Heroes in Crisis is DC’s late 2018 mega event, an instantly controversial dive into how the heroes of the DC Universe manage PTSD and trauma. With a story by Tom King and Clay Mann, the seven issue event series promises a serious, grounded look at the psychological impact superheroes would face.
The use of “Crisis” in an event title is no small claim in the lore of DC, with the likes of Crisis on Infinite Earths, Infinite Crisis, Identity Crisis, and Final Crisis all generating major, universe-shaking ramifications for Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and their super friends.
The event seems very much at odd with 2017 (and early 2018’s) enormous, cosmic DC event, Dark Nights: Metal. While Metal wasn’t officially labeled a “Crisis,” the creative team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo certainly made sure the deliriously adventurous scope felt like an event that would shake the foundations of the entire DC multiverse. Heroes in Crisis instead looks to bring that lens inward and reflect on the toll of men and women dealing with events of that magnitude.
I’ve seen fair amount of fan assumptions that the event will most closely resemble DC’s Identity Crisis, a popular Brad Meltzer written murder mystery that has undergone a considerable re-examination over the harmful effects on DC Comics in the 2000’s. While I’m very confident the creative team of King and Mann are savvy enough to avoid similar trappings, DC’s pre-release marketing of Heroes in Crisis uses a lot of loaded language, promising a murder mystery, a mass shooting inside DC’s Sanctuary (a trauma center for heroes), and the (in my opinion) deeply flawed marketing gimmick teasing the death of a popular character.
Time of course will tell, and reading the comics below is the best way to determine whether or not you feel Heroes in Crisis was a successful DC comics event!
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Related Reading Orders:
Batman and Catwoman: The Wedding
You can also hear my full analysis on the “Road to Heroes in Crisis,” along with a non-spoiler review of Heroes in Crisis #1 on the Comic Book Herald podcast.
Road to Heroes In Crisis
Batman #41 to #43: “Everyone Loves Ivy”
The three issue story by Tom King and Mikel Janin features Poison Ivy at her most supremely powerful, threatening Batman and Catwoman (and the entire Justice League) like never before. This is an essential prelude read due to the interactions between Harley Quinn and Ivy, and the introduction of Sanctuary, DC’s trauma clinic.
Since we’re here, I would also strongly recommend Batman #36 to #37 for a look at Tom King and Clay Mann firing together on all cylinders (in the story “Superfriends: Double Date”).
It’s been made clear that both Harley Quinn and Booster Gold are going to be at the center of Heroes in Crisis, and it’s in the pages of Tom King and Tony Daniel’s work on the three issue “The Gift” story arc that we see Booster’s descent. The happy-going time-traveling former member of the JLI tries to replicate Batman’s experiences in the classic Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons story in Superman Annual #11, “For the Man Who Has Everything,” with devastating consequences on future reality.
Following the events of “Flash War” in Flash #46 to #51, Wally West reveals a connection to Sanctuary.
Red Hood and the Outlaws Annual #2
Unless you’ve been reading Red Hood and the Outlaws since the start of DC Rebirth, jumping in with Annual #2 is going to be really confusing. Truly, all you need to know from this minor Heroes in Crisis stealth tie-in, is that Roy Harper (Green Arrow’s famous ward, and current hero known as Arsenal) plans to check himself into this “rehab for capes” center he heard about.
Heroes in Crisis Issue by Issue Reading Order
How essential is this tie-in?: 2.8 out of 5
Given that it’s the only Heroes in Crisis tie-in following the first issue, it’s not hard to guess at the relevance of Green Arrow #45. The connective tissue is ultimately very predictable, as Ollie deals with the aftermath of Heroes in Crisis’ opening salvo. Far from required reading, but adds a small amount of depth to the narrative.
Originally billed as “The Last Cold Case,” the 4 issue Batman and Flash crossover “The Price,” is the most elaborate Heroes in Crisis tie-in to date. Joshua Williamson writes all four issues, taking over for Tom King as the writer of Batman for two issues, and continuing his work on Flash that has run since DC Rebirth began!
I’ll also note here that all Flash tie-ins are collected in the Heroes in Crisis Companion Book
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I’m enjoying this a lot- does anyone know if the green arrow issues 48-50 are supposed to be read after the main series, or what?
Andy C says
Read The Price, thank you for the suggestion. It makes you think, the trauma of loss, the devastating effects it has on a person.
Hey, I’ve been reading the Batman ongoing since the wedding and realized there were some tie-ins with the Flash. It intrigued me so I started looking into it. Should I pause on reading the Last Cold Case until the rest of Heroes in Crisis finishes? Love the site and have been using this for years with Marvel comics. I just recently got into DC with Catwoman #1 (thank you Jones!) and backtracked for the wedding. Keep up the great work!
Gideon Faulconer says
I wasn’t aware that there was controversy surrounding Identity Crisis. Or that it had a negative effect on 2000s DC Comics. Is there an article you could possibly link describing this issue a bit more?
That’s interesting. I definitely didn’t know much about the negative perception when I read it. For reference, Comics Alliance was probably the most vocally opposed: http://comicsalliance.com/the-15-worst-comics-of-the-decade/
Gideon Faulconer says
Huh, that’s pretty interesting. What are your thoughts on Identity Crisis? I notice it’s not too high on your Best Comics of All Time list. I haven’t read it in quite a while now, but there was a time when I was questioning the amount of time that I was putting into comics and I thought “I wonder if these stories are really any good or if I just like them because I grew up on them?” and Identity Crisis actually helped to convince me that there was a lot of good storytelling to be found in comics. I think the “adult themes” certainly help the book feel like a more mature thing to be reading, and not that that’s the point of comics, but it does help to show that superhero stories don’t always have to be happy-go-lucky escapism. There are times where that’s all I want, is some great comics to help me forget about the stress of the world, but other times where I appreciate a book that gets me thinking and challenges my view on something. Maybe I need to reread it to see if perhaps I’m just remembering it through a rose-colored lens.
Yeah, those are great points and honestly a tough question. I know I *liked* the book when I read it nearly a decade ago. I did not have much comics reading experience at that time, though, so I wonder about the rose-colored lens as well.
I’m attempting a re-read right now actually, both in relation to Heroes in Crisis and for a “DC Crisis” binge I’m working on for December’s podcast topic. All these issues are in DC Universe 🙂 My early perception is that there are some very good, even iconic moments (Mom Kent asking Superman if he ever gives *his* parents guff, Deathstroke taking on the entire Justice League) clouded by poorly developed “adult themes.” I’m increasingly weary of a story that just *uses* the romantic partners as plot devices like this. It’s well-worn ground, and feels stale. Otherwise, I actually quite like what would otherwise be the book’s focus: how secret identities have been preserved when they seem a bit silly in modern comics.
Identity crisis was awesome. I can’t believe that article slammed it like that.
Christopher Burns says
I finally read Identity Crisis a few months ago, and while it’s nothing amazing, it’s nowhere near as bad as its reputation (The first issue of Heroes in Crisis was infinitely worse.) I liked it a lot more than I expected.