word “Crisis” is put in the title of a big event then along with it comes a storied history and high expectations.
It is certainly possible that King could still turn Heroes in Crisis around but it really needs to happen soon. This is only a nine issue big event and King has to finally start actually moving this story forward with a real point and purpose and actually deliver something creative and dynamic. Hopefully, Heroes in Crisis #3 can finally right the ship and steer this big event in the right direction. Let’s hit this review.
Words: Tom King
Art: Clay Mann & Lee Weeks
Colors: Tomeu Morey
Story Rating: 2 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Lagoon Boy talking to the Sanctuary camera. Lagoon Boy says his tagline and then says he has been at Sanctuary for three months. Wally West talks to the Sanctuary camera and says his tagline. Wally says he has been here for two and a half weeks. Then Booster Gold talks to the Sanctuary camera. Booster says his tagline and says that this is his first day at Sanctuary. (Riveting start. It looks like this issue is going to be just as exciting as the prior two issues.)
We cut to Lagoon Boy in the forest getting zapped by an energy beam.
We shift to Wally West in bed and placing a gold mask on his case. Wally talks to Jai (one of his children) and tells them not to be afraid. That it is just a mask. That it is still just daddy.
We zip to Booster Gold arriving at Sanctuary. The Sanctuary androids welcome Booster to the facility.
We hop back to Lagoon Boy in the forest. He gets up and then gets blasted by an energy beam again. (Jesus. We are now five pages into this issue. This is painful. Just brutally boring. I am about to slip into a narcoleptic state.)
We cut to Wally in an all white room. (Think the X-Men’s danger room.) The room transforms into a hologram of Wally’s backyard. Wally asks Sanctuary to create a hologram of Linda. Then Wally asks for holograms of his children Jai and Iris. Wally then hugs his family. (This was all already addressed by Joshua Williamson in the pages of the Flash. And in a far superior fashion as well. Just go read those issues.)
We shift to Booster Gold being given a white robe with hood and one of the golden masks to wear. (Not fucking creepy at all. What the hell kind of facility is Sanctuary? I’d walk out immediately.) The Sanctuary android tells Booster that he can wear the mask if he wants anonymity in the common areas.
Booster is then led to his room. The entire time Booster is overly positive in his comments. Once the android leaves Booster’s room then Booster takes off the mask and holds his head.
We zip back to Lagoon Boy lying on the ground in the forest. Lagoon Boy asks the Sanctuary computer how many times he has been hit by a laser. The Sanctuary computer answers thirty-seven times. Lagoon Boy says that he keeps replaying when he was with the Titans and saw Power Boy being stabbed and Little Barda screaming and then he got shot with a laser. Lagoon Boy says he replays that scene in his mind every day.
We cut to Wally West, Jai, and Iris facing off against Captain Cold. The Sanctuary computer asks if this is enough. If this is what Wally wants.
We shift to Booster Gold in the Sanctuary’s hologram room. The Sanctuary computer asks Booster Gold what scene he would like. That once Booster picks the scene that he needs to know why he is in that location. That this is part of the therapy. (Of course, this could not be delivered in the same succinct fashion in a few panels. Nope. It has to be “quippy” rambling dialogue in a one page splash shot. And talk about a spectacular waste of a single page splash shot. Sweet baby Jesus, save me.)
We hop back to Lagoon Boy standing up and getting hit by a laser again. Lagoon Boy stands back up and gets hit by another laser. Lagoon Boy says that maybe one day these blasts won’t hurt and he won’t be scared when it comes either here or later. And one day he will realize that the laser is not real. That he will realize that he is real and that it is okay. Then maybe he will just laugh or something. (I feel like this issue needs to come with a six-pack of Monster energy drinks so the reader is able to stay awake until the end.)
We cut to Wally West tucking Iris into bed. Iris mentions how it is silly that both Barry and Wally got their powers from lightning hitting some chemicals. Wally agrees.
We shift to Booster in the Sanctuary hologram room. The room is still in its generic white form. There is a hologram of Booster in a chair in front of Booster. The hologram Booster says that Booster could have imagined any scene including being in Hawaii with a Tamaranean Princess, but instead he chose this. Booster tells the hologram to stop judging him. The hologram then asks Booster what is going on with his forehead. The hologram asks if Booster is losing his hair. (Just when you thought this issue could not get any worse. This is just groan inducing. Wacky humor that is awkwardly jammed into the story.)
We cut back to Lagoon Boy turning off the laser hologram. Suddenly, an emergency alert starts and directs everyone to proceed to the nearest exit.
