Comics Review Part 2: Identity Crisis (Issues #5-7)

This week I return to you to finish up my review of Brad Meltzer and Rags Morales’ Identity Crisis.  Just in case you missed last week, here’s Review #1.  I know you wanna know how it ends!  So clicky, clicky.

*Beware Spoilers Abounds— after the jump*

"Chapter Five: Father's Day"

This is the issue where the story picks up some real steam.  With the threat against Lois the superheros become even more aggressive in their search for the killer.  Atom and his ex-wife, Jean are starting to rekindle their relationship since her scare.  We also spend some time getting to know Boomerang, a washed up villain who’s down on his luck and trying to create a relationship with his son that was given up for adoption.   We also see Tim Drake, Robin, and his father sending time together.  The recent events have scared Tim’s father who already has issues with his donning a cape while Robin fears that his dad could also be targeted by the killer.  Robin reluctantly lives his father and both warn each other to be safe.  In another back and forth tension-filled series of pages we watch as Boomerang’s son gets a message from his father telling him that he was going to make him proud while Tim’s father finds a package downstairs containing a gun and note telling him to protect himself.  Tim’s father calls Oracle and Batman and Robin race back to the Drake residence but it’s too late.  Mr. Drake shoots his intruder but not before a bladed boomerang imbeds in his chest.

"Chapter 6: Husbands & Wives"

This issue has probably the most heart-wrenching art in the whole book.  Rags Morales did a fantastic job conveying Tim’s pain.  It gets me every time I see it.  The heroes go back to their regular beat since Boomerang is now dead.  While out together The Flash tells Green Arrow that when he had that picture of Doctor Light’s memory in his head that Batman was there.  It is then that Green Arrow comes completely clean about the incident with Doctor Light.  During Zatanna’s mind-wipe Batman returns to the Satellite to catch the others in the act.  He is appalled by it and tries to stop them.  They try to make Bruce understand why they chose the mind-wipe route but he won’t have any of it.  It is then that they decide that in order to keep their secret, they must also mind-swipe Batman.  Batman!  I really didn’t see that coming.  The issue also focuses on the fact that Batman is not wholly convinced that Boomerang was Sue’s killer and Jean’s attacker.  The note that told Tim’s father to protect himself doesn’t fit.  He finds out that Boomerang was hired by someone else to break into the Drake residence that night.  At the some time Sue’s autopsy reveals that her cause of death is a tiny tear in her brain.  And only someone microscopic could inflict that injury.  The search in then on for Ray Palmer, The Atom.

"Chapter 7: The Hero's Life"

As the others can’t wrap their heads around Ray’s possible betrayal.  Ray is encountering a betrayal of his own.  While discussing Tim’s father’s death with Jean she reveals a bit of information that she shouldn’t know and all at once Ray knows the truth.  Jean found one of his old costumes that allows the wearer to change size and hatched a plan to get Ray back.  It was never her intention of killing Sue, she just wanted to scare her.  And she was the one who sent Tim’s father the gun thinking that a washed-up crook like Boomerang would be no match for even a civilian.  She professes her love and tells Ray she did it all so they could be together.  Ray realizes that Jean is mentally disturbed and has her committed to Arkham Asylum.  Leaving him broken, suffering the loss of the woman he loved, and feeling responsible for the deaths of Sue and Tim’s father.    The League moves on, each reflecting on their losses.  The Flash reveals to the Green Arrow that he’s still upset about the knowledge that they mind-wiped one of their own.  The Green Arrow just explains that no matter the loss, the Justice League always finds a way to move on.

Whoa.  This story took me by surprise.  As a newcomer to the world of DC and superhero comics as a whole, I really didn’t expect this.  Here I was thinking that these comic book heroes were simply… heroic.  I have to admit that I am happy that I was wrong.  This story wasn’t at all about these characters being heroes, this was about these characters being human.  Their flaws, their not-so-noble choices, and the ones that really sacrifice… their loved ones.  My favorite cover from the whole series is #7.  What are the iconic costumes without the man or woman to fill them?  An empty husk.

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