Heroes in Crisis has gone from dull and boring to being just a dumpster fire. This is the slowest, most shallow, and dull big event that I have ever read from either Marvel or DC. This is only a nine issue big event. If Tom King does not turn the ship around with Heroes in Crisis #4 then the odds of this big event suddenly gaining steam and transforming into a quality big event becomes highly unlikely. Let’s hope for the best and hit this review for Heroes in Crisis #4.
Words: Tom King
Art: Clay Mann
Colors: Tomeu Morey
Story Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Tempest in a dive bar (get it?!) drinking. Tempest then passes out drunk at the bar. Donna Troy arrives and slings Tempest over her shoulder and carries him home.
We shift to Donna at Sanctuary talking to the camera. Donna talks about the City of Troy and whether it truly existed or not. (Four pages into the issue. Such an amazingly riveting start. Again. The hits just keep coming with this big event.)
We shift to Barry Allen and Batman investigating the crime scene at Sanctuary. They both say it is obvious who the killer is. Barry says that it is Booster. Batman says that it is Harley. Barry then curses. (Barry is stunningly blasé considering Wally West has just been murdered. Brilliant meticulously crafted realism and character. The hallmark of Heroes in Crisis.)
We cut to Booster Gold being held in a room. Wonder Woman is in the room, too. Booster holds the Golden Lasso. Booster then says that he is not the killer. That Harley Quinn is the killer.
Wonder Woman asks why Booster’s shield failed. Booster says that he does not know why the shield failed. Booster says that after he woke up he flew away from the crime scene.
We cut to Lois Lane and Superman getting into bed with each other. (I approve of Lois’ outfit of small red underwear bottoms like what Superman wears over his costume plus a blue shirt with Superman’s logo on it.) Lois asks Clark what she should do with the information eventually from the Puddlers about Sanctuary. Lois says that every day the Puddlers send her a new confession. Lois says that if she does nothing with the information that eventually the Puddlers will send it to another reporter who will publish the information. Clark answers that he does not know what to do.
We zip to Batgirl in front of the Sanctuary camera. She says nothing for 6 panels. (Riveting.) She then shows her bullet wound scar on the front of her and then the bullet exit wound scar on her back.
We shift to Batgirl arriving in a House of Mirrors where Harley Quinn is hiding out. Harley attacks Batgirl. Batgirl says that she is trying to help Harley. Batgirl says that eventually Batman is going to find Harley. Batgirl says that Batman will view Harley the same way that he views Batgirl: Broken and pitiful. Another product of Batman’s failure to capture the Joker. That Batman will make assumptions about what she can and cannot do. Batgirl says that she knows that Harley is hurting. Batgirls says that wanted to find Harley first so they could both figure it out together. Harley stops fighting Batgirl. Batgirl and Harley then hug each other.
We cut to Green Arrow and Black Canary dramatically standing on the edge of a cliff with the ocean breaking on the rocks beneath. (Ummm….oooookay…) Oliver has his bow drawn. Someone calls Oliver on his earpiece and tells him that they are having a disagreement over if it is Booster or Harley being the killer. Oliver snaps for them to solve the problem or Oliver will kill both Harley and Booster and let God sort it out. (See…now this is how Barry should be reacting to Wally’s death. The same way Oliver is reacting to Roy’s death.)
We shift to Black Canary sitting in front of the Sanctuary camera. Dinah says, “Screw this.” and then gets up and leaves. We then get six panels of nothing. (Blinks incredulously. Then stares into the abyss and contemplates why I spent money on a comic with panels that literally contain nothing.)
We zip back to the Hall of Justice where Booster Gold is being kept locked up in jail cell. We see the real Blue Beetle in the room with Booster Gold. (MOTHER FUCKING TED KORD, BITCHES!!! Accept no substitutes!) Booster says that he is innocent. Blue Beetle believes Booster.
Ted says that they should get out of here. Ted says that they should fix this. Together. Blue and Gold. (Blue and Gold, baby!) Booster says that they want him to stay here. That the Justice League and more specifically the Trinity want him to stay here.