We zip to Wally West also hearing the emergency alert and the order to proceed to the nearest exit. Wally says, “No.” and races forward to find the problem. (This is about as heroic as you are going to see any of these characters act in this issue. Enjoy!)
We shift to Booster Gold beating up the hologram Booster Gold. Booster says that he feels better. Booster says that he likes therapy. The hologram then kicks Booster in the stomach. Booster tells the hologram that he hates him. The hologram says that Booster is as beautiful as he is bald. Booster says that he should have gone with the Tamaranean Princess in Hawaii instead. Hologram Booster says that he tried to tell Booster that. (Jesus. I think my brain just slid out of my right ear.) Suddenly, the emergency alert sounds.
We cut to Sanctuary’s front yard. We see the corpses of Hot Spot, Red Devil, and Gunfire. Suddenly, Lagoon Boy is speared through the mid section. (Possibly harpooned? Like a fish? Get it?! Hilarious!) Lagoon Boy collapses to the ground and stars to laugh before he dies. (Get it?!? He’s laughing. Just like he said he wanted to do if he really did get killed. THE THERAPY WORKED.)
We see Wally West holding Ray Harper’s corpse. Wally says “Roy…why…why did it…the kids…I didn’t want…I didn’t want to be alone.” (Hey, fans of Roy Harper! Were you all hoping to see one of the original Teen Titans get a cool heroic death scene? SUCKERS!!!!)
We then see someone sneak up behind Wally and then hit him in the head with a mallet. (Yup. Wally West. A character that is viewed by a huge percentage of current comic book readers as THE Flash. Just got killed off from behind in the most lame and unheroic death ever.)
We see that the person who attacked Wally like a coward is Harley Quinn. Booster Gold then walks up. Harley says that she did not know Booster was here. Booster replies that it is his first day. Harley asks how is it going so far. Booster says, “Well everyone’s dead.” (Nope. Nope. Nope. This is ridiculously too unbelievable.)
We cut to a final page with nine little panels with nine different characters introducing themselves to the Sanctuary camera and saying how long they have been at Sanctuary. The characters include: Commander Steel, Gunfire, Tattooed Man, Gnarrk, Red Devil (Formerly known as Kid Devil. This was actually a solid character in Young Justice and Teen Titans. That was a waste.), Protector, Poison Ivy, Solstice, and Nemesis. End of issue.
The Good: Wow. Heroes in Crisis #3 was a slow and dull read. This is no longer just a weak start to a big event. Heroes in Crisis is simply a bad story. Having said that, I must follow the Revolution’s Rule of Positivity. Let’s see, it was cool to see Wally together with Linda, Jai and Iris even if it was all just a hologram. And I liked the one page splash shot of Wally West in his Flash gear refusing to follow Sanctuary’s orders to flee the premises. All right, that’s all I got in terms of the story.
We only got one single moment of anything actually resembling plot progression. That would be the reveal of Harley Quinn as the murderer. Now, we have no idea if this is truly Harley Quinn. Or if Harley Quinn was being controlled by someone else. But, this continues the mystery that King has been teasing since the start of this story. The reader continues to be left wondering who to trust: Booster Gold or Harley Quinn.
I do like that the masks that are handed out at Sanctuary are clearly patterned after the Psycho Pirate’s mask. Psycho Pirate has a long-standing connection to the Crisis events. In fact, Grant Morrison’s work with the Psycho Pirate is the best I have ever read. I loved the fact that at the conclusion of Crisis on Infinite Earths that the Psycho Pirate was the only person who had any memory of the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths continuity after it was wiped away.
The use of the Psycho Pirate styled masks for the patients at Sanctuary may be hinting that the Psycho Pirate still has a role to be played in Heroes in Crisis. It is possible that Psycho Pirate is the mastermind behind the murders at Sanctuary. It is also possible that Psycho Pirate is controlling Harley Quinn and making her kill the patients at Sanctuary.
Heroes In Crisis #3 does have plenty of solid artwork. None of the panels really blow the reader away. But, Clay Mann and Lee Weeks combine to deliver a quality looking issue. Heroes In Crisis lacks the usual high-powered jaw dropping artwork of other “big events.” But, the ugly truth is that Heroes In Crisis is not a real Crisis event nor is it a real big event. The subdued and down-to-earth art perfectly fits the small scope and ordinary vibe of King’s story.
The Bad: Heroes in Crisis #3 was another weak issue in what is a poorly paced and plotted “big event.” This issue is rife with flaws from a technical standpoint as well as the creative direction of the story. The three biggest weaknesses of Heroes in Crisis continue to be present in this issue. Those three major weaknesses are plotting, pacing, and character work. Heroes in Crisis #3 also suffers from the fundamental flaw of this entire “big event” which is King deciding to start this entire story after the murders at Sanctuary. This is going to continue to haunt the rest of the upcoming issues.
