This one isn’t going to go over well with many DC Comics fans. Not even a little bit. 

Heroes In Crisis 1
Written by Tom King
Pencils and Inks by Clay Mann
Colors by Tomeu Morey 

Booster Gold and Harley Quinn walk into a diner and order some food. 

It sounds like the start of a terrible joke, and I’m sure there are going to be many out there who think the first issue of Tom King’s examination of grief and trauma in the DC Universe is a bad joke, too. There’s a lot of death here – some of it makes sense, some of it is surprising – and the loss will surely be felt throughout the publisher’s main line of books for months to come. 

But in the end, we have no idea how much of it will stand up, because one of the pivotal characters in the story is Booster Gold, a guy who travels through time and fixes irregularities in the time stream. 

But that comes later. Whatever fixes that may be made by the final issue, we still have to deal with what we saw in this opening chapter. And what we saw was a lot of death. Enough death to give the publisher’s Holy Trinity – Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman – some pause. 

The story of HEROES IN CRISIS centers around a home in Kansas created by the Big Three to give their comrades-in-arms a place to go to deal with the stress and anxiety that comes with living in their world. We’ve seen hints of it in other books. Over the last couple of months, we’ve seen troubled characters heading off to Sanctuary to try and find some peace. It’s been a uniquely old-school build to this series that raised expectations. And DC Comics has been promising some big deaths in this first issue. They certainly delivered. 

Spoilers from here on out. 

The deaths are what everyone will be talking about for a while. Maybe not the deaths of the JSA’s Citizen Steel or Blue Jay or Hot Spot. I don’t even know who Hot Spot is. But the deaths of Wally West and Roy Harper… those are going to have some ramifications. Especially Wally. 

The current era of DC Comics was built around the return of Wally West from the Speed Force. In addition to their return to the Titans, both Wally and Roy had reinforced their ties to their former mentors, Barry Allen and Oliver Queen, over the last year or so before going off to the Sanctuary. Wally and Roy represented the best and the worst of their generation of heroes, both with so much potential, but overshadowed by the heroes with whom they used to work. Wally even took over as The Flash after Barry died in CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. But as soon as Geoff Johns brought Barry back, Wally was again sent to the background. 

How big of an effect will their deaths have on the tone and tenor of the DC Universe? It probably won’t be as big as the likely outsized show of protest to the deaths flowing through Twitter today. 

The bigger mystery will be just who killed all these heroes. Booster Gold and Harley Quinn are positioned as the main suspects – but only to each other. Booster assumes Harley did the deed because she’s a psychopathic murderer. But she tells him she’s innocent. It was Booster who killed them all. 

Being written by Tom King, I could believe that Booster kind of lost it and killed everyone. In his last appearance, in BATMAN, King wrote Booster as an idiot who would be easily outsmarted by pretty much anyone. It was a stark contrast to how Booster was presented by Dan Jurgens in ACTION COMICS, and the complete opposite of the hero he was built up to be when Geoff Johns wrote him. 

The first issue of HEROES IN CRISIS packed an emotional punch and has me wondering what King has planned for the rest of the series. It could be a great reflection of what it means to be a hero and how some manage to overcome the stress they experience. Or it could become another divisive story like Brad Meltzer’s IDENTITY CRISIS. I’m honestly not sure which is more likely, but I’m willing to read on to find out.