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‘Heroes in Crisis #7’ (review)

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

“I’m not very god at super-heroing.”
“Yeah. Me neither.”

Today marks the drop of the seventh issue of Heroes in Crisis, and one thing we can say seven months in now, is that author Tom King is remarkably good at not giving away the game.

With only two more issues to go, the second and final of which will almost undoubtedly be taken up with resolution and wrap-up, it’s striking that at this point we still don’t actually know exactly what’s happened.

I mean we know more than we did, sure. It was pretty clear by the end of last issue for example, that whatever final tragedy befell Sanctuary, it almost certainly involved Wally West to a greater degree than maybe any of us were going to like.

This, despite seeing him get whacked for a second time – or at least, from a second frame of reference altogether.

That impression is only re-enforced this month. In fact, if anything Wally seems to share our dismay, in a remarkable sequence of seeming atonement and redress that, completely aside from its oblique significance, hardly makes any sense at all.

It’s pretty though. (Thanks, once again to the star phenom that is the talent of Clay Mann, with the fine sensibilities of colorist Tomeu Morey.) And it’s pretty wondrous.

The question is why.

The atonement part is pretty suggestive, of course. But whether that means that Wally West for some reason completely skipped the track to become just another homicidal psycho DC Speedster – as many are now currently speculating – or that he simply feels complicit or somehow responsible for what’s happened – as the scenes in which he’s cradling the dead body of his friend Roy Harper in his arms would seem to suggest – whatever the case may actually be, we still don’t really know.

Add to that, the fact that there seems to be a still-more-than-somewhat confusing element of time travel involved in this whole affair, and it all remains quite unclear what the exact sequence of events were on that fateful afternoon at Sanctuary, much less what Wally’s role in the whole thing was precisely, much less where he’s been for the last 5 days.

Or why he feels the needs to go back now.

Except, possibly, that guilt is just that powerful a motivation. Or maybe… he’s just seen this rodeo already.

What we do know, by now, is that poor Mr. West has been hurting. Badly.

With all that’s happened recently with the Flash family, and the very difficult state of affairs that Wally West’s triumphant return to DC continuity presented, it was perhaps a little too easy for everyone – friends, colleagues, and we the readers alike – to chalk up Wally’s heartache at the loss of his family, as just one more example of the super-heroic vagaries of living life in the fast lane.

Arguably, that’s part of what this whole project was set up to address. It’s pretty notable though that, when it comes right down to it, it takes just a few deft strokes of Tom King’s pen to drive deeper to the heart of Wally’s true anguish than what months of frenetic, super-fraught, comics sequences over in The Flash and the Titans books managed to do before him.

(And as a side note let me just say that, once again, I find myself deeply unhappy with the way that depictions of Barry Allen as the Flash seem to have shifted post-Flashpoint from that of true-blue and ultra-stable wonder adventurer, into a consistently and remarkably irresponsible, self-involved, part goofy/part anally-retentive, and frequently overly-righteous version of himself. A judgment I suspect Mr. Allen will share with me in spades, if all this ends up shaking out as it looks likely it might.)

All this being said, I think it’s pretty clear that Wally is being set up to be presented as a particularly, if tragically, sympathetic figure. (Just look at next month’s cover art.)

Maybe that’s why it’s taken 7 issues to get us this far.

Thankfully that seems to be just what his colleagues are inclined to believe still at this point themselves.

Which is why we find Booster Gold and Harley Quinn putting aside their mutual distrust and their understandably damning convictions, to come to precisely the conclusion that all good heroes, and any good friend, would do. Time to save the day.

Mind you, Harley is perhaps a little confused on that point. (Mind you, I’m also a little confused myself about Wally’s relationship with Booster and Beetle these days. But that’s another question entirely.) Batgirl and Blue Beetle are nothing if not settling influences on their respective marginal charges however. And when it comes right down to it, Booster and Harley may just have the right instincts for this business after all.

Good thing for Booster.

Ah, catharsis.

They even have a plan. A pretty good one too. And it seems Booster isn’t just halfway decent at calling plays, turns out he does a pretty good half-time pep talk to boot. More or less.

But let’s be clear. We know by now that whatever these two buddy acts find on the other side of their Hail Mary rescue play, isn’t going to be pretty. And there’s still a lot to clear up yet. Like who’s spilling the secrets of all our favorite super-heroes to the press? And why do Booster and Harley actually have such wildly different memories of Wally’s death? And how much transformation can even Wally West be expected to go through in just 5 days? And what exactly is Sanctuary’s history and role in all this after all?

So many questions. But time’s running out. It can’t be long before the answer to these and every other question we have, will finally be answered for us. Can’t be long at all.

Can it?

Next Issue: Keeping up with the Wests


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