The plotting and pacing in Heroes in Crisis #3 is atrocious. This was already a slow and plodding story in the first two issues. King doubles down on that approach by giving the reader an entire issue full of flashbacks that deliver absolutely nothing at all that resembles plot progression other than the reveal of Harley Quinn as the killer.
Heroes in Crisis #3 meanders forward with zero sense of urgency at all. King appears to have no point or purpose with this issue. King lazily wanders from page to page in a manner that lulls the reader to sleep. The lack of urgency or clear purpose robs Heroes in Crisis #3 of any power or impact on the reader.
It becomes quite evident to the reader that Heroes in Crisis #3 is not going to offer any plot progression at all. King is simply wasting time and delivering scene after scene full of fluff and filler. The pacing is so decompressed that it is clear that King never had a nine issue story in mind with Heroes in Crisis. Unfortunately, DC decided to extend this story out over nine issues. Therefore, King has resorted to dragging his feet in order to take this shallow story and make it stretch over the course of nine issue.
The first page of Heroes in Crisis #3 is pure filler designed to just waste time. There is no content to be found. We then get a single splash shot of Lagoon Boy being blasted by a laser with no dialogue or anything. We then get Barry lying in bed and putting the mask on his face. There is zero content here at all. The first three pages are hideous decompression and the reader has gotten nothing of substance.
We then burn an entire page on Booster being welcomed to Sanctuary. Seriously? This is two panels of content at the most. Then we burn another page of Lagoon Boy being blasted by a laser. That’s it. We are now five pages into the story and zero content has been delivered to the reader.
We then get Wally and hugging his hologram family. Then a page with Booster being shown to his room in Sanctuary. Now we are seven pages into the issue with absolutely no real content being given to the reader. At this point, the reader feels like an idiot for having shelled out $4 of their money for this issue.
We then get a one page scene with Lagoon Boy finally revealing why he is blasting himself with the laser over and over. This is the first sign of actual content, but it is rather empty since we know the character is already dead. So, the reader has no reason to really care about this character who comes off as a total loser.
We then get the one page of Wally, Jai, and Iris squaring off with Captain Cold. Again, this is just an empty scene. There is nothing of substance here.
We then get a “dramatic” single page splash shot of Booster Gold just standing in an empty room. Exciting use of a single page splash shot. And, again, we get no content at all. it is just Booster trying to think of what scene he wants for his hologram.
We then get Lagoon Boy getting blasted by a laser over and over. At this point, King is just hammering away at a plot point that is not that complicated or creative in the first place. Lagoon Boy’s problem is rather simple and King is just beating a dead horse at this point. This does not add anything more to Lagoon Boy’s plot-line. By beating this issue to death all King does is bore the reader and begin to make Lagoon Boy seem unintentionally comical.
We then get a one page scene of Wally tucking Iris into bed. Again, this is a standard issue scene that comes across as rote. A parent tucking a child into bed is a conventional approach to try to create an “emotional” memory that is commonly used. And it tells the reader nothing about Wally, Iris, or their relationship with each other. This is just another empty scene.
We then burn an entire page of Booster and hologram Booster engaging in witty banter. This is more pure filler. We are now thirteen pages into the issue and the reader has been presented with nothing of substance at all. King has provided very little in terms of actual content. And plot progression? Nope. None is going to be found at this point in the issue.
We then get the one page scene with Lagoon Boy’s session being terminated and Sanctuary’s emergency alarm going off. The reader is pulled from their slumber wondering if King is finally actually planning to deliver a story with this issue.
We then get a one page splash shot of Wally running as he hears the alarm go off. A nice shot, but in a story full of fluff, burning yet another full page with zero content or plot progression just becomes irritating and frustrating.
We then get the one page of Booster beating up hologram Booster and then more witty banter. This page gives us a bit of actual content as the reader sees that Booster is just angry with himself. But, it is way too little content way too late in the issue. This page continues the treading water vibe of this entire issue. The reader now sixteen pages into the issue and is still waiting for this story to actually get going and provide any real substance.
We then get the three page scene delivering Lagoon Boy’s death, which lands with a thud. It is unintentionally funny with how cheesy it is delivered. King then robs Roy Harper of any cool moments before he dies since his death still happens off panel. And then we get the anti-climactic and lame death of Wally West befitting that of a random unnamed character. This scene may have been terribly written, but at least the reader finally gets some plot progression and actual content in this issue. Too bad the reader had to wait until the very end of Heroes in Crisis #3 to get it.
