Heroes In Crisis is an event that got the majority of the DC Comics fanbase talking about from the time the first issue released. The murder at Sanctuary, that initially happened off-screen, created as many questions as it did controversy. As Tom King slowly had the superheroes deal with the latest Crisis we were led to the discovery that Wally West was responsible for the murdering almost everyone at Sanctuary. Now that Heroes In Crisis is over it is time for us to look back at everything that happened and what went wrong with DC Comics latest big event.
EXPLORING THE WEIGHT OF THE SUPERHERO LIFE
With everything that we see our favorite superheroes fight and go through it is understandable the majority, if not all, of them deal with PTSD. Through the confidentials that Tom King wrote in each issue of Heroes In Crisis we got to see everyone from Batman to Harley Quinn to Blue Jay at some point. Showing that both A-List to Z-List hero dealt with similar fallout from all their adventures was a strong narrative that should’ve helped ground Heroes In Crisis.
The key thing is that this part of Heroes In Crisis should have grounded the entire event. But instead King at many points in the story used the confessionals to reiterate the same point over and over again. Once we got to the third issue of Heroes In Crisis there was no new insight given through these confessionals. They stopped being unique to the characters talking. Instead they all blended together to the point everyone came across as one person wearing different costume.
There was a very simple solution that King himself introduced early on in Heroes In Crisis that would’ve fixed all this. And that was the fact that the secret of Sanctuary’s existence was revealed to the world. Not only that, but all the confessionals that these superheroes thought was private was released to the public. From there King should’ve shifted focus to the reaction of these superheroes who stayed at Sanctuary to recover at some point. We should’ve seen the reaction of those close to all these heroes, specifically those that died at Sanctuary, dealing with PTSD. It would’ve given greater importance to when we saw each hero sit down for these confessionals where they poured their heart.
RAMIFICATIONS OF KEEPING SECRETS
That gets to the next big problem that should’ve been the strength of Heroes In Crisis. The existence of Sanctuary and the confessionals being released was a big moment in the pages of Heroes In Crisis. Unfortunately this act, which we learn was done by Wally West, was never fully explored. The most Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman had to deal with in terms of fallout was have to release a statement at a press conference and get punched by Green Arrow at Roy Harper’s funeral, which did not happen in the main series.
From there King completely dropped this part of the plot. There was no ramifications for keeping Sanctuary a secret and the deaths that took place. The superhero community, governments or the public did not have Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman answer Sanctuary being kept a secret. On top of that Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman intended to keep the mass murder at Sanctuary, at least until they solve the mystery of who did it, a secret from as many people as possible. They only went public when Wally West released the information on Sanctuary to journalists like Lois Lane.
All of these secrets being revealed should’ve opened Heroes In Crisis up to explore the dangers of such things being held under wraps. In the process we should have seen DC’s Trinity and the superhero community at large had to deal with these consequences. It would’ve added a layer to Heroes In Crisis that it desperately needed as the focus narrowed on Wally West being revealed as the killer.
SUPERHERO COMMUNITY FAILS TO ACT
That all highlighted the fact that the superhero community as a whole failed to deal with a Crisis that rocked the core of community. Trust was broken with the revelation of Sanctuary’s existence. But rather than react we just had a bunch of different characters just standing around for the majority of Heroes In Crisis. That is completely unrealistic given the Crisis at hand. This was a time the heroes from all corners should’ve gotten involved in since the Trinity held information from them. Even if they weren’t united this is something that affect more than just the Trinity.
At the end of the day the only heroes that acted in some way was Batman, Flash, Batgirl, Harley Quinn, Booster Gold and Blue Beetle. That is an extremely small fraction of the characters that should’ve had involvement in discovering Wally West was the killer who covered things up. Characters like Green Arrow, Aquaman and Blue Devil had direct relations to those killed by the Speed Force accident Wally had. Instead the only one that we saw deal with this was Tempest, who decided to get drunk until Donna Troy found him and carried him out of the bar.
That made the fact there were a lot of points where characters just stood around posing even more obvious. At various points the story of Heroes of Crisis came across as a chance to draw characters like Batgirl standing in a way they would for a statue. It halted momentum that the dialogue desperately needed.
WHERE WERE DC UNIVERSE’S VILLAINS?
With the superhero community thrown into chaos it was odd that at no point did King try to show how the villains of the DCU taking advantage of this situation. This would’ve been the perfect chance to explore the larger ramifications of a weakened superhero community on the villains side. With the Justice League and other teams distracted King could’ve integrated some of the Year of the Villain elements into the story. Afterall, what villain wouldn’t take advantage of characters like Batman and Flash not having their full attention in Gotham City or Central City.
