Comics Review Part 1: Identity Crisis (Issues #1-4)

I have mentioned on the show a couple times now that I am on a mission to educate myself further in the world of Comic Books.  I wanted to name this column Karen’s Komic Korner, you know just to be both cheeky and irritating at the same time, until it was quickly pointed out that naming my comic reviews “KKK” was not the best idea.  Damn the Klan and the Kardashians for ruining purposeful misspellings in the name of alliteration.  Hmph!  On a side note, I am happy Ramses’ last name starts with a “G” because my middle name is Kristine.

Back to the topic at hand.  At the urging of friend of the podcast and my comics guru, “The David”, I fired up comiXology and purchased Identity Crisis #1… by the end of the evening I purchased all 7 issues and was immersed in a part of DC’s world that I never knew existed.

*Beware Spoilers Abounds— after the jump*

I have a confession:  I read a lot of comics and graphic novels, none of which are published by the names that are synonymous with comic books, DC Comics or Marvel.  Gasp, I know.  My knowledge of these worlds are all basic geek knowledge tidbits and what I have seen in movies and television shows.  I know enough to get by but I decided “just getting by” wasn’t good enough.  So, a few weeks back, I ventured into the world of superheroes, mutants, and a whole lot of spandex.

Last fall, DC released The New 52, a complete reboot of their most popular titles.  When I heard about this I thought, “It’s kismet! Finally, a starting point!”  So, last month I picked up The New 52 Omnibus which contained all the #1 issues of the reboot but when I opened the Amazon box containing what felt like a cinder block I was flabbergasted.  Holy crap!  My initial thought in purchasing the Omnibus was to just read the first issues and choose some of the titles that I liked and catch up on those.  I had no idea how many #1 issues there would be!  So, my “quick read” turned into something much more epic and I am still making my way through the unwieldy book.

"Chapter One: Coffin"

Then came the suggestion to read 2004′s Identity Crisis written by Brad Meltzer.  I really like Brad Meltzer, I watch Decoded and I enjoyed his run on Buffy Season 8.  So, my expectations were high right off the bat.  I swiped to the first panel to find Elongated Man.  Elongated Man?  I groaned out loud.  Now, hear me out.  I didn’t grow up with these heroes, I am familiar with The Justice League power players and a few fringe DC characters like Power Girl and Zatanna but other than that I am a pretty clueless 30-something year old woman reading about Elongated Man.  My initial reaction was, “Really?  That is a lame name.”  But I pressed on.  I knew I had to get past the initial feeling of silliness in order to really get to the crux of what these characters are really about.  Elongated Man, Ralph Dibny,  while on a stakeout with the newbie hero is explaining that it’s his birthday and each year, his wife Sue, always plans an elaborate surprise.  The panels are cutting between Ralph reminiscing lovingly over past surprises from his wife while Sue Dibny is being brutally murdered in their home.  Issue #1 closes on fire sprinklers raining down on Ralph weeping while his arms wrap continually around his dead wife, his face melting in misery.

"Chapter Two: House of Lies"

One thing about Sue Dibny, she was beloved by every superhero out there.  Her funeral is filled with a Who’s Who of the DC Universe.  Ralph can hardly contain himself, literally, as his grief causes his body to lose substance.  Wonder Woman begins giving a heartfelt speech when the narrative switching to Green Arrow.  He immediately begins devising a plan to catch Sue’s killer.  As the funeral ends the different superhero teams, Justice League, The Outsiders, The Titans, and others scatter to follow leads.  Once everyone clears out Green Arrow secretly meets with Elongated Man, Hawkman, The Atom, Black Canary, and Zatanna. Once they are sure they are alone they begin to discuss who they think the killer really is, Doctor Light.  Hawkman, using his super hawk eyes, spots Green Lantern, Kyle Raynor and The Flash, Wally West, both eavesdropping.  They demand to know what the cloak and dagger is all about.  The group explains an incident that took place years ago when Doctor Light went mad and raped Sue Dibney.  Upon being caught he vows to return and kill her and kill all of their loved ones.  While trying to subdue him the group makes a drastic discussion along with Kyle and Wally’s predecessors, Hal Jordan and Barry Allen, the original Green Lantern and Flash.  Reluctantly they all agree to allow Zatanna to wipe his mind of all memories of the incident in order to prevent him from further harming any of them.  The group hunt down Doctor Light only to find him being protected by Deathstroke.

"Chapter Three: Serial Killer"

The fight with Deathstroke is hard-fought but they finally take him down by Green Arrow stabbing him in the eye with an arrow.  While subduing Doctor Light he breaks and all the memories they wiped flood back.  Both villains escape as Superman arrives on the scene.  Supes is suspicious but Wally covers for the group.  Superman reveals that evidence has been revealed to show that Doctor Light is not the killer.  The Flash later pulls Green Arrow aside and demands that he tell him everything.  It turns out that mind-wiping was a common practice for the group who Green Arrow refers to as “the clean-up crew.”  The bigwigs catch the villains, get the glory, and are off to save another day while the second string is left with the mess.  They used the method in extreme cases and tried not to abuse it.  This doesn’t set well with Wally who sees the practice as being amoral.   The issue ends with The Atom’s ex-wife, Jean Loring,  being strung up in a noose and left to die.  There appears to be a serial killer on the loose.

"Chapter Four: Who Benefits"

Atom rushes through the phone lines to save Jean who had just called him and he cuts the rope in time.  The two share a moment as she expresses her gratitude.  This issue spends some time among the supervillians who all agree that pissing off the heroes this way is not good because nobody benefits.  Doctor Light has also been telling people that the heroes wiped his mind leaving the villains feeling afraid.  There is a great scene where Wonder Woman visits an inmate they suspect as having knowledge of the killer where she uses her lasso to get the truth.  Not once is anything more than her hand shown within the panels of this issue yet her presence and power is palpable.  Also, this cover is effing awesome!  Meanwhile, Batman has been Mr. Aloof and investigating the murder on his own.  After running every possible scenario, “the world’s greatest detective” just cannot wrap his mind around it and one question plays over and over again in his mind, “who benefits?”  In desperation, Green Arrow visits Hal Jordan’s grave and begs his best friend, now The Spectre, to tell him who the killer is.  He wants to but there are rules.  The issue closes on Lois Lane receiving a letter stating that they know who her husband is… and that she is next.

Come back next week were I review the final three issues in the series and let you know exactly what I thought of it.

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  1. Pingback: Comics Review Part 2: Identity Crisis (Issues #5-7) | Monkey In The Cage

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