I was never going to be a fan of HEROES IN CRISIS #9. If you’ve read any of my previous reviews of this series, you could figure that out. As we saw with the end of GAME OF THRONES, when your setup is flawed it’s hard to recover and end with an excellent finale. And yes, this issue of HEROES IN CRISIS made me cry.

There is a moment in the middle of this issue where we see the message writer Tom King was trying to end, as flawed as his execution was. And that moment absolutely shines in a series with so little to smile about. A moment that asks us to forgive everything that came before — questionable character decisions, misrepresentations of mental health, and the overshadowing of an important narrative by a murder mystery. And while the moment is excellent, it’s not enough to rectify the past wrongs of HEROES IN CRISIS.

HEROES IN CRISIS #9 page 1. Courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Major spoilers for HEROES IN CRISIS #9 ahead!

The Resolution of HEROES IN CRISIS #9

This issue begins as the others did, with confessionals from various heroes who took part in the Sanctuary program. There are many single panel moments from a plethora of characters, some more recognizable than others. There are humor and heartbreak in these pages. This is where King has soared in the series. In HEROES IN CRISIS #9, I was most moved by the Robins. They are each so sure of the other former-Robins’ identities but are mystified about how they fit in and what makes them special.

While these panels are funny on the surface, they pack quite the emotional punch. We jump into the main story at the moment when Wally has to kill his older self in order to plant the body and get away with framing Harley Quinn and Booster Gold for the slaughter of the Sanctuary participants. Harley, Batgirl, Booster, and Blue Beetle help to intervene here. Harley gets a moment to connect with the resurrected Poison Ivy, which is truly beautiful.

HEROES IN CRISIS #9 page 4. Courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Then, Wally talks himself out of the whole plot. (This is the part that made me cry, but more on that in a moment.) Booster explains a whole time travel plot that would break Wally from the cycle of dead bodies he’s in. And to be quite honest, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. And it doesn’t seem to make sense to Wally, either. But the point is that Wally is not going to go back in time to start another Flashpoint crisis. He will be held accountable for his actions. That’s his choice. Before he faces Justice League, Harley knees him in the groin for killing everyone, but specifically Ivy, and then framing her. And I quite liked that.

Struggle with Trauma

Wally gives a speech in HEROES IN CRISIS #9 where he tells his other self that he’s not alone. That even though his trauma made him feel isolated, he was never alone. Other people can relate to our traumas and our mental illness. Most of what has helped me in my own struggles with my anxiety is knowing that I’m not alone in it. I know I have people around me who get it and are there to support me when I’m going through the worst of it. I’m here to help them in turn. That support system does wonders for so many people with this challenge in their lives.

It literally moved me to tears to see Wally tell himself that he has that. And he realizes that helping other people could be the way he helps himself. This is a beautiful moment for the character, and it very much works. However, I still cannot ignore the implication that Wally not realizing these things at first made him kill a lot of people. The idea of not getting help makes you a danger to others, that your mental illness and trauma make you inherently violent, is damaging. It does not matter if the resolution was a good one, the path there was unacceptable. And that’s why HEROES IN CRISIS #9 is still a letdown.

A Good Looking Book

Whenever I talk about HEROES IN CRISIS with other people in the industry, they all say the same thing: “It’s a shame, cause it looks beautiful.” And they’re right. One good, consistent thing about HEROES IN CRISIS #9 and the rest of the series is the stellar artwork.

HEROES IN CRISIS #9 page 6. Courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Clay Mann, Tomeu Morey, and Clayton Cowles are a phenomenal art team, and their work is impeccable. The scenery and settings they create in this book absolutely jump off the page. Lettering gets a lot of dialogue in each panel without it ever feeling crowded or cramped or difficult to read. There is no disputing that the art is the champion of HEROES IN CRISIS #9. It almost evokes more emotion than the writing does.

It truly is a shame that the art throughout this series was overshadowed by the flawed concept, baffling character work, and an irresponsible narrative. (And that is coming from a HUGE Tom King fan.) While there was an almost successful effort to get this book to end on a high note, HEROES IN CRISIS #9 is far from sticking the landing. And that is a shame.

HEROES IN CRISIS #9 by Tom King, Clay Mann, Tomeu Morey, and Clayton Cowles
The book was never going to stick the landing. It has a flawed concept and weak character choices, and the turn of the last issue was irresponsible at best. Even so, the art is absolutely phenomenal and there were even a couple heartfelt moments in this issue.
65 %
Finally Over

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