Adding this element to Heroes In Crisis would’ve given further emphasis to how big of an event this was. And this all could’ve been done in a way King didn’t distract from the main plotline. It would’ve enhanced the serious ramifications of what happened at Sanctuary. At the same time, this could’ve been an opportunity to add more realism since this is an event villains like those in the Legion of Doom, Leviathan and HIVE would take full advantage of.
WALLY WEST’S COVER UP
From the moment that Wally West was revealed as the murderer at Sanctuary to the reader there was a lot off about this. One of the biggest problems was the fact that Wally West purposely covered up that he was responsible and made Booster Gold and Harley Quinn believe they each did it. From the moment that Wally decided to do that there was absolutely no excusing what he did. There was no difference between Wally and a mass murderer. He took away the excuse that it was an accident because he lost control of the Speed Force while others were around.
The fact is that it might have been more understandable if Wally did not cover things up and did confess that his lack of control the Speed Force for a moment. With Wally dealing with so much King could’ve shown what PTSD not only had on a person but also someone like Wally who required constant control in order for the Speed Force not to get out of control. On top of that it King had the opportunity to further the idea of how Wally represented hope with his return at the start of Rebirth and the weight of all the pressure of representing that to the entire DCU and fans.
Unfortunately King took that part of Wally’s story away once the cover-up was decided to be down by Wally. There was no longer an excuse to be made. Wally made himself a criminal by choice. Which just made the serious topic of PTSD be something that the reader ignored when Heroes In Crisis #9 concluded the story. That was incredibly disappointing because PTSD is not something that should just be a footnote in person’s arc.
WALLY WEST FIVE DAY SOLUTION UNDERWHELMS
The other major problem with Wally’s entire cover up is that King had Wally talk about how he needed five days to make things right. There was so much importance in these five days after the mass murder at Sanctuary took place that we were led to believe Wally would begin his road to recovery. But King just ended up ignoring the importance of Wally needing five days to set things right. Instead what we learn is that Wally need the five days so he could reveal the truth about Sanctuary, release everyone’s private confession, getting a rose to resurrect Poison Ivy and find a future version of himself to kill and plant at the crime scene.
All of those actions is something that showed that Wally truly needed five days to do. Especially with his Speed Force powers all those things he could’ve done in mere minutes. All the five day delay in Wally confessing to being responsible for the Sanctuary mass murder was make him loose even greater credibility. He just avoided things and caused a five day manhunt to take place rather than trying to at least show he was still a superhero by doing things like saving lives and stopping crimes from happening during that period. Instead all that happened was that Wally got help from Booster Gold to complete the cover up.
HEROES IN CRISIS AFTERMATH: WHAT NOW?
Heroes In Crisis is an event that had the opportunity to be a memorable event for positive reasons. Superheroes dealing with PTSD had a lot of potential to make the DCU a more grounded universe that is filled with God-like beings. It is a topic that deserved great care and made characters so many people care about have even greater depth. That unfortunately did not happen. It is extremely saddening that Heroes In Crisis turned into such a controversial event. Especially as someone who has loved Tom King’s work on Batman, Grayson, Vision and Mister Miracle I had high hopes for Heroes In Crisis to be an important and meaningful story.
Now the question is where do we go from here? Because as things went down Wally West losing control of the Speed Force spotlighted the fact that the superhero community needs to relegated if accidents like this can happen in a world filled with God-like people. If PTSD is going to properly dealt with seriously the Justice League need to work with other organizations and government officials rather than self-policing. This isn’t something DC should sweep under the rug now that superhero PTSD has been given such a spotlight. It would be completely irresponsible.
At the same time, DC has a lot of questions to answer when it comes to Wally West’s character arc. For such a beloved character to be responsible for such an act and now be locked up DC needs to be careful. The next thing that is done with Wally has to be treated with great care not to just undo things. There has to be reasonable decisions made to put Wally back on a road fans will want to follow. Because whatever is done next with Wally will have a big spotlight from DC’s fanbase.
Which brings up the big things going on during the Year of the Villain. We know that the Dark Multiverse, specifically Batman Who Laughs, has been working behind the scenes to kidnap and replace key people in the DCU, as revealed in The Flash #65. The events of Heroes In Crisis could play a major part in the investigation Batman and Superman will be conducting in secret.
That is all speculation right now. What we do know is that DC needs be smart about how they deal with the fallout from the controversial events in Heroes In Crisis.
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