Suddenly, the wall to the room explodes and the Blue Beetle ship appears on the scene. Ted says that he agrees with Justice League. That Booster needs to face what they have. But, then Ted remembered the code. “Bros before Heroes.” Booster Gold and Blue Beetle then bump fists. (Fuck. Yes.)
We cut to Blue Beetle talking to the Sanctuary camera. Blue Beetle says that heroes get hurt and die over and over and over. And that you never get used to it. Ted says that he has a friend: Booster Gold. That when things get tough that Ted can always call Booster and Booster will be there for him.
We then zip over to the Bat-cave. Batman tells Wonder Woman that Ted Kord just helped Booster Gold escape. That Kord Industries helped build the Hall of Justice so it was easy for Ted to get past the defenses. Wonder Woman punches the wall out of frustration.
Superman then reveals that Lois has been getting videos of Sanctuary confessions. Batman says that it impossible. That every piece of data from Sanctuary is deleted and scattered. Superman says that he has seen the videos. That they are real.
Superman says he has known about this for a few days. Batman is pissed and says that Superman should have immediately told him about the videos. That they should have already investigated this.
Wonder Woman asks when Lois is going to break the story. Superman replies that Lois is broke the story about 35 seconds ago. We see Lois’ story appearing on the Daily Planet’s website.
We shift to Batgirl and Harley Quinn. Batgirl receives the news about Lois’ Sanctuary story hitting the internet. Batgirl says that Lois’ story is going to change the world. Harley Quinn says fuck the world. It needs changing. (Kind of like how I am thinking fuck this big event?) End of issue.
The Good: Heroes in Crisis #4 is another dreadfully slow, shallow and boring read. Having said that, there is definitely some positives to this issue. Namely the two pages of brilliance that we get with Team Blue and Gold. Honestly, the only part of Heroes in Crisis #4 worth reading are those two pages and the one page Blue Beetle scene at Sanctuary.
I adore Ted Kord and Booster Gold. They are one of the greatest buddy teams of all-time. King’s take on Booster Gold may suck, but his take on Blue Beetle is fantastic. King appears to have a better feel for Ted’s character.
The chemistry between Ted and Booster is excellent. These two characters feel so natural with each other. The bond that they share comes across as genuine. King also manages to mix in just the right amount of humor and seriousness in this scene so that Team Blue and Gold are taken seriously despite their obvious comedic roots.
Rebirth continues to rip away the New 52 continuity as King introduces even more pre-Flashpoint DCU in Heroes in Crisis #4. Ted Kord as the Blue Beetle was completely wiped away by the New 52. During the New 52’s reign of terror, Ted was nothing more than a bit player making rare cameo appearances.
Since Rebirth, DC has delivered an older version of Ted Kord more inline with what we got in the pre-Flashpoint DCU continuity. DC also had Ted allude to him operating as the Blue Beetle at some point in the past. However, with Heroes in Crisis #4, King shows us Ted Kord actively operating as the Blue Beetle for the first time since Flashpoint. I do not have the words to describe how awesome it was to see Ted back as the Blue Beetle. It just feels right.
But, that was not all of the pre-Flashpoint DCU continuity that got reintroduced. In the one page scene with Ted talking to the Sanctuary camera, King has Ted talk about dying and coming back to life. This is a reference to Maxwell Lord killing Ted in Countdown to Infinite Crisis. This is a big revelation as DC continues to re-introduce their pre-Flashpoint DCU continuity.
King also offers a bit of plot development with the revelation that Booster Gold is not the Sanctuary murderer. What is interesting is that the scene in Heroes in Crisis #2 made it difficult to tell if Harley was actually holding the Golden Lasso when she stated that she was not the murderer. In Heroes in Crisis #4, King makes it clearly obvious that Booster is holding the Golden Lasso while stating that he is not the killer.
At this point, King is clearly making Harley seem like the main suspect for the Sanctuary murders. However, I think we are still in store for a big swerve. There is no way that King is going to end with the painfully obvious reveal of Harley as the murderer.
