Heroes in Crisis #6 review

It’s therapy session time at Sanctuary. Time-tossed Teen Titan Gnarrk, mentally malfunctioning ‘villainess’ Harley Quinn and reality-ripped Flash Wally West are, separately, considering the same question. How many people have they saved?

Why the resident AI at the refuge set up by Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman wants to know this, isn’t clear. Still, off they go into computer simulations in this chapter, which is set prior to the wholesale slaughter which preceded the first issue.

Gnarrk thinks of simpler times, but he’s long since lost the peace of a Neanderthal.

Wally considers his life since he escaped an inter-realities prison.

Harley tells fellow patient Poison Ivy that she’s in need of excitement.

And so it goes in the latest issue of Heroes in Crisis. Writer Tom King establishes his model early on and sticks with it like glue from a super-horse, but the predictability of the format is offset by some interesting insights.

Gnarrk‘s peace of mind has been destroyed by education.

Wally can’t buy into his friends’ joy at his return because his family is lost to him.

And Harley… I have no idea. She’s a personality who just doesn’t work in serious stories, imposing psychological depth on her breaks the character. Harley works as a comedy foil, or the bemused star of Ambush Bug-style strips. Stick her in a tale about mental anguish and she’s an encumbrance… how can I care about Harley when she has no set personality? The Harley in her own comic isn’t the gal in Suicide Squad and she’s certainly not the one from early appearances in Batman stories.

Maybe this is King heading somewhere, using a character famously out of touch with reality as an anti-touchstone in his graphic dissertation of post-traumatic stress. We shall see.

While this Gnarrk doesn’t fit recent depictions in the about-to-be-cancelled Titans comic – there he speaks in regular sentences – me love caveman talk, it reminds me of Superbaby. So sue me. And the idea that Gnarrk knows that having his mind opened by great thinkers has destroyed his inner peace, but he doesn’t regret it, is fascinating.

Wally, I’m simply sad for, he misses his wife and kids so much. Worse yet, we see more of what happened on the day of the massacre, and it doesn’t look good for one of the series’ main suspects – still, there’s more than one way to read a comic book page.

There’s one panel which may contain a clue – Wally has been reading Strange Adventures #45, one of an awful lot of gorilla-themed covers the series had back in DC’s Silver Age – could this be a pointer that Wally’s telepathic foe Gorilla Grodd is behind the whole thing? That might explain the sheer, primal violence of Gnarrk and Harley’s simulations… aren’t these things meant to help the patients? But it’s likely just an Easter egg lain by artist Mitch Gerads, like the nearby Post-It note, or New Teen Titans #1 cover nod.

Speaking of Gerads, he does a bang-up job illustrating all but the first and last pages in full colour (they’re by regular artist Clay Mann and colourist Tomeu Morey). He’s utterly in synch with Sheriff of Babylon/Mister Miracle collaborator King, bringing the writer’s thoughts to life and adding extra emotional depth. Have you ever, for example, seen such a powerful page of hugging?

He also knows when to metaphorically step away, sparing us the sight of a pile of eviscerated Jokers in close-up.

Also deserving of a big shout-out is letterer Clayton Cowles. See for yourself.

I’m not sure why King is giving us his New Avengers-period Brian Michael Bendis, but it doesn’t make for an enticing page. If he’s trying to tell us Harley’s head is full of, as we say in Scotland, mince, i knee that already. Maybe it’s just fun for the Harley/Ivy shippers.

I’m not keen on Gerads’ cover – it’s cleverly conceived, well-executed, but overall, rather too unpleasant for breakfast time on a Wednesday. Still, Heroes in Crisis #6 is another issue that’s much better than the earliest few. Now I’m convinced everyone – not just big names Wally and Arsenal, but the members of Justice League Redshirts who populate the final page – will be back sooner rather than later, I can simply enjoy the character work and the mystery of the killer’s identity.

How about you?

17 thoughts on “Heroes in Crisis #6 review

  1. I so hope you are right, but I am not convinced yet. We cannot trust, what we see, but what we see is all there is…

    Is it Time-Travel?
    Mind-Control?
    Deus ex Machina?
    Is it all a giant simulation?
    A fair mystery?

    Liked by 2 people

      1. To quote Rip Hunter: “Time is broken”…

        After all, if the puddlers are “all dead,” how are the puddlers sending these thumb drives? Again: Time travel? Do we see a pattern?

        Did we learn about the real cause of death of Wally yet? The top forensics of the DCU are not able to find it out?

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Hmmm. For once, I think I might like an issue of Heroes in Crisis less than you, Mart! Although I suppose it’s the marketing of this issue I bristle against, not the issue itself. (I really liked the Gnarrk and Wally parts, and had similar problems with you about the Harley parts — even though, in large part, taking her abuse at the hands of the Joker seriously works for me. I just didn’t connect with her here like I did last issue.)

    But I think, like issue 3, the story might have been better off labeling these issues as a Heroes In Crisis special or tie-in or some other word for adjacent mini-series. Granted, an extra month between issues would also kill momentum of this mystery, but so do two issues of running in place. Thinking of these issues as their own side thing makes them a little easier for me to accept.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good eye on the Strange Adventures cover, by the way. But I wonder if the real clue isn’t the Gorilla story, but the topline on the comic: No Eyes Can See Me!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m not really sure what, exactly. But we’ve never actually seen the therapist that everyone is talking to, and combined with the Holodeck/Danger Room-style illusions that let people act out supposedly therapeutic scenarios, that seems pertinent.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I am currently running on confused when it comes to Wally West. According to him and Barry, only a very few people know he is who he was. There is no real memory of him in the broader world, yet in a story tying into this series, over in Batman and Flash, we are given to believe that Wally was a beloved hero of Central City alongside The Flash.

    I know continuity is not supposed to be super important in the grander scheme, but if a character is supposed to have a certain quality, like Wally being displaced in reality, then it should at least be a consistent quality of the character.

    I suppose this is on purpose, or that they will claim it is later, and that the old reality is slowly merging with the new one.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No, over in Flash, the Flash Museum has images of Wally and his career as a hero. Since no one should really remember him, except the few people he has managed to get to do so with the speed force connection, that should not be the case. Wally Flash should be new to everyone. A recent speedster.

        I’m okay with it being the old continuity bleeding into the new one, and my theory about Crisis is that this may be the case here. That someone is trying to fix the universe as it “collides” with the old one, maybe by making room for people who will come into existence.

        But i am likely wrong.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh, you’re spot on Nerdking. There’s little sense. I could go with a continuity bleed too, but at least during Crisis we were told there was a plastic period – here we have to guess or just go with it. I may have to tweet Josh Williamson!

        Like

      1. Oh, that’s a good point. We don’t know what’s real in the main comic, but it’s 99 per cent an error in Titans… probably one of those deals where other writers aren’t given the courtesy of knowing the beats in someone else’s big story.

        Like

  5. I can’t believe …
    A third of this book was about a caveman I never heard of.
    That the Trinity thinks Ivy and Harley killing fake Jokers is tru therapy.
    That someone could make me not enjoy reading Wally.
    That this is Tom King’s follow up to the excellent Mr. Miracle
    That I am still buying this.

    Anj In Crisis.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, you know Lilith’s boyfriend Gnark, you’re a veteran!

      Actually, one of the big things that’s difficult to buy about this series is that heroes who’ve not been seen in decades have anything to be traumatised by.

      Like

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