It’s rather disappointing when a series with so much potential becomes something less savory. A book that could have been about a real, important issue has morphed into a murder mystery that makes little progress. But HEROES IN CRISIS #6 starts to remedy that problem in more ways than one.

HEROES IN CRISIS #6 takes a brief respite from the droning murder plot to focus on three characters and the trauma they’ve battled in the Sanctuary program. The issue follows Wally West (the Flash), Harley Quinn, and Gnarrk. The three characters share a fragment of their stories, all leading up to the moment of the murder itself.

But even with this interesting take, the series continues to fall flat. Spoilers ahead!

Trauma Explored in HEROES IN CRISIS #6

HEROES IN CRISIS #6 begins with yet another Sanctuary session. The program asks the participants how many people they’ve saved. Almost none of their answers are clear. Harley is defensive. Wally deflects. Gnarrk gets delightfully philosophical and deep. He maintains that throughout the issue.

HEROES IN CRISIS #6 page 2. Courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Gnarrk reminisces about the times he had before he was frozen in ice — a time of wooly mammoths and saber-tooth tigers. It was primitive. He was constantly worried about dying. But he was, in a way, happy. He describes present-day society as a chain. Gnarrk questions which time period is better, and can’t really come to a conclusion. He just knows he misses his old life, and he escapes into a virtual version of that old world which Sanctuary creates for him. Throughout his monologue, Gnarrk quotes philosophers like Keats and Rousseau.

Wally thinks back on his life since he escaped the time stream. Everyone was so glad to see him. They referred to his return as the return of “hope.” But he was trapped in a fog. Without his family, he questioned if that could be true. Wally doesn’t know how anything even matters without Linda, Jai, and Iris.

Harley comes to Sanctuary to visit Ivy. The two women spend all of HEROES IN CRISIS #6 combating Harley’s trauma in different ways even though Ivy is supposed to be the one recovering. Mainly, they deal with the Joker. Using the Sanctuary tech, Harley is able to take a few swings at her abuser, but it doesn’t help. Harley and Ivy discuss how they’re there for each other. Even though nothing helps, their efforts make it better. Their partner just trying makes a difference.

All Hell Breaks Loose

HEROES IN CRISIS #6 shifts as Sanctuary alerts everyone that something is amiss. As the patients try to escape, Harley and Ivy say, “I love you,” to each other. Gnarrk ruminates about Plato’s teachings just before he dies. Wally holds a dead Roy, crying that he doesn’t want to be alone. Someone then kills him.

HEROES IN CRISIS #6 page 3. Courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Harley walks in on Booster Gold, who coldly responds to her with, “You’re not supposed to be here.”

The art on this particular page, as well as in the rest of the issue, is stunning. Mitch Gerads, Tomeu Morey, and Clayton Cowles all knock it out of the park, but Gerads does some phenomenal acting work with Harley here. He does the same with Gnarrk’s entire story. Clay Mann is always very impressive on those Sanctuary session pages, as well, and he keeps it up with the bookend pages in this issue.

So with the end of HEROES IN CRISIS #6, readers finally know who is responsible for the deaths at Sanctuary. But do we really? Is Booster acting of his own volition, or is he controlled? Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman are still trying to solve a mystery we (kind of) know the answer to. Now that we know Harley is innocent and Booster is not, how will writer Tom King handle that dramatic irony?

It’s Still Not Enough

HEROES IN CRISIS #6 is yet another glimpse at what the series could have been. We focus on the mental state of three isolated characters in this issue. It’s not so much about the murder mystery until the end. And quite frankly, that part was a letdown. So there’s nothing wrong with this issue in particular. It’s more that the entire concept of the series is flawed, so naturally the issue falls short. King spends all this time showing us the aftermath of trauma — an important topic to explore — just to negate that work by killing everyone.

HEROES IN CRISIS #6 page 4. Courtesy of DC Entertainment.

I wanted to see more from Gnarrk in particular. King gave him such an interesting perspective and I feel like he had so much more to say than his few pages in this issue. Harley and Wally also had captivating arcs to explore here, and I just wish those stories could be told. It feels like a waste to kill most of these people before we explore their psyche and the nuances of their particular traumas.

I still want that book, and I’m so disappointed that I won’t be getting it.

HEROES IN CRISIS #6 by Tom King, Mitch Gerads, Tomeau Morey, Clayton Cowles, and Clay Mann
Even though this issue touches on the trauma of three characters, there is so much more to dive into. While the individual character treatments are great, it feels like a waste to end some of the exploration here. The plot takes a step forward, and the art is wonderful as always. There is just a fatal conceptual flaw that is difficult to get past.
91 %
Good, But Not Enough

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