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‘Heroes in Crisis #5’ (review)

Written by Tom King
Illustrated by Clay Mann
Published by DC Comics


“I can’t see very well. I got me a smudge.”


There’s a theory that’s been making the rounds that the party responsible for all the deaths at Sanctuary is… Sanctuary itself.

That somehow, something slipped the track, jumped a gear, shorted the circuitry, corrupted the code, and the result is an A.I. with new subroutines in play, routines that perhaps allow for more… outlandish measures, when it comes to fulfilling its prime directives.

It’s an obvious possibility, in a world where the impossible is a regular occurrence. After all, we still don’t know nearly enough about the technology running Sanctuary. Or for that matter, its prime directives either.

Perhaps, at this point in the investigation, a little more Wisdom of Athena should be brought to bear.

Maybe next issue we’ll start to get a clearer picture. After all, right now our focus is still pretty taken up with all this death. And death does preoccupy a person.

For now, the burden of responsibility lies squarely on Superman. The best of them all. Tasked with the impossible. To give voice to the grief and suffering of a community of heroes who were never meant to share any of that publicly.

Because that’s the job. To live up to the impossible, that ideal of perfection – to reassure those they protect with every semblance of strength and certainty they can muster, locking away their doubts and fears and their all-too human vulnerabilities behind the masks they don each day.

To embody that impossible standard, no matter the cost to themselves.

Of course, no one is better suited to understand the toll this takes, than Sanctuary itself. It’s had hundreds of test cases to learn from, thousands of hours of therapeutic insight into the hearts and minds of heroes to collate, and by now, one assumes, a pretty good feel for the transformative power of a cathartic catalyst.

That is the entire subtext of our story after all. Interwoven throughout the narrative of the crisis and its aftermath. And sure, you could make the case that author Tom King has found the perfect platform to put a little of himself into each of these character sketches, but it begs the question – in a context like this, where the impossible is a regular occurrence – what happens when just the right pieces of information, just the right elements, and insights, and choices, and stories of trauma… and perhaps, just the right power sets… all come together in just the right way?

Isn’t that what therapy is all about? That change? That moment of understanding? The one that frees you up, to become something new?

Soon enough we’ll have our own moment of revelation. For now, we’re still collecting information, and sifting through the stories.

This month’s issue gives us more of that, without any clear resolution and no more than conjecture to proceed from. Still, we do learn a few things.

We learn, for example, that Babs is a pretty damn good strategist. (And that Harley is pretty damn good with that mallet.)

(But then, we knew that already, didn’t we?)

And we learn that while Booster may all-too-often appear to be just an all-American blockhead, he still knows how to run a play.

He knows more than a little bit about time-travel too. Something that ends up telling us something very… intriguing about Wally. Something that doesn’t quite make sense yet, but is sure to soon enough.

Perhaps when it does, we’ll understand just what Wally was trying to say, in the moment before he died.

But speaking of dying, it’s also reinforced for us, courtesy of Steel, that our heroes continue to live in a reality that is, after all, still rather malleable. A reality where even death itself is often just a temporary state of affairs…

And finally, we learn that Clark Kent maybe has a better facility with putting together a press release than his alter ego. Which is a very good thing, given the task ahead of Superman.

He’s certainly not getting any help from Batman.

But on that note, it’s worth noting also, that Skeets really is a true companion to his charge, and good buddy, Booster Gold. And speaking of subroutines, it seems that at least one little A.I. is perfectly capable of hiding what he needs to, from even the World’s Greatest Detective…

Next Issue: Tough love.


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