Written by Tom King and drawn by Clay Mann, Heroes in Crisis was yet another massive event title which promised to ‘change the DC Universe forever’, or at least til the end of June. It is an interesting, but seriously, seriously flawed experiment but more on that in a moment.
The story centres round Sanctuary, a centre created by Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman designed to help superheroes deal with the physiological effects of being a superhero. Basically it’s a drop in centre for people suffering with PTSD. This in itself is a great idea as it deals with the violence intrinsic in superhero comics and forces the reader to confront the fact their favourite genre is a violent one soaked in wish fulfilment. This would be a great chance to do something unique and original as Tom King is certainly a talented enough writer to pull it off.
Except it doesn’t. It fails badly because it doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. Is it a murder mystery or a psychological study of the superhero because merging both doesn’t work as all of the threads become a mess as King also throws in some threads from his Batman run not to mention enacting obvious editorial demands which ends up making the ending pretty worthless.
But is an experiment. It does try to say something different. Mann’s art is pretty good often following a 9-panel grid but again it all feels a bit empty which is a shame as DC need something to give them a hard kick in the arse and this could have been it.
The latest bit of organised insanity from DC Comics is this competition where drawing a picture of the character Harley Quinn in several situations may get you published. Here’s the description of the last of four panels DC would like people to draw.
Harley sitting naked in a bathtub with toasters, blow dryers, blenders, appliances all dangling above the bathtub and she has a cord that will release them all. We are watching the moment before the inevitable death. Her expression is one of “oh well, guess that’s it for me” and she has resigned herself to the moment that is going to happen.
This has caused a wee bit of a kerfuffle as well, it’s such a fucking awful idea. DC have effectively tried to sexualise the actual act of suicide in a way to get what is a bit of cheap publicity which yes, involves people like me pointing out the problem with doing this. It’s a perfect bit of marketing if one has not got ethics or a soul to worry about.
Taken in isolation it doesn’t seem too bad, but when you consider that DC changed the character from this…
There’s nothing essentially wrong with sexualised superheroes if used in the right context as I’ve explained before, but this is different. This is cheap and pandering to a certain large part of the customer base who see female characters as gratification only, which in this context is dubious and wrapped round a sexualised image of suicide is morally dubious at best, or pandering to the worst of people.
Coming around the same time as their decision to refuse a lesbian marriage in their Batwoman title, and just before Suicide Prevention Week, you have to think that DC is run by people who have no idea of the world beyond their own cynical worldview. You’d probably be right. These joyless decisions to ensure that DC closes out a larger readership confirms what the likes of Karen Berger have said about the company that it’s given up on dealing with anyone that isn’t in their current core readership, even if that means alienating people and generally making themselves looking like enormous arseholes.