DC's "Heroes in Crisis" by Tom King and Clay Mann is reminiscent of "Identity Crisis" (2004) by Brad Meltzer and Rags Morales.
Make no mistake. "Heroes in Crisis" is an original work. And "Crisis" is an ongoing title word for multiple DC works, sort of like the overuse of "Secret War" and "Infinity" at Marvel.
But "Heroes" and "Identity" – both mega-events – are similar in tone and spirit.
Both have mysteries to solve. Both deal with the slayings of DC characters. Both peek into the morally ambiguous side of the characters called superheroes.
In "Identity," the story deals with how far heroes would go to protect their secret identities which also means protecting the people close to them. The heroes are haunted by a past decision to protect their identities when loved ones are targeted and killed.
"Crisis" opens with the deaths of several heroes staying at Sanctuary, what is essentially a rehab center for superheroes dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. Booster Gold and Harley Quinn awake disoriented, accusing each other of killing everyone staying at Sanctuary.
And so the mystery opens.
The idea of superheroes needing support for the horrors they have witnessed and experienced – given that most of them have been resurrected from the dead and seen multiverses and timelines collapse and converge in their respective storylines – is a novel approach.
King provides many of the nuanced touches that readers have come to expect from his writing. Mann is a wonderful artist.
Readers looking for plenty of action from Trinity – the DC Big Three of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman – may be disappointed. They play a part in "Heroes in Crisis" but their participation is more as supporting roles. Readers tired of seeing Trinity dominate DC mega-events will be delightfully surprised.
All nine issues of "Heroes in Crisis" have been collected in a wonderful trade paperback edition that includes variant covers as well as how colorist Tomeu Morey and Mann developed the fascinating double-page spreads for each chapter.
"Heroes" is not groundbreaking in the fashion of "Identity" but it finds new ways to look at well-known characters and lesser-known characters.