Clay Mann and Tomeu Morey combine to deliver plenty more quality artwork. The art in Heroes in Crisis has been solid and dependable with each issue. Heroes in Crisis #4 is no different.
The Bad: Heroes in Crisis #4 is another abysmal issue. King clearly had a four issue mini-series in mind with Heroes in Crisis. Either DC’s editorial staff or King made the poor decision to stretch out this story over nine issues. It is painfully obvious that King did not have the story depth or content necessary to properly fill nine issues.
Heroes in Crisis #4 is plagued by the same chronic defects as the prior issues. The plotting and pacing continue to be awful. The character work is suspect. The story is shallow. We are now almost at the halfway point of this big event. I do not think it is realistic to expect these defects to suddenly disappear with the remainder of this big event.
Plotting and pacing is a joke. This story continues to be ridiculously slow and decompressed. King doles out the plot progression in a miserly fashion. This issue offers a paucity of actual new content for the reader.
King begins Heroes in Crisis #1 with one page scene of Tempest passing out drunk. This is followed by a double page splash shot of Donna carrying Tempest home. That is it. Three pages into the issue and the reader gets absolutely nothing in terms of content.
I also remain mystified by how King believes a double page splash shot should be utilized in an issue. King easily has the trend of writing the worst double page splash shots that I have ever seen in the comic book industry outside of a Brian Bendis issue. I would hate to be an artist for King.
We then get a page of Donna babbling to the Sanctuary camera about the City of Troy. This is pure filler. It does nothing to enhance or advance the story. Nor does it do anything to enhance Donna’s character.
King then delivers a one page scene of Batman and Barry Allen disagreeing as to the identity of the killer. This is nothing more than stalling for time. We already know that there are only two suspects for the Sanctuary murders. And we already know that nobody knows if Booster or Harley is the guilty one. This is a shallow time-wasting scene.
We then get a two page scene of Booster Gold holding the Golden Lasso and stating his innocence. Finally, King delivers some actual plot progression. It is not much plot progression, but at this point, I will gladly take whatever crumbs that King is doling out to us. Too bad that the reader has to wait five pages before getting anything resembling some plot progression.
King then gives us a two page scene of Lois and Clark. Once again, this scene is nothing more than blatant stalling. There is little actual content here. We already know that Lois has been getting information from the Puddlers. This scene does nothing to move that simple plot line forward.
Next is a one page scene of Batgirl in front of Sanctuary camera. This is another time waster. The best part is having to sit through six panels of Batgirl just sitting there saying nothing. Riveting. I think that King needs to go back and read Alan Moore’s Watchmen to truly understand how this nine panel single page format is properly used.
Also, everyone under the sun knows about Joker shooting Batgirl. The tiny bit of information reminding readers that the Joker shot Batgirl could have easily and seamless been rolled into the following scene. This would have eliminated a useless time-wasting scene and made the following scene even more impactful.
King then gives us a four page scene with Batgirl and Harley. Hey! Look at that! Some actual plot progression! We have not gotten any of that since the Wonder Woman/Booster Gold scene. Unfortunately, it is not that much plot progression and this scene is delivered in the same unnecessarily slow and drawn out manner as the rest of the story. But, hey, at least we have the introduction of Batgirl into the story and the teaming up of Batgirl and Harley to help prove Harley’s innocence.
We then get a one page scene with Oliver and Black Canary. We get some nice emotion from Oliver. But, once again, the story is stuck in neutral. We get no actual content or plot progression. This scene just recycles the same information from the earlier scene with Batman and Barry disagreeing about the identity of the Sanctuary killer. Therefore, the scene just comes across as filler.
Again, King could have been smart and more economical and rolled this scene into the scene with Batman and Barry disagreeing about the identity of the Sanctuary murderer. We could have gotten the emotion from Oliver and he could have been angry with both Batman and Barry at the same time. That would make for a better paced and plotted story that allows the scenes to have more impact.
We then get a one page scene with Black Canary talking to the Sanctuary camera. It is nine panels with just one panel having dialogue and six panels being literally blank with nothing in them. This is beyond awful. Seriously, King needs to go back and read Moore’s Watchmen. King clearly does not understand how to properly use the nine panel one page format.
