Top 10 AMAZING Things About the TERRIBLE Heroes in Crisis

Today we’re going to talk about the Top 10 Things about Heroes in Crisis and I’m already dead inside… oh boy…

Best of Heroes in Crisis

Hello everyone, and welcome to Comic Island! My name is Arden, and today we’re going to try and see if I can weave straw into gold. Now a while ago, long time Patreon contributor Jeremy Renfro asked me to make this video, perhaps deliberately knowing the inevitable result. Because I hated Heroes in Crisis. Like, truly despised everything it said and stood for. It –

You know what? I need to stop myself right there. This is a happy video about happy things. Like Comic Island! You should subscribe to our channel and get notifications and such. And Heroes in Crisis, for which this project presents a challenge I am embracing – can I talk about an event I didn’t like in a positive way? Did I find 10 things to legitimately like in a story I legitimately hate? And the short answer is yes – even if I might have to stretch things for the first few rounds in this Top 10.

But I truly feel before we start we have to at least briefly review what Heroes in Crisis was all about. Not everyone might remember what happened or have even read the story – so go over everything. If that’s a big problem for anyone, you can go ahead and skip to this time code for the top 10 proper. Alright – now Heroes in Crisis… oh right… I have no idea what happens in this story. I’m sorry, I’m usually good at deciphering even the worst comic book nonsense, but I just don’t get it this time. I get lost in the second half of this story every time I try to explain it, I get frustrated, and then I give up. That’s what’s happened every time I’ve talked about Heroes in Crisis before, it’s what is going to happen if I try now.

10 No delays

Now I did say I had to stretch things ever so slightly to accommodate finding ten good things in a story I struggle to find any good in to begin with. Nevertheless, the stretch only happens for a couple of rounds, and even then, it’s hardly much of a stretch. Heroes in Crisis was delivered issue after issue, on time, without any sort of delays, last-minute additions to the story, or disastrous issues throughout the publication comics. Lots of other titles, both better and worse, have suffered from far greater delays, and given all the work that goes into putting a miniseries like this together, it is impressive how this story was clearly planned out, prepared for, and executed professionally. That’s worth adulation, in my books.

9 No last-minute changes

Hot on the heels of that last point, in spite of quite a bit of backlash, fairly early on, from critics and fans including myself, Tom King and DC held firm behind this story. This was a project they believed in even if people like me thoroughly rejected it. And I can definitely respect somebody who stands by their work in spite of criticism rather than somebody who instantly collapses under the weight of it. There have been event comics in the past where Marvel and DC have changed things moments before publication due to infighting behind the scenes or in response to a certain aspect of public reaction to the earlier issues of a story. Heroes in Crisis didn’t do that, and even though I fundamentally disagree with the story and what it is saying, trying to “fix” things halfway through publication would have probably only made things worse.

8 Unapologetic

Tom King has always held pretty firm behind this story. He hasn’t been dismissive of readers and critics who have expressed dissatisfaction with Heroes in Crisis, but he stands by what he was trying to say, and really wasn’t coming from a negative place in writing this story. Heroes in Crisis is a lot of things but it is not intentionally offensive and it would be wildly inappropriate to expect Tom King to apologize for a story just because I and, heh, many others didn’t care for it. I’ve always liked how well Tom King handles controversial stories. He never talks down to anyone, but he doesn’t apologize for his writing either. A lot of comic book writers could learn from this, while plenty of others are just as professional, and I will always prefer a writer who can handle a bit of criticism over one who loses their mind in the face of it.

7 Ambitious

Heroes in Crisis truly is trying to tackle issues that have never really been dealt with in superhero comics properly before. The ugly truth is that Marvel and DC, but most especially DC, have a pretty ugly history when it comes to how mental health issues have been depicted in their works over the years. Yes, it is merely a function of time and changes in cultural norms, but Heroes in Crisis and stories like it are needed to bridge the gap between the old world of mentally ill people all being locked up in a spooky asylum to the far more integrated, complex, non-violent, and nuanced take of the issue today. Heroes in Crisis didn’t quite stick the message it wanted to have, but I do give it a lot of credit for at least trying to tackle an issue that sadly, Marvel and DC still need to find ways to better deal with in future storytelling… without turning everyone into a depressed emo character.

6 Interesting ideas

Now here is another cool part of Heroes in Crisis – it’s just full of neat ideas. A farm where superheroes can deal with their mental health issues, the balance between Lois Lane’s role as a journalist against the ethics of these superhero’s right to privacy, even centring a DC event around a murder mystery – these are all very interesting ideas worth exploring further, even beyond the scope of Heroes in Crisis. I balk at the execution of some of these things, but yeah, there are some very cool ideas at play here, and that gives Heroes in Crisis a certain degree of real value – as it introduces the ideas into the DC universe. Just because they didn’t work out here doesn’t mean they won’t work again in the future – and this is the kind of story that is great for adaptation since, because it’s hard to argue that it’s perfect, adaptations can try out different things and see if they can make some of these ideas really work. I do appreciate that aspect of Heroes in Crisis, and there are plenty of good examples of this sort of adaptation working well in creating a valuable story where there really wasn’t one before.

