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Review: Heroes in Crisis #9

Heroes in Crisis #9

Heroes in Crisis #9 wraps up what has been a mess of a miniseries. It never quite nailed down what it wanted to be and took too many side tours that didn’t focus on what was promised. Beyond the controversial reveal of who caused the deaths at Sanctuary, it’s also a series that seemed to have gone over too many people’s heads.

At its heart, what Heroes in Crisis was supposed to be was a focus on the trauma heroes experience and the impact. In the real world, soldiers, police, first responders, so many are impacted negatively from the good they do. The results can be PTSD, outbursts, and worse, and this series attempted to look at that. Though these heroes may seem calm on the outside, inside they’re struggling. Writer Tom King wanted to explore that and in some ways he did and in other ways he didn’t.

The event turned into a “whodunnit” as other heroes put the puzzle pieces together and suspects ran. Threads involving Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the Flash were left dangling or not needed while latter issues congealed around a tight knit group of characters.

Then there’s the murder, Wally West.

West is one of the characters who represents “hope” in the DC Universe. His return in DC Rebirth represented the positive nature of heroes and slowly over time we’ve seen him realized the sacrifice he’s made. He discovered his family was taken away from him. He discovered his memories were taken away from him. And eventually he lost control resulting in the deaths of Sanctuary.

In Heroes in Crisis #9, King explores that hope. It’s talked about and danced around in some ways but that seems to be the point he’s making. Though some of those good heroes may eventually do damage, don’t give up on the hope. You need to keep on doing good yourself. That seems to be the point. You recognize the heavy nature of the positive you’re doing. You recognize the trauma. And you still try to do good and you move forward. That’s the conclusion King comes to.

The art by Clay Mann with color by Tomeu Morey is fantastic as expected. There’s some truly breathtaking spreads and pages. Mann has an amazing eye for dynamic positions of characters in panels with intriguing and eye catching perspectives. Morey’s colors make it all pop. Clayton Cowles‘ lettering too catches the mood and inflection as the story moves along. So much of the emotion is driven by a simple change in font and placement of dialogue or boxes.

Heroes in Crisis wasn’t perfect. There were massive issues that some editing and better focus would have corrected. Tom King explored a topic that was far overdue and one the public largely ignores. It did, with issues, what entertainment is supposed to, use allegory to explore our condition and world.

Story: Tom King Art: Clay Mann
Color: Tomeu Morey Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 7.0 Art: 8.65 Overall: 7.15 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Heroes in Crisis #9

Heroes in Crisis #9

(W) Tom King (A/CA) Clay Mann
In Shops: May 29, 2019
SRP: $3.99

The most-talked-about miniseries of the year reaches its stunning finale! The mystery behind the murders at Sanctuary is solved, but the mind behind it is one the heroes never expected. With their deepest secrets exposed, the Trinity has to consider how to carry on. Should the tragedy cause them to redouble their efforts to help their hurting comrades, or will they need to close up shop? The answers will be found in the ashes of this final showdown, and the fates of Booster Gold, Harley Quinn and the rest hang in the balance.

Heroes in Crisis #9

Tom King’s Batman Run Moves to a 12 Issue Miniseries, Batman/Catwoman

The last 24 hours have been swirling over Tom King‘s future on Batman and we now have an answer as to what’s going on.

DC has revealed some of their strategy for 2020 and that focus is a tighter intertwined narrative across DC’s comic lineup. The first change is to Batman which currently Tom King is writing and his run was to go to at least issue #100.

Beginning in January 2020, Batman will return to a monthly shipping schedule from the current twice-monthly. The focus of the title will be to incorporate it more int o the DC Universe and continuity. Currently it, and other Bat-titles, have been doing their own thing with a loose connection to the rest of the DC Universe. A new 12-issue series, Batman/Catwoman by Tom King with art by Clay Mann will launch. Detective Comics, Catwoman, Nightwing, Batgirl, and other related titles will continue in 2020 with no immediate changes to their shipping schedules (read into that as you want).

Tom King’s run on Batman will begin to wrap up with Batman #75 which begins the “City of Bane” storyline. Tony S. Daniel is on art and that comes out July 17, 2019.

After three years being broken down by Bane, Bruce Wayne falls to his lowest point. Bane’s minions have moved into Gotham City, taken control and are ruling with an iron fist…and Batman is nowhere to be found.

That storyline brings together King’s past 74 issues. It runs for 11 issues featuring artwokg by Daniel, Mikel Janin, and Man and concludes in Batman #85 which is out December 2019. Add in the announced new series and King’s storyline will reach almost its intended length. King has indicated that the follow up to “City of Bane” would again focus on the relationship between Batman and Catwoman.

