[**Mild Spoilers Ahead for Heroes in Crisis #1!]
The Sanctuary is a place for superheroes in need. The role of a hero exposes one to potentially lasting trauma, and the Sanctuary, set up by the Justice League, is where they go for treatment.
However, tragedy has struck the Sanctuary, and two figures fight it out in the aftermath in the hopes of determining what exactly happened.
Show of hands, whenever major deaths are hinted at in a big story, who exactly is excited? Anyone?
Well, there is the guy who runs my local comic store, Superheroes Comics and Games (Hi Randy!) He believes there should be periodic cleanses of D-list characters.
I know deaths are a means of selling comics, are a marketing relic of the 1990’s comic bubble when a significant character death was thought to boost the resell value of a book, and they can add weight to a crossover like Heroes in Crisis.
That last reason is all-but debunked given how many heroes from the Big Two have been killed and resurrected, and DC’s periodic reboots especially make major character deaths feel immaterial.
That brings us back around to Heroes in Crisis #1, which can be summed up with “Character Death: The Comic.” This book is all character death interrupted occasionally by those two surviving figures battling it out across a rural landscape.
For my money, character death has become mostly annoying. It usually means a character I like won’t be around for a while, but I can’t be genuinely sad because they will almost certainly be back within five years. There are a few characters dead here that I was hoping to see more of in comics soon. It also uses a lot of characters not seen in years as cannon fodder, which is a bit frustrating too.
I was reminded of the writing of the great Brian Michael Bendis here, as the talking-head interview formula is in abundant use. The mystery box tendency of DC is also on full display, as I suspect the coming issues will be jumping back in time to discover what actually happened at Sanctuary in issues to come.
There are some surprisingly brutal moments here, including some characters being turned into actual carrion.
The one aspect of this book that I can get behind is the gorgeous artwork of Clay Mann. The talented artist brings his A-game to the title, and not single page disappoints across the entire comic. Tomeu Morey provides a well-balanced color palette that takes full advantage of the lighting and mood of the book.
Heroes in Crisis #1 is the peak of monetizing character death. The comic rides entirely on the shock of its menagerie of dead characters. In another world where Big Two superheroes didn’t come back from the dead on the regular, it might work. However, it pays no attention to the state of its own industry and has no genuine emotional engagement to offer. Joyless and frustrating, Heroes in Crisis #1 does not earn a recommendation from yours truly.
Heroes in Crisis #1 comes to us courtesy of writer Tom King, artist Clay Mann, color artist Tomeu Morey, letterer Clayton Cowles, cover artists Mann and Morey, and variant covers artists J.G. Jones with Paul Mounts, Francesco Mattina, Mark Brooks, and Ryan Sook.