Sunday, March 1, 2020

DC Comics: Heroes in Crisis by Tom King

I love Tom King.  He’s a super nice guy.  I met him last year at NYCC and he was totally polite and kind to the awkward fanboying I engaged in.  I really like his writing style and have loved his work on Batman and The Vision and Mr. Miracle.  I look forward to his Adam Strange.  So know it is not a knee jerk reaction to say that Heroes in Crisis just did not work for me.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love many things about it.  I love the structure of his comics, his use of 9 panel grids, and the way his character’s voices seem so natural.  I love the grand idea behind it - even superheroes need help sometimes.  Even now, in the early 21st century, mental health problems are still stigmatized.  People suffering from them are often coded as villains, especially in comic books.  So it is a very powerful thing to help normalize to the comic reading audience that everyone needs help some time and just because someone is suffering does not automatically make them a Joker or a Mr. Zsasz.   I don’t even dislike him for using Wally West as the fulcrum of his story - Wally was, in my opinion, an unnecessary victim of the new 52 - there was no room for most legacy characters when all of the silver age heroes were de-aged and restored to their prime in new #1s.  When Geoff Johns finally brought Wally back I was thrilled! But by not restoring his family, it removed some of the most important parts of Wally’s story.  I really appreciate what Tom King was trying to do, showing us just how devastating and debilitating it would be to suddenly not only lose your children, but, find they had been wiped from existence and, on top of that, to find out that your wife/partner/best friend didn’t even remember you.  That would fracture anyone.

I objected to the fact that Tom King made Wally a killer (although not a murderer, it is clearly involuntary) who tried to cover up his crime and implicate two innocent people.  I know that Mr. King was trying to show how broken Wally was and how much damage his trauma had done to his character and his psyche, but it still felt like character assassination to me.  I am not saying I have an easy solution to this narrative problem, and I understand that my feeling upset at this turn of events might be exactly what the author intended, but it still felt out of character to me.

Likewise, Wally’s willingness to use time travel to falsely implicate Booster Gold and Harley Quinn doesn’t jibe with his unwillingness to use the same time travel ability to undo all of the deaths he just caused.  His reference to not making the same mistake Barry made that led to Flashpoint felt hollow to me - it was a false analogy because Barry’s Flashpoint timeline meddling dealt with events years in his past that would have obvious ripple effects, whereas Wally could’ve gone back in time ten minutes after everyone died to prevent it from happening.  

I am not currently reading Doomsday Clock,  and other DC Comics as they are coming out now,  it it seems from the Previews that Wally now has both the Moebius Chair and Dr. Manhattan’s powers, so I hope that a reality warp is coming soon that allows him to restore all of the wrongly killed characters to life, including Wally’s children.  I will wait and hope that he gets a happy ending soon. Or, if not an ending, at least a more uplifting status quo.  

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