Batman and Catwoman is a chance to do what Morrison and Quietly did in Batman and Robin: launch an ambitious, accessible, beautiful, thrilling new series that concludes years of stories and defines what Batman is, can, and will be. This will be a comic about what the best Batman comics are always been about, how our greatest hero turns fear into bravery, pain into hope, trauma into love. It’s the story I always wanted to tell, and I’m telling it with the man I consider to be the greatest artist in comics, my brother Clay Mann

It’s a gift and a joy to be on that book. But I’m leaving it to work on the biggest, most ambitious projects of my career, comics I get to make with the best collaborators in comics. And that’s a gift and a joy too.

– Tom King

The above quote would indicate to expect more from the DC exclusive King as he references “projects.”

While speculation and rumors have run out of control as to why King is no longer on Batman, the answer sounds like DC is re-evaluating their entire line for 2020 with a greater focus on the DC Universe and continuity. Expect more shake-ups and changes (and hyperbole from other sites) over the next few months going in to San Diego Comic-Con.

promo artwork for BATMAN/CATWOMAN by Clay Mann and Hi-Fi

Preview: Heroes in Crisis #8 (of 9)

Heroes in Crisis #8 (of 9)

(W) Tom King (A) Clay Mann (A/CA) Mitch Gerads
In Shops: Apr 24, 2019
SRP: $3.99

You’ve seen all the clues. You’ve heard the testimony and eavesdropped on the secret confessions of the World’s Greatest Super Heroes. Now, with the killer revealed, it’s time to find out why. What could have driven a hero to the brink, to turn a savior into a murderer? Rifts will form between old allies, and the trinity of Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman will have their leadership challenged and will question their own judgment. Sanctuary has become something they never imagined…and it’s still potentially carrying on without them!

Heroes in Crisis #8 (of 9)

Review: Heroes in Crisis #7

Heroes in Crisis #7

Heroes in Crisis has been up and down in quality delivering a comic that at times nails its concept of heroes dealing with PTSD and at other times coming close to torture porn. Heroes in Crisis #7 gets things a bit back on track as the series begins to wrap up with an issue that focuses a bit on exactly what happened but also the trauma of three characters, Wally West, Booster Gold, and Harley Quinn.

Writer Tom King focuses the issue a bit revolving around those three characters at it explores each of their trauma while also driving the story forward. It’s what the series was pitched as and much more of what I expected.

Through various segments we see Wally West discuss his issues and dealing with them in a way using his powers. The empathy towards him builds until that final page where it’s hard to not feel sadness for his experience, especially about his possible death. I say possible as the issue touches on the time difference in bodies though doesn’t explain it yet. We also get some interesting things concerning Poison Ivy which points to the obvious that not everything we’ve witnessed in this series is as it seems and some of the deaths will be “undone” when things wrap up.

The rest of the comic mostly has to do with Booster Gold and Blue Beetle and Batgirl and Harley Quinn who have clashed as Harley and Booster battle each other. That too is cathartic in numerous ways as the two characters have their own breakdowns before getting their act together to eventually save the day. The highlight though is Batgirl and Blue Beetle who chat as Harley and Booster battle.

The art is split between Clay Mann, Travis Moore, and Jorge Fornes with color by Tomeu Morey and lettering by Clayton Cowles. Despite three different artists, the issue is smooth as far as look and there is some very solid pages and panels that’ll have you linger. Small artistic details add to the story enhancing the enjoyment and the emotional connection.

The issue gets back to basics in some ways exploring the emotional issues these three characters have due to their heroic nature and at the same time drives the murder mystery story. If only every issue was like this, the series would stand out more than it has and possibly have avoided its ups and downs in quality and focus.

Story: Tom King Art: Clay Mann, Travis Moore, Jorge Fornes
Color: Tomeu Morey Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 7.75 Art: 8.15 Overall: 7.85 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Heroes in Crisis #7

Heroes in Crisis #7

(W) Tom King (A) Clay Mann (CA) Mitch Gerads
In Shops: Mar 27, 2019
SRP: $3.99

The Trinity may have uncovered the true killer responsible for the deaths at Sanctuary, but the artificial intelligence that ran the institution is the one thing standing between them and the culprit. Now Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman must face off with their own creation-and face the consequences for what they created. Also, as the truth is uncovered, Booster and Harley go from being enemies to allies.

Heroes in Crisis #7

Review: Heroes in Crisis #6

Heroes in Crisis #6

Get a deeper look into the inner workings of Sanctuary. When heroes visited the facility, they relived their trauma through virtual reality, contending with the events that brought them there in the hope of reaching a meaningful resolution. That is, until the trauma took over and escalated these personal events into a full-blown crisis! Find out what pushed one of the superheroes over the edge and how it broke the machine.

For five issues we’ve gotten fake outs and twists and turns teasing us as to who the killer is and Heroes in Crisis #6 seems to deliver us the answer… which clearly isn’t the answer.

