It’s the final issue of Heroes in Crisis and the message we’re meant to take away is that Hope is accepting responsibility, bearing your burdens, and carrying on regardless.
For me, Hope is continuing to buy a series that, more often than not, just annoyed me. In the end, Hope equals stupidity – I feel dumb for hoping for a final issue swerve that would make me like – or at least accept – a series that’s not clicked for me since the moment we learnt how superhero therapy centre Sanctuary worked. Or rather, ‘worked’.
Because a care facility run by robots – an automat for mental illness – could never cure what ails sad super-people. Tragedy inevitably came calling, with the third Flash, Wally West, losing control of the lightning within him and killing most of his fellow patients and him framing Harley Quinn and Booster Gold for mass murder to give him time to somehow make up for what he’s done.
This month we see that meant revealing the truth of Sanctuary to the world.
And then, we do get a bit of a swerve.
So that’s something. Five Days Older Wally, having had time to think, realises a cover-up isn’t heroic, he’ll convince his younger self to accept what he’s done and take whatever comes. By the end of the issue he’s in a cell ready, if rumours are correct, to lead a new version of the Suicide Squad.
The resolution doesn’t make any sense to me – the Wally Twins use time travel shenanigans to institute a time loop meaning the framing of Harley and Booster, his only real crime, never happened. So why not use time travel to go back and prevent the mass lightning strike a few minutes earlier? Using Barry and Flashpoint as justification is weak – Barry changed history decades before his starting point, creating a butterfly effect that never really made sense – Wally would just have to tweak one very recent day; heck, he’s changing his own history here by talking to himself.
But no, Wally decides to leave everyone dead and wait for the Justice League to arrive and arrest him. By issue’s end he’s in what appears to be a prison cell, supposedly at peace but looking desperately sad. This seems very wrong. Accidentally killing a bunch of superheroes would surely mean a long course of treatment somewhere a hell of a lot more capable than Sanctuary which, bizarrely, seems to have been rebuilt by issue’s end.
Just take that in for a sec.
The therapy centre whose failure led to the deaths of around a dozen superheroes is up and running once more. Wally pays the price for its failure while Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, whose hubris caused all this nonsense – they reckoned that as Senior Super Heroes they could fix folk by putting their personalities into robots, or something – just get on with their lives.
Writer Tom King really should have used a few pages to show the aftermath from the point of view of the Big Three. Instead, we get yet more panels of Heroes in Therapy, as he tries to sum up characters who’ve been around decades in a single panel. It’s ridiculously reductive.
Nope, his head is not on fire, it is, and always has been, an illusion.
An easy nod to King’s excellent Vision series at Marvel, which makes no sense for Reddy, who already has a very human family.
What’s apparently meant to seem silly actually points up Zee’s insane coolness.
And still we don’t see what the heroes are looking at, this apparently silent servant who fails them so badly.
Will we see Heroes in Crisis codas in other books, showing how the world reacts to the revelation of Sanctuary? What happened to Five Days Later Wally, does he stay in the 25th century, where they head – in between panels – to make a ‘speed clone’ to serve as a dead body? Is a ‘speed clone’ not living, just some kind of after image that can fool the inevitable Bat-autopsy, or is a fresh Wally murder-suicided?
Am I just not getting this story at all?
I certainly don’t understand why Poison Ivy was comic-killed and resurrected in terms of Wally’s journey. And Wally encounter grouping Beetle, Booster, Babs and Harley on the literal field of conflict is utterly cringeworthy.
But, I do like this moment. Plus, the art by illustrator Clay Mann and colourist Tomeu Morey is very easy on the eye, with convincing expressions of emotion, facially and in terms of body language. And the title spread is a stunning irrelevance.
So, that’s Heroes in Crisis. King aimed to give us a deep look at how life as a superhero would affect the psyche. If you accept his skewed view of long-established characters, maybe he succeeded. Not for me. Heroes in Crisis has simply spat on the spirit of DC Rebirth and destroyed Wally West. A character we followed from kid sidekick to the most super of heroes, a respected member of the Justice League and a man defined by his extended family, is broken and alone.
That’s Hope? I hope not