King then ends Heroes in Crisis #3 with a one page scene of nine little panels showing nine different characters introducing themselves to the Sanctuary camera. This was absolutely the perfect ending to Heroes in Crisis #3. What better way to end an issue full of decompression and fluff than with a scene that lacked any content at all. A hollow ending to an empty issue. Perfection.
The lack of content in Heroes in Crisis #3 is stunning. There is no meat to this story. There is nothing here. We are three issues into this “big event’ and the story is like a large chocolate Santa Claus candy. It looks impressive in its gaudy tin foil and large physical size. But, once it is unwrapped and a bite is taken from the large chocolate a completely hollow interior is revealed. The impressive looking chocolate Santa only presents a thin layer of chocolate lacking any substance or depth.
Heroes in Crisis #3 has the “big event” moniker. It has a “big name” writer. It has “Crisis” in its title. But, once the reader opens the cover and reads the story the result is just like eating the hollow chocolate Santa. There is no substance to sustain the reader. There is no depth to engage the reader’s imagination. There is no fleshed out setting and story that captivates the reader’s attention and pulls them deeply into the story.
King only deals with the issues of trauma and mental distress in the most rudimentary and cursory fashion. Buzz words are used and conventional and rote scenes and concepts are delivered in examining the characters’ traumas. But, it is all on the surface. It is all done with little creativity or originality. There is no true emotion or nuance to these issues. Everything remains on the surface as King pays lip service to the weighty issues that Heroes in Crisis claims to handle.
The result is that the reader never feels engaged by this shallow story. The reader never feels any emotional connection with any of the characters. The reader never gets lost in the setting of this story.
Any of the impact on the reader is robbed by the basic construction of this story. We already know that all of these characters are dead. There is zero tension. There is zero energy.
A major part of this problem was King’s decision to start Heroes in Crisis after the murders had taken place much like the approach of a conventional police procedural TV show. The result is that the reader already knows that these characters are dead. We already know generally why the characters were at Sanctuary and that they all were murdered.
Therefore, when Heroes in Crisis #3 rolls around its story is completely robbed of all of its tension and its impact on the reader. Imagine if Heroes in Crisis #3 had been the story in Heroes in Crisis #1. Imagine how stunning, electric, and impactful this story would have been on the reader. The tension would have been crackling off every page.
However, because of King’s decision on how to structure the story, the reader already knew everything before it happened. The reader already knows all about Sanctuary, we know why the characters are there and we know that they all get murdered. Therefore, the reader ho-hums their way through this issue and views it nothing more than time-wasting filler. The reader is never shocked or surprised. There is zero tension at all in any of the scenes. The reason is because the reader knows exactly what is coming.
The character work and the dialogue were both unimpressive. King’s dialogue vacillates between bland at best and cheesy at worst. None of the characters have anything resembling unique external voices. Booster gets the generic rambling “Indie” style voice complete with poorly timed jokes that are delivered in inappropriate moments that serve to pull the reader out of the moment. Wally gets as bland a voice as humanly possible.
The character work is non-existent in this issue. The characters are either simple caricatures or they are mere lifeless dolls that mechanically make their way through their scenes. None of the characters possess a well-developed personality or any depth or texture at all.
King’s Lagoon Boy was a total miss. I know exactly what King was trying to do with Lagoon Boy’s character in Heroes in Crisis #3. But, the fact is that King completely overplayed his rather simple idea for Lagoon Boy’s character. The result is that Lagoon Boy comes across as an unsympathetic dope. Therefore, at the end of this issue the reader either has no reaction to Lagoon Boy’s death or unintentionally chuckles at the cheesy laughing moment that Lagoon Boy has before he has is predictable death.
King’s Booster Gold continue to be unimpressive. It seems that King’s only research to write Booster’s character including him reading Booster’s Wikipedia page. King’s Booster is nothing more than a basic caricature of Booster’s character. There is no depth or nuance to Booster’s character. All the incredible character growth that Booster has experienced since 52 has been completely wiped away by King. Booster is a basic joke machine who continuously reacts in idiotic fashion to the events around him.
Booster’s reaction to seeing all of the dead heroes and then witnessing Harley kill Wally was silly. Booster’s blank reaction and engaging in mindless banter makes him look idiotic and not the true hero that he has been for years. It is an unrealistic reaction that is yet another moment in this issue that rips the reader out of the story.
King’s Wally West is as bland and generic as possible. It is quite obvious that King has little understanding or interest in Wally’s character. King demonstrates little knowledge or touch for Wally’s character. King gives the reader the bare essentials of Wally’s character in this issue. What a person who knows nothing about the character would deliver. Devoid of any true emotion or creativity.
