Heroes in Crisis #8 is upon us, the penultimate chapter in Tom King’s series examining how physical and mental anguish can take its toll on our beloved heroes. Before we dive in, lets checkout the covers.
Interior artist Mitch Gerads has created a beautiful cover tinged with a subtle horror element thanks to the bloody robes and masks in the foreground of the image. This cover is a perfect representation of the series as it showcases that not all is as it seems, and that horror can creep into any surrounding even the most picturesque or idyllic. Wally being accompanied by his wife Linda and children Iris and Jai just felt very tragic. Poignant, but tragic at the same time. How could anyone recover from a loss like that?
The variant cover created by Ryan Sook follows the ‘case file’ theme that has run throughout the whole series. This time around Harley Quinn is the focus as her New 52 origin is highlighted. And what a despicable act it was as The Joker throws Dr. Harleen Quinzel into the same chemical cocktail that transformed him into the monster he is today. Like i said, this is perhaps one of the most vile acts in all of DC Comics, and a trauma that would cause anybody to lose their mind.
It has to be said that in recent issues, Heroes in Crisis has really lost momentum. Considering how uneventful the last two issues were, I just wasn’t sure where answers were going to come from, and with only two issues remaining I was fearing the worst. An unsatisfactory conclusion was always a worst case scenario but sadly looking like a potential reality. However, with the arrival of Heroes in Crisis #8 came a reveal. THE reveal if you will. Out of literally nowhere, all our questions were about to be answered.
The entirety of this issue sees Wally West recount the events of that fateful day using a Sanctuary ‘Therapy Session’. For me It only seemed right that this would be the mechanism used to relay the truth along with answers to the reader. These sessions have been a mainstay throughout this whole run, peppered throughout and for one to play such a crucial role is a nice pay off.
Regarding just who exactly committed these murders. I have to say I am disappointed with the culprit. It’s totally out of character and the choice of culprit feels like an after thought. It feels like the creators decided on the culprit maybe halfway through the series. Now I’m sure that’s not the case however the lack of build up to this reveal does make you wonder. I totally buy into the way the murders occurred. Mixing powers with trauma and a loss of control can be very unpredictable where bad things can and will happen. It’s the acts the character commits after the murders that confuse me. These acts are not in this characters DNA at all. These methodical, premeditated acts are completely out of character. I just can’t reiterate this enough. Even with the trauma they are living with, the code they have lived by their whole life couldn’t possibly allow them to behave in such away.
One of this series biggest story lines has been the relationship between Harley Quinn and Booster Gold, and their friendships with Batgirl and Blue Beetle. Now I will be forever grateful to Tom King for reuniting Booster Gold and Ted Kord, it has been way to long since we last saw these guys together and there friendship has truly flourished in this series. The same cannot be said for Harley Quinn and Batgirl. I’m just not entirely convinced by what brought them together, and really they haven’t done anything of note since they teamed up. However, after this issue we do learn that Booster Gold and Harley Quinn’s involvement in the Sanctuary massacre was totally orchestrated by the true culprit. Essentially a huge misdirection. Now I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this considering how much time we spent with these characters going from enemies to allies, and it seems really for nothing.
The speed force in this issue plays an important part, and Mitch Gerads’ creates it perfectly in all its many guises featured in this issue. Be it while the character is running at speed, or as an explosive burst. It just looks incredible. It looks like electricity. As for Wally West himself, this man is broken right now. he is truly lost and Mitch Gerads’ art conveys that perfectly. The anguish radiates off of every page. Writer Tom King’s examination of how a hero copes with trauma mentally and physically has been so impressive though, at times the inner monologue in this issue feels like he is having a conversation with someone else. Certain sentences feel constructed as though they are responses to someone else.
Heroes in Crisis #8 has uncovered its Culprit, but we still have one issue remaining. Are there anymore questions left to be answered or is issue #9 all about tidying up lost ends? With that said Heroes in Crisis has been emotional and an intriguing look at physical and emotional trauma. These topics don’t always get touched upon in comics, so having a whole series dedicated to it has been a privilege. It’s safe to say issue #9 will be a very interesting read.