Heroes in Crisis #9 (of 9)
Written By: Tom King
Art by: Clay Mann
Color Artist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
SPOILERS AT BOTTOM
This controversial (to say the least) event comes to a close. We know it was Wally West who accidentally killed everyone at Sanctuary and he framed Booster Gold and Harley Quinn in order to buy himself time while he “fixed” his mistakes the best he could. Wally West was the symbol of hope but he was unable to handle being a person without the family that made him exactly that. Those looking for closure will find it here (mostly)
The story here is really simple. Booster Gold, Harley Quinn, Batgirl, and Blue Beetle show up to try and convince Wally West not to kill himself. That is really all there is to it as this issue is more about delivering the final message of the event rather than ending it on some big bang. There are nine-panel moments interspersed throughout the issue that give a larger scope on why these heroes came to Sanctuary in the first place. There is a bit more to the story but those should be left to spoiler discussion at the end of this article.
I liked this issue as it really played with Tom King’s strengths. He really understands how to wrap up a story and does best with emotional moments. The problem is that this is a conclusion to an uneven series that took too long to reach this point. Every single issue that was great dealt with Sanctuary and the reasons heroes went there for help. If the series focused on that and not had issues where the mystery was dragged out this final issue would feel more meaningful. Right now it is a good issue that feels the weight of the 8 issues preceding it. Calling this comic an “event” (and even worse a Crisis) was the real error in judgment here.
King is known for his limited maxi-series that deals with the emotional impact and trauma front line heroes can face (Vision, Mr. Miracle, Omega Men, Sheriff of Babylon). By making this a big event it sold itself on something it was never meant to be. This final issue highlights this as it finds strength in character interactions and not a large mysterious “whodunit?” There are great moments here that show how clearly Tom King understand characters from Harley and Ivy’s embrace to Blue Beetle and Booster Gold’s brotherhood friendship, and finally to Harley confronting Wally West. Anything that had to be connected to a mystery was either poorly plotted out or as obvious as a freight train. From the second Ivy was thought dead I knew the Green would bring her back.
Wally West being the killer was framed in such a way that it allowed the comic reading public to lose their minds rather than sit and think about the real reasoning behind it. Wally lost everything, how can he go on with a smile? If I lost my wife and children in one fell swoop I think I would also hit rock bottom. If this wasn’t an event it would have had a chance to stand on its own and be critiqued in a different light (and probably afforded less editorial interference on making it “event worthy”). There are good things in Heroes in Crisis, this issue being one of them, but looking back this is the most unjustly and justly criticized work of Tom King’s career so far.
Clay Mann is a talented artist who sometimes veered to much into cheesecake for his own good. Thankfully he has read the room and can see people want realistic and emotionally impactful art. We don’t get a sexually suggestive embrace between Harley and Ivy, as we did with Batgirl and Harley in an early issue. The female heroes do not stand around looking like they are on a photoshoot here. The few humorous moments in the book do stand well and Mann is able to move everything along dynamically, even when dealing with a low action issue. I am glad to see that he has taken the criticism to heart here and has become a better artist over the course of this series. I am looking forward to seeing more of him, as when he is firing on all cylinders there are few better than him working today.
Wally West doesn’t end up killing himself and instead it seems that Booster Gold and Blue Beetle are using a cloned West body to pull off a time-traveling caper. I would guess that a Blue and Gold King maxi-series is going to be announced soon (which should be a lot of fun). It is clear when all is said and done everyone will be alive again and all the fanboy tears were for nothing (which they should have known as NOBODY stays dead in comics). Wally isn’t dead, and all those bodies lying in the field at the start of this series will be walking around again very soon. This series was not about death but about struggling to fight in the face of dangerous situations and how these characters come back from that. It is too bad that only a few issues dealt with the real thesis of this comic and others dealt with a big mystery that held no weight. It held no weight because it didn’t matter and never should have.