Review: Heroes in Crisis #1

Heroes in Crisis #1 coverHeroes in Crisis #1 delivers a first issue that’s an emotional punch and continues writer Tom King‘s streak of delivering an emotional and personal experience. Inspired by the real world issue of how our soldiers handle PTSD, Heroes in Crisis ponders how does the superhero community handle it?

Enter Sanctuary, an ultra-secret place to help superheroes who’ve been traumatized by their experiences in protecting the world and fighting evil. But, what happens when this safe space is violated? Something goes wrong and heroes are dead with two individuals as the prime suspects. While the comic is a murder mystery, it’s as much about the failures of Sanctuary. There was safety. There was security. But something has gone horribly wrong and ripped that away.

King has had a knack of delivering an emotional and personal spin to his comics that have included The Omega Men, Batman, Sheriff of Babylon, and Mister Miracle. As a former CIA counterterrorism operative post-911 it’s clear that King is working through his experiences through entertainment. Each of these series seems to have a different aspect of what he’s internalized whether it’s trauma, tough decisions, or one’s role in the world. Heroes in Crisis is about heroes who have to live through violence to save the world, something that King himself most likely has experienced himself.

That personal spin to it all is one of the things that makes this stand out. The issue is split between or initial suspects who are together in a cafe and also DC trilogy of Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman. While the suspects talk and have pie, the three heroes come across the scene of the crime. And King makes sure to deliver their emotional response. That feels like it jumps off of the page. All three are shaken no matter how stoic, cool, calm, and collected we generally think of them.

The stakes are raised as well with the suspects and who is murdered. There’s some high profile characters and some lesser knowns as well. That too ups the tension of it all as we the reader realize the impact that will reverberate throughout the DC Universe.

Clay Mann provides art, Tomeu Morey on colors, and Clayton Cowles with lettering and it’s fantastic. This wouldn’t work with another artist. There’s both a beauty and horror to it all with Mann delivering just enough detail but not over the top gore. Small details like a tear tell us so much as to what happens. We piece together the horrific events through the details much like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman do.

The comic is interwoven with “single camera confessionals.” Their body language delivers as much as their words. Mann’s focus on the movement of a head or hand is key in that sense. Morey’s colors too add so much to the storytelling. There’s just a tranquil aspect to it that hides the horror within. Some panels that are just amazing to look at put together and there’s a beauty to it all. Cowles’ lettering too is spot on with extra care taken, it seems, to use as little bubbles as possible. There’s just great placement to it all that helps frames some of the scenes driving one’s eye to the center of the action. A perfect example is scenes involving Booster Gold and Harley Quinn which combine the penciling, coloring, and lettering together for a near perfect artistic experience.

While we all claim we dislike comic events, Heroes in Crisis shows that there’s little reason to stop them. They deliver a break in story that can’t be told in any one series. They can also be of a quality that entertains, shocks, and has a deeper emotional impact all at once. And, they can be personal. Heroes in Crisis shows that even event comics can be more. If King has taught us anything from his past works, it’s that we’re in for a hell of a ride.

Story: Tom King Art: Clay Mann
Color: Tomeu Morey Lettering: Clayton Cowles
Story: 9.0 Art: 10 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review