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‘Heroes in Crisis #5’ (review)

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


“Dude. Bros before heroes.”

Bros before heroes? Who even says that?

Exactly who you’d imagine. And it’s about damn time.

This is a tremendously satisfying issue.

Not because we get too much movement on the plot. There’s really not much new information.

Nothing much in the way of clues. No evidence.

No big reveals.

(Nothing obviously as such, at any rate. But you never know.)

Instead what we get is a much-needed pause, a return to the present, and a wide-angle shot out beyond the tragic events at Sanctuary to give us a better appreciation of just how that reality has been hitting home in the DCU.

Time to catch up with the rest of the family.

Finally, we see Donna Troy in these pages. Along with, might I add, one of the best title page spreads I’ve seen in a good long while thanks to our storytellers Clay Mann and Tom King. (And thank you for that, gentlemen.)

We also (finally), get the Flash and Batman, on the case.

As well as some down-time with Clark and Lois.

And Dinah and Ollie.

And a conference of the Trinity.

We also do get treated to the introduction of a surprise ally for Harley Quinn. That’s fun, if unexpected. Scars before bars, I guess.

And we seem to get further confirmation of Harley’s complicity – as well as yet further reasons to doubt Booster’s – in a completely sensible scene that takes place while he is sitting it out in voluntary house-arrest at the Hall of Justice.

Each scene is a short, insightful, vignette in Tom King’s inimitable style.

Each, as much as anything, is a character sketch. Something he does well.

And something we’ve seen plenty of already. But there’s something about the montage of scenes in this issue which really highlights the power of that approach. A narrative thread that gathers all the tension and negative space, and ties it all together.

The characterizations are real, pointed, and each convey an essential piece of our all-too-human heroes – often, with very little in the way of dialogue or text.

A bit of a master class in doing more with less, and ‘show don’t tell’. Something other bullpen writers might do well to take note of, though admittedly it’s not always the easiest thing to do, despite the medium.

But King does it really well. In fact, some of these scenes are downright spartan.

Others are, let’s say, trojan.

All of them tell us exactly what we need to know. Each are laden with emotion and intelligence and the sort of reactions and choices that make for excellent character depiction. That’s something which is really needed at this point. After all, we’ve all been wondering.

Last but not least, finally – finally – we get more than just a Blue Beetle sighting.

Finally, Ted Kord is back in the jumpsuit, and back in action. Back in the saddle, back in the Bug – and he’s not about to let his best buddy down when Booster needs him most.

So, he does exactly what you’d expect him to.

It’s a triumphant return to the pages of the DCU, of a bromance that none of us have seen for entirely far too long. And it’s handled with a pitch perfect matter-of-factness that assures us that the Blue and the Gold have really never been too far from the picture after all. (Really.)

It’s a confirmation that raises the very definite likelihood that an important chapter of the Justice League is still alive and well in the current constantly re-forming DCU continuity. Along with everything else that could imply…

It all goes down just as our mysterious antagonist with access to all the video files from Sanctuary finally gets what he (or she) (or even it) wants: Exposure. The secret of Sanctuary revealed.

Proof that the world’s heroes are fallible, and fragile. Proof that they are not just the invulnerable gods and icons the world maybe needs them to be.

Begging the questions still – Who would want to do that? And to what purpose? And how did they know about the video logs in the first place, when they were never meant to be there at all?

Because whoever that is… it isn’t Harley.

Next Issue: Bros, Foes & Dynamicker Duos


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