Written by Tom King, Heroes in Crisis #6 is an issue focused on three characters dealing with their trauma showing us how Sanctuary treats individuals using virtual reality. It’s something we’ve seen before and feels like a filler issue used because a few elements couldn’t be filled in elsewhere. It’s the first issue where I don’t feel like it adds much to the story beyond two things. The tragedy is shallow, the empathy little, and the fakeouts obvious.

The issue seems to finally answer who killed those staying at the facility which we know isn’t the answer and feels like yet another fakeout. It also points to who I’ve thought was the killer from the beginning and if it is, the event will feel more hollow than thoughtful.

Heroes in Crisis started with interesting promise of the exploration of exploring PTSD in heroes but at this point it feels like a dragged out murder mystery forgetting the tragedy we saw in those first few issues. Instead we get the same played out experiences as if we ourselves are placed in Sanctuary to experience trauma ourselves. And maybe that’s the point? But still, there’s something missing in this issue in both its presentation and what it lacks in adding to the overall narrative. It feels like we’ve seen most of this with different characters. When it comes to the exploration of Sanctuary it doesn’t add anything new.

The art mainly by Mitch Gerads is good. Gerads is always fantastic in that way and with some pages by Clay Mann the art is the most interesting thing about the comic begging us to look for visual hints and clues. Unfortunately that’s mostly blunt in many ways lacking finesse that has delivered for the previous five issues.

Heroes in Crisis #6 feels like a bad detour as the series drifts further away from the concept of heroes dealing with trauma. As a piece of the greater narrative the issue is fine but as we see in a few panels, the torture porn aspect of it all is emphasized here. It shifts from an attempt at empathy to an Eli Roth film.

We’ll see where the next few issues take us but this feels like a distraction. An added on issue that in the end it’s unsure as to what exactly to do with. It’s bloat that shifts the tone and focus of the story and not for the better.

Story: Tom King Art: Clay Mann, Mitch Gerads
Color: Mitch Gerads, Tomeu Morey Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 5.0 Art: 7.75 Overall: 5.0 Recommendation: Pass

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Heroes in Crisis #5

Heroes in Crisis #5

We’re at the half way point with one pretty big reveal to tease us more about what might have happened that resulted in the numerous deaths at Sanctuary.

Heroes in Crisis #5 is an interesting issue broken into three storylines. First, there’s the dealing with the leak that Sanctuary exists. Superman and Wonder Woman confront and acknowledge that in the public with a statement that threads throughout the issue. Then, there’s the investigation by Harley and Batgirl. And third there’s the investigation by Booster Gold.

Writer Tom King delivers an interesting issue that feels like the strongest of the series so far as it really lays out the need for mental health care and that there’s nothing to be ashamed about when it comes to it. Superman lays it out, the point of Sanctuary and people seeking care is a good thing. King feels like he’s making a statement to the reader more than anything and sadly it’s something that does need to be said.

King uses more confessionals to explore the various issues the heroes face and it’s everything from multiple deaths to addiction to abuse. All of it is tragic in its own way and it’s hard not to feel some empathy concerning what’s presented.

Then there’s the dual investigations. Both are interesting and it’s Booster’s that has a reveal that’s beyond intriguing. What I thought was going on might not be the case and now where I was once convinced as to who murdered the heroes, now, I’m not so sure.

What’s interesting about the two investigations is that they’re both being done by a duo. There’s Batgirl and Harley and Booster and Blue Beetle and the two pairings are very different in their approach and attitude. It’s an interesting comparison and the approach feels right for some reason.

What really stands out is the art by Clay Mann and Tomeu Morey which is truly breathtaking at times. There’s a level of detail that’s unreal with spreads that are absolutely amazing. Beetle and Booster on a couch, the folds of Harley’s outfit, the small things make the issue stand out in some of the best art I’ve seen in a long time. This is a comic where you’ll linger on the pages looking at what’s included.

This is an issue that feels like things are coming more into focus and the actual detective work begins. We’ve gotten what feels like false starts to the series in some ways but this issue really moves the story forward and gives us our real first clue as to what happened. This is a perfect middle point that has me excited to see where the rest of the series goes and it reminds us what the series is about, the trauma people experience and that it’s ok to seek help.

Story: Tom King Art: Clay Mann and Tomeu Morey
Story: 8.75 Art: 10 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Action Comics #1007

Action Comics #1007

(W) Brian Michael Bendis (A/CA) Steve Epting
In Shops: Jan 30, 2019
SRP: $3.99

The Kobra Cult conspiracy ensnares Daily Planet photographer Jimmy Olsen, drawing the attention of the Man of Steel. But be careful, Superman-there’s more lurking in the shadows of Metropolis than just a snake cult.

Action Comics #1007
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