Having said that, I did appreciate this scene for one reason. This single page is such a wonderful microcosm of Heroes in Crisis itself. Slow, lacking in content, and dull. Bravo.
King then delivers a two page scene with Booster Gold and Blue Beetle. This scene is fantastic and easily the shining moment of Heroes in Crisis #4. This scene offers excellent plot progression and some cool continuity work. This scene was so tightly plotted and paced. It is unfortunate that King cannot give us more scenes like this one.
We then get a one page scene with Blue Beetle talking to the Sanctuary camera. This was another nice scene that re-introduced some more pre-Flashpoint continuity. The best part of this scene was the excellent character work with Ted Kord and his relationship with Booster.
King then realizes that he was actually delivering some plot progression so he slams on the brakes with the three page scene in the Bat-cave. We get zero plot progression as King just recycles the information about the Puddlers sending information about Sanctuary to Lois.
We then get the one page scene of Lois’ article appearing on the Daily Planet’s website. This is not an exciting scene, but at least it finally moves this plot line along. I appreciate any and all plot progression at this point in the story. Having said that, this is another lame one page splash shot. This could have been delivered in one panel rather than wasting an entire page.
King then ends the issue with a one page scene of Batgirl and Harley getting the news of Lois’s story breaking the news about Sanctuary. This is an utterly pointless scene that only serves to end Heroes in Crisis #4 with a predictable thud.
The character work in Heroes in Crisis #4 is lackluster. The only good character work is what King does with Ted Kord. Outside of that, the characters are all presented in the same bland manner that we have received in the prior issues of this big event.
Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman move through their scenes in a mechanical fashion. There is little actual personality as these characters stick closely to their generic interpretations. The result is there is no chemistry at all when the Trinity are together.
Barry Allen is unimpressive as he has been for this entire story. Barry continues to be oddly unemotional about Wally’s death. King choosing Barry to provide the comedic relief in his scene was Batman was a completely baffling choice. This was yet another discordant moment where the comedic relief did not fit either the moment or the character.
Harley and Batgirl play the roles of generic “damaged females” without any real unique personalities or depth to their characters. There is no chemistry between the two characters. The entire pairing comes across as forced and awkward.
The dialogue is also average at best. The only moments of quality dialogue is in the scene between Booster and Ted. Outside of that the dialogue is bland. All of the characters possess generic external voices.
Heroes in Crisis #4 delivers another shallow issue. King’s story continues to be completely on the surface. There continues to be no depth to this story at all. There is no complexity in any of these plot lines. King keeps the number of plot lines to a bare minimum and keeps each plot line basic and simple.
The result is that there continues to be very little actual meat on the bone with this story. King continues to pay mere lip service to complex and substantive issues like post traumatic distress and abuse rather than actually delving into these weighty topics. Everything continues to be right on the surface. King lazily gives the reader nothing more than the trappings of a “serious” story by using the right buzz words and hinting at the much larger and complex issues.
The supposed impact of the murders on the heroes in this story continues to be a complete miss. These deaths continue to be nothing more than simple fridging. The deaths of these various characters like Wally and Roy have had virtually zero impact on any of the characters.
At this point, all we have gotten is one page of Tempest drinking himself into a stupor over the deaths of his two old teammates and then two panels with Green Arrow threatening to kill Harley and Booster. That is it. It has been so underwhelming. The result is that these deaths feel like pure plot devices, hence the fridging term, designed to kick this story off with the first issue and for no other purpose.
Once the story has gotten moving these deaths continue to have less and less importance and continue to have no impact on the various main characters. This handling of the deaths not only makes them seem like simple fridging but it also helps rob Heroes in Crisis #4 of any of its power or emotion.
Overall: Heroes in Crisis #4 is another lifeless issue. King’s story is shallow and thin delivered in a painfully decompressed manner. I have no idea why anyone other than the most die-hard Tom King fans would bother wasting their hard-earned money on Heroes in Crisis. I would strongly recommend saving your money for much higher quality big event stories like what Geoff Johns is delivering over on Doomsday Clock.