5 The Colour

Now we’re getting into some of my favourite aspects of Heroes in Crisis, as just because I didn’t like the overall story, doesn’t mean that there aren’t parts of it I just loved. And the biggest aspect of it is the art in various forms. One aspect that really stands out is the colour. Heroes is bright and colourful, with much of the most striking panels and pages taking place in the pastures of Kansas. With the bulk of the artwork being done by Clay Mann, I just have to give special commendation to the striking pastel colours that exist throughout this series. It’s gorgeous and I could read superhero stories that look like this indefinitely. I’d prefer a better story but I really did love the colouring of Heroes in Crisis.

4 Pencils, Inks, and Designs

Speaking of Clay Mann and the artwork, I really don’t have any problems with his work in this series. My problems are specifically with this story. But Clay Mann, a longtime veteran of comics, is kind of showing off some of his best work, and not just in the colouring. The design and facial expressions of the characters, the creative way he does titles like on this amazing page, and so much more are offered by Clay Mann. And it should be noted – a lot of the stuff we’ve talked about so far – how the comic didn’t suffer from any major publication issues or any big delays – well Clay Mann is a huge part of what in this story works.

3 The Art in General

Yeah, I am stretching the art over three different categories, but it is a huge part of what works in this comic, and I am being specific in these three things. The colouring is amazing, as are other individual components of Clay Mann’s work, but also the very choice to include him in this project to begin with. A lot of stories like this would look very different, visually, from Marvel and DC in the past. The colours would be way darker, consisting of nighttime shading – lots of blacks and blues. But Heroes in Crisis’ art is in a sense at odds with itself – a dark story mixed with bright and hopeful art. That design, however, is well handled. It’s a deliberate contrast that works really well in conveying this sombre sense of innocence lost – which is the exact theme of this overall story. Again, I don’t like this story – but I can appreciate how expertly crafted it is – especially on the part of Clay Mann.

2 Great Characters

Okay, now we move on to something really near and dear to my heart. If you had told me, without any other context or information, that the DC Trinity was going to be featured in a murder mystery that also heavily involved the characters Batgirl, Harley Quinn, Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, the Flash family, Poison Ivy, and Lois Lane; that it would be a fairly straightforward story without a lot of tie-ins or insane action, and that it would attempt to tackle mental health issues – well, I was pretty excited about all of this at first. Outside of the main Trinity, these are cool characters, many of whom don’t get much of a chance in the spotlight, or haven’t in some time. It was cool to see them reunited in some cases, and featured so heavily. Of course, Harley Quinn and Booster Gold got gas-lit to oblivion while Wally West became a mass murderer but – of course – happy thoughts, we’re almost at the finish line – happy thoughts… where were we?

1 What it tried to be

If it hasn’t been apparent from the video so far, my biggest frustration with Heroes in Crisis is how much I wanted it to succeed in what it was trying to do to begin with. Unfortunately, I don’t think Heroes in Crisis escaped the superhero trap, though, and once again, a main character is shown to have mental health issues, and in response to it, he violently kills a half dozen people.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I ain’t go no problem with mentally ill, violent characters like the Joker, or, really, the entirety of Batman’s Rogues Gallery, or any other character like that – hero or villain. But I am saying in a story that sort of breaches the veil behind the superheroes and their overall mental health – it really, truly sucks that one of them has to suddenly be a murderer. And not just anyone, either – but Wally West – the Wally West from pre-New 52 at that – what I think is now safe to say the symbol of the now dead idea of DC Rebirth – to be replaced by whatever comes next while sadly leaving the best and most important discoveries of Rebirth behind with it.

I really wish this story was done well instead of inappropriately and with such an ugly choice behind the mystery. And the shame of it all is that it feels close – very nearly not just good, but great or perhaps even important and influential, and I feel like if it had just been thought through a little better, it could have worked so much more effectively. For example – this whole thing really didn’t have to be all about murder. Sanctuary could have detected a data breach, and it could have been a curious Wally West. But in his fatigue he accidentally leaks it to Lois Lane. Then let the rest of this story play out the same, pretty much – the Trinity tries to contain the massive data breach of sensitive, personal data about dozens of superheroes, with all that character conflict – while suspects like Harley Quinn and Booster Gold are chased down.

My point being, it feels like Tom King, in spite of the admirable trait of standing by his work, could have done a lot better. I thought of my version in like ten minutes, it’s basically the same story, the stakes are a little bit lower but seem pretty high to me given that villains could probably use that data to wreck havoc on heroes so you could have all sorts of action if need be, and Wally West isn’t a violent murderer. And this version could easily be improved upon by any competent writer, it’s just an unpolished idea.

The extreme nature of Wally’s actions undermines the most important ideas behind Heroes in Crisis, which is a shame, because those ideas – that just about every superhero there is has been dealing with trauma, or mental illness in some form or another, this whole time – and that people need to accept this rather than approach it from a place of fear or mistrust – these are important messages that I see an awful lot of value in in. So when crazy Wally West absorbs all the crazy of everyone else at Sanctuary, and the combined crazy causes him to become a MASS MURDERER, it seems almost obvious to me that this story is at odds with itself, and that’s-

Right, right, I’m sorry. But the best part of Heroes in Crisis – its goals or thesis statement, if you will, well I just don’t think it sticks that landing. It’s a positive thing for Heroes in Crisis to want to talk about mental health. I can’t talk about that without getting negative, because that would be fundamentally dishonest. If I want to commend Heroes in Crisis for tackling mental health issues, which I do, I absolutely need to qualify that praise with a reminder that the end result was one of the most profound fumbles I’ve ever seen.

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