Heroes In Crisis no. 1

Heroes in Crisis no. 1 (Art by Clay Mann)

Among the many new stories being created by DC after their Rebirth phase, one I’ve been the most excited for has been Heroes in Crisis. This is a murder-mystery story, written by Tom King (Batman, Mister Miracle), that examines what violence does to a society and I couldn’t be any more excited about it.

I watched, for months, and took in as much information as I could get my hands on about the mini-series event (HiC will only have 9 issues) so when issue one dropped, I was in awe of several things that King and DC had done.

Even now, having read the issue twice (and plans to read it again and again) there is so much to dissect and talk about that it’s hard to know where to begin.

I guess I’ll start with what I would “rate” this event. Since there’s only issue one as of this article, it’s hard to tell just how amazing or horrible this story could turn out to be. That being said, King has made an impression on me, and the story he’s crafted in just this first issue alone was powerful. I’ve got high hopes that at the end of issue nine we’ll have closure, and be able to reflect on it and all that’s being said. And it is with that optimism that I don’t think I can shout loud enough to say: On a scale of Toss It, Forget It, Read It, or Buy It.

Read It

I’d love, love, love to claim you should buy this story, but since issue one dropped just two weeks ago, I’m erring on the side of caution. If you love to write (doesn’t matter what) I think this issue deserves to be looked at and referenced in some way when you want to learn how to subvert expectations of your readers, and really grab at their emotions.

The reason for this starts with how DC chose to release information about this story leading up to it’s launch in late September. DC teased enough information to keep readers interested, while simultaneously not giving us enough. We knew it would touch on heroes and their trauma, we knew that there would be a murder-mystery, and we even knew which heroes to expect up-in-front of the story.

And it’s because of that build-up that I believe the tragic twist in issue hits readers so hard. DC cultivated an expectation from its readers, and even delivered on that expectation, but it was something completely out of left field that made many a reader’s heart sink (or social media profile blow-up). And that in-and-of itself deserves to be examined.

Then there’s King and his handling of the story. Overall it’s a slow, steady pace, that weaves in the important questions of a murder-mystery: Who and Why? Specifically, who committed the murder, and why did they do it?

And because this is a murder-mystery, that’s a good pace to set. Having read issue one, I don’t expect any heavy action/fight scenes to go down. I expect this to be a slow, deliberate examination where everything won’t be immediate or easily explained. I expect it to be complicated (to a degree) or at least more complex than being resolved with a punch, or batarang.

Now, at first glance King gives you two options as to the “who” question (though, as the story progresses there may be a yet-to-be-revealed third option) and wants you to make an assumption. Do you believe the story of one character or the other? The “why” question is still without options, however, so anything from “crazed psycho #2354” to “someone didn’t want heroes to be healed” and anything in-between, or outside of those choices is on the table.

This story is going to hinge a lot on suspense, and because it’s released on a monthly schedule there’ll be a lot of anticipation for each issue. I know I’m already chomping at the bit, and I cannot wait to rush to my nearest LCS and pick up issue no. 2.

I feel like a lot of current readers will enjoy the emotional ties they have to the characters that pop-up, but I also feel as if newer readers won’t get the same visceral reaction that I see right now from others.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope years from now I can recommend HiC to new readers with the same passion and excitement that I do when I recommend DC’s Rebirth. Or like when I talk to more veteran collectors who have to recommend a story like “Quiver” or “Flashpoint” to me.

But for now I’m just going to enjoy the story. I hope you do to.

Justice League: Drowned Earth

One of the things I enjoy the most about on-going comic series? Cross-over events. And among the cross-over events that I get to add to my list of fun and imaginative ones is the Justice League/Aquaman five part cross-over: Drowned Earth.

Drowned Earth In what I consider to be a great step forward for the character, Arthur Curry (a.k.a. Aquaman) got some much needed love to their lore. And with the Aquaman movie about to hit theaters in the U.S. I figured it’d be a good use of my time to sit down and talk about this character. Especially considering he could use a little more of the spotlight.

While the event is technically only five issues (between Justice League and Aquaman) there are a few tie-in issues as well that expand on the dangers of this event and how they’re impacting a few other characters like the Titans, and they all do a good job at showing the havoc an enemy of Aquaman’s could have on the rest of the Earth in DC (because you know, that’s never been shown before).

Drowned Earth gets Aquaman away from the politics of Atlantis, further reinforcing Arthur’s departure from King of Atlantis, and starts moving him towards something new. What, exactly, is this new direction? I’ll have to pick up Aquaman in the coming months to tell you but I digress from the topic.

See, Drowned Earth kicks off with the Legion of Doom trying to get towards their end game. Their latest scheme? Why, using long forgotten gods of the sea from other worlds of course! All so that they can reclaim the Totality and pursue their goal of pushing the Earth to the path of Doom (and when I say it like that it starts feeling like a cult thing). How do these gods fit into the plan? It’s a long story, one that’s better told by Scott Snyder, Francis Manapul, James Tynion IV, Howard Porter, and Frazer Irving. And man, these guys and their teams go to town. Both with the visuals and the narrative.

Now, not being a big Aquaman reader as I should be (I’ve had to make some tough calls in my pull list, and it hurts not reading every title I want to) I felt like I wasn’t getting a bad look at Aquaman during this run. All the characters involved felt like they were being handled well, but especially the Aquaman specific ones (you go Mera).

And as I’ve come to expect from anything Scott Snyder is involved in, it was a crazy fun adventure. It was wild and creative, it was serious to the characters, but not too series that it couldn’t be enjoyed. And it showed us that our heroes can earn a victory in more than one way — which I think really hits home with some earlier elements in Snyder’s Justice League.

There were some good moments, some great moments, and some not so great as well. But I got some memories from this story that I will definitely carry forward. If you’re a fan of Aquaman and you want something wild and away from the political trappings of the usual Aquaman stories, I encourage you to read it and share what you think. And then stay tuned to the Aquaman on-going issues, because it looks like we’re not done with wild and new ideas.

Here’s to more comics.