Now, let’s talk about the deaths that we get to see in this issue. There are only two murders that we get to see take place: Lagoon Boy and Wally West. The rest still happen off panel. Because fridging.
Lagoon Boy’s death was goofy. King spent way too much time hammering home Lagoon Boy’s fear. And having Lagoon Boy say that hopefully he can laugh about it one day and then have him laughing right before he dies was just way too cheesy. King never presents Lagoon Boy as much more than a joke and the reader ends up unintentionally chuckling at Lagoon Boy laughing before he dies.
Now let’s talk about Roy Harper’s death. Roy Harper is a big character in the DCU with an amazing history and pedigree. Roy’s character has been around since 1941. Roy was also one of the original Teen Titans joining the team in Teen Titans #19 in 1969. Roy Harper is certainly a character that demands to be handled with respect regardless if the writer does not know anything at all about the character and does not care at all about the character. The writer owes this duty to the character and the readers.
Roy’s death is not delivered in this issue. Instead, Roy is relegated to an undramatic off panel death befitting of a minor supporting cast character. Roy does not get any purposeful or meaningful heroic death. Roy’s death is nothing more than a basic plot device only designed to elicit an emotional reaction from the heroes in order to set the story of revenge in motion. Yup. Roy’s death is textbook fridging. It is so uncreative and lazy.
Next is the even bigger death and an even bigger mistake. Let’s talk about Wally West. Look, DC Comics is absolutely free to kill off whatever character they desire. Fans do not own these characters. DC does. And, plus, we all know that no deaths are permanent. Period. Bucky and Jason Todd are proof that death will never have meaning in the world of Marvel and DC comics. We all know that it is only a matter of time before Wally West is resurrected at some point.
Having said that, just because death has little meaning in the world of comics does not mean that a character’s death should not be handled properly. And the death should be handled respectfully both to the character and to the reader. King fails miserably at that with Wally West’s death.
Before we examine Wally’s death we first need to examine Wally’s character. Wally West was THE Flash from 1986-2009. That is an impressive 23 year run. Barry’s run as THE Flash was from 1956-1986. So Wally only lags behind Barry as being THE Flash by seven years. Personally, Barry Allen has always been THE Flash to me. But, I fully acknowledge that for a large percentage of current comic book readers that Wally West is THE Flash for them.
This is important. I realize that Dan Didio may not view Wally West as an important character. And I realize that Geoff Johns may view Barry Allen as THE Flash. And I realize that Tom King might not give a shit about Wally West’s character at all. But, that does not change the fact that for a massive percentage of comic book readers Wally West is THE Flash.
Those comic book readers are owed a proper handling of Wally’s character and a proper death for Wally’s character. Wally’s character itself, being one of the biggest characters in the DCU for decades, also warrants the respect of a proper death.
So what kind of death does a character of Wally West’s stature receive? Is it a heroic one like what Barry Allen was given back in 1986? One that played to Barry’s true selfless heroic nature? Nope. What does King give Wally? A death where he gets hit in the head from behind. Fucking amazing.
Wally West’s death is as pathetic and lame as you are going to find in comics. Especially for a character of Wally’s statute. This was such an anti-climactic death. Harley sneaks up from behind like a coward and hits Wally in the end. End of Wally’s story. The End.
I could not think of a more lame and ridiculous manner in which to kill off a character like Wally West. It is genuinely stunning how dumb and awful Wally’s death is in this issue. This death neither serves Wally’s character or the fans. Nor does Wally’s death serve the story at all. Poor Wally got fridged. His death was meaningless. Wally’s death serves only as a cheap plot device to create the emotional response for our heroes to go on their mission of vengeance. Pure fridging.
Overall: Heroes in Crisis #3 is another slow, dull and shallow read. This “big event” is turning out to be a massive disappointment. I would only recommend this issue to massive Tom King fans. For everyone else? Save your hard-earned money. There are so many vastly superior super hero titles currently on the market that are worth your money.
I suppose that King could still turn Heroes in Crisis around with the next issue. But, we are rapidly approaching the midway point to this story. And I am not sure how King can rise about the basic flaw in the storytelling by starting after the dramatic events at Sanctuary and keeping so much off panel.
Three issues is a fair sample amount for a nine issue mini-series in order to render a relatively good predication on the remainder of this story. King would have to suddenly create far more depth to the story, focus his plotting, pick up the pace and deliver more compelling character work for Heroes in Crisis to turn the tide and become a quality “big event.”