Comics Review: ‘Heroes in Crisis’ #1

Tragedy strikes the DCU…

Heroes in Crisis #1

Clay Mann’s powerful and evocative cover art for ‘Heroes in Crisis’ #1 (image credit: DC, used for illustrative purposes only).

Spoiler-free review

Written by:  Tom King / art by:  Clay Mann / colours by:  Tomeu Morey

What’s it about?

“I’m Just Warming Up” : discovering that several of their fellow heroes have been murdered, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman must uncover the mystery surrounding the circumstances…

In review

Eisner Award winning writer Tom King (critically acclaimed scribe of DC’s Batman and Mister Miracle) teams up with artist Clay Mann for the highly anticipated nine-issue series Heroes in Crisis, which launches with a harrowing and emotionally charged opening chapter that shocks and surprises in equal measure.  Numerous crises have befallen the DC universe over the course of its long history but this one is more personal as opposed to cosmic.

Heroes in Crisis introduces us to Sanctuary – a safe and secure place set-up by Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman where superheroes, unnerved by the rigours of the job, can seek refuge and recovery.  However, it quickly becomes apparent that darkness has fallen as the Trinity race to Sanctuary to face a terrible horror…someone has turned the safe haven into a blood bath of tragedy that will have dire repercussions for the entire community.  Addressing the heart-breaking wave of shootings in America and tapping into his own experiences as a former C.I.A. operative, King infuses Heroes in Crisis with social relevance and an overdue commentary on the state of our world that makes for a stark but compelling read.  It’s quite clear that the core of this story concerns PTSD and King delivers necessary gut-punches of emotion throughout this first issue, which is sure to carry on into the rest of the series.

As readers of Batman will recognise, King employs an inventive narrative structure splitting the book between the perspective of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman as they rush to the scene of the crime, confessional style flashbacks (utilising the iconic Watchmen style nine-panel grids) and a brutal encounter between Harley Quinn and Booster Gold, who are the main focus of this instalment.  King has a great handle on Harley, highlighting the zany humour and unhinged danger of the Joker’s old partner and continues the work he did on Batman to redefine Booster Gold beyond his more beaming and egotistic persona to create an iteration of the character that’s actually interesting.

The art by Clay Mann (who has previously worked with Tom King on Batman) in a word is simply incredible.  Mann’s figures are strong and heroic (his Superman is a particular standout) and his storytelling is cinematic on a variety of scales but proves most skilful in depicting the intimacy of the drama with detailed facial work, expressing every emotional nuance, vocal or not, that the characters experience.  It’s all rendered beautifully with the aid of Tomeu Morey’s organic colours.

So, does all this mean dark times for the DCU, then?  That remains to be seen but it’s probably unlikely in the long run, DC’s Rebirth has been celebrated for its optimism and hopefully Heroes in Crisis will have a resolution that reminds us that there will always, eventually, be light at the end of the tunnel.

The bottom line:  A strong and gripping start, Heroes in Crisis promises to be an important series and couldn’t be in better creative hands.

Heroes in Crisis #1 is published by DC and is available in print and digital formats now.

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5 thoughts on “Comics Review: ‘Heroes in Crisis’ #1

  1. Absolutely excited for this series! It’s sort of like Identity Crisis with a slightly heavier and bigger scope on certain psychological and societal issues. I do love when there’s an underlying social commentary to a superhero story, and clearly Tom King doesn’t fail in delivering those kinds of things, based on what he’s beautifully accomplished in The Sheriff of Babylon. It’s just when it becomes really preachy that it might become a lot less appealing. Sort of like what I just went through reading Morrison’s Earth One Wonder Woman Vol. 1…. Review to come for that… I’m also a bit surprised that Harley and Booster Gold are the main attraction here. I honestly didn’t look into the blurb for this series till you summarized it here. I am curious to see where it all goes. Again, beautiful and eloquent review as always, sir. Truly amazing how you word your thoughts. Do teach me hahah 😀

    • Haha, thanks for the kind words and your continued support Lashaan. This is when comics are at their best, telling an entertaining and even challenging story that comments on the things that are happening in the real world. It’s a dark beginning but I have faith that Tom King will lead things to a positive and heroic conclusion. That’s the power of superhero stories, they can take a bleak scenario and give us hope.

  2. It seems that DC is on a roll lately, They have in some ways gone back to basics and recaptured what made comics so popular in the 80s and 90s with buzz-generating event series. Fingers crossed that the mini series continues to deliver the goods.

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