Heroes in Crisis (2018-) #4
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Clay Mann
On the cover of the newest issue of Heroes in Crisis, Harley Quinn triumphantly declares “Guess he wasn’t fast enough!” while standing atop the recently murdered Wally West. In an age of inaccurate, misleading covers, this is very true to the book’s content. With issue 4 of Heroes in Crisis, DC continues its lurid murder mystery that seems more focused on shocking its readers than engaging them. What does a half-naked Lois Lane languishing in a doorway have to do with superheroes trying to deal with their trauma in a constructive, healthy way? You tell me.
On that note, the recent cover controversy surrounding Heroes in Crisis has drawn attention to how absurdly sexualized this book is. Putting Harley Quinn and Batgirl’s confrontation in a house of mirrors seems like an excuse to show off as much of their bodies as possible. It’s preceded by a sequence in which Batgirl undresses to show the gunshot wounds left by the events of The Killing Joke. It could only be more sexualized if she stripped completely naked. Mann’s excesses are bad enough in a vacuum, as it’s unnecessary and excessive. But it’s inappropriate in a book that claims to deal with a topic as serious and complex as mental health.
At this point, the pressing question of Heroes in Crisis isn’t who’s responsible for the murders, who Lois Lane’s enigmatic source is, or anything related to its central mystery. It’s how the reader is supposed to believe Sanctuary, the Trinity’s superhero mental health refuge, was helping anyone in light of what’s been shown. It looks like it’s building up to another shocking twist to shame the heroes and make them subject to even more derision. It could be commentary on how society fails those in need through the systems meant to help them. But right now, Heroes in Crisis is too busy killing off Teen Titans and having more popular heroes debase themselves on camera.
Nowhere to be found in Heroes in Crisis are the inspiring but nonetheless human figures of past eras of DC. They squabble, they rant and drink excessively. They don’t accomplish much else, despite the severity of the circumstances. Heroes in Crisis is so busy presenting the heroes’ trauma and its roots that everything else is irrelevant. For example, it frames Booster Gold and Blue Beetle’s friendship entirely in the context of their problems. They’re not friends because they get along. Instead, it’s because they’re broken, hopeless people who need something to cling to.
Heroes in Crisis still has more to say but so far, none of it has been worth it. The book is meant to shock and horrify you and it succeeds in that respect. It catches your attention but it doesn’t keep it because there’s no real substance to anything. Hopefully, the book manages to have more meaningful things to say in the next five issues.
Heroes in Crisis #4
Heroes in Crisis offers little in the way of meaningful content.