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  1. #16
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    I'm probably coming from a slightly different angle here. I don't view Heroes in Crisis as a good work, but I think it's an interesting work. Not in spite of its flaws but because of its flaws. I discussed its relation to genre earlier, but now I want to focus on its themes, or rather what I see as its lack of it.

    In this regard, I view theme as what a work is about when its world, its characters, and its plot has been removed. To take a famous example, I think the themes of The Lord of the Rings are friendship, duty, and honour, and how they relate to each other. Duty and honour might be poor markers there: honour is much more about knowing ones own values and keeping to them than anything else, and duty is much more about carrying on than anything imposed from above.

    Or to take a more recent example, I just read Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale, and I'd judge its themes to be trust, trauma and isolation: how trust can be lost, the implications thereof, but also how trust can be regained and isolation broken.

    So what are the themes of Heroes in Crisis, and how does the work manage them?

    An obvious start would be to look at trauma, PTSD, and mental health. It manages to show lots of characters dealing with mental health issues, but to me it takes a too wide and shallow approach to wrestle with the theme properly: instead of taking a single character and investigating their emotions at depth (like Under the Moon does), we are given a scattershot of various characters referencing various traumas of their past. If the message is that you are not alone and can get help, that message is undercut because the help given by Sanctuary was decidedly unhelpful.

    Another potential one is isolation and alienation. It fits with Wonder Woman's and Superman's booth sessions, and certainly with Wally West. But we never see how isolation is developed—it is simply assumed from references to backstories—nor how it is managed and broken. On the contrary, Sanctuary as set up is by itself an isolating and alienating environment. It is ostensibly the realisation that he is not alone in being traumatised that broke Wally.

    So rather than a theme, something that is explored, isolation is more of a moral: isolation is bad for you. It's not explored why and how it is bad, or how it is developed, or how it can be broken and overcome. And contrary to it being a moral, the very act of breaking isolation causes a total breakdown. In a way, such a moral becomes circular: don't become isolated because it's bad for you, and once you are, then not being alone anymore will break you even worse.

    The story has also been read as an analogue of school shootings. Here it breaks down to me because most school shootings are highly planned events: they are not the products of sudden passion or breakdown of control. So Wally as the guilty party does not fit that model at all. Likewise, the story is not really exploring survivor's trauma. There are some hints in how Batgirl and Harley Quinn bond in #4, but it never goes further than that, and that scene focuses more on past overcome trauma and the disjoint between who they are and how others see them.

    Then we come to themes that King may not have intended. If the theme is that life is suffering and then you die, that would certainly fit to Wally's arc or the way the Trinity act, but it doesn't seem to fit "Blue and Gold and the Dynamicker Duo", and I doubt it will even after the finale.

    So is there a theme to Heroes in Crisis? Bugger if I know. But I'd be interested in if any of you here have any better ideas.
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

  2. #17
    Obsessed & Compelled Bored at 3:00AM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjn View Post
    I'm probably coming from a slightly different angle here. I don't view Heroes in Crisis as a good work, but I think it's an interesting work. Not in spite of its flaws but because of its flaws. I discussed its relation to genre earlier, but now I want to focus on its themes, or rather what I see as its lack of it.

    In this regard, I view theme as what a work is about when its world, its characters, and its plot has been removed. To take a famous example, I think the themes of The Lord of the Rings are friendship, duty, and honour, and how they relate to each other. Duty and honour might be poor markers there: honour is much more about knowing ones own values and keeping to them than anything else, and duty is much more about carrying on than anything imposed from above.

    Or to take a more recent example, I just read Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale, and I'd judge its themes to be trust, trauma and isolation: how trust can be lost, the implications thereof, but also how trust can be regained and isolation broken.

    So what are the themes of Heroes in Crisis, and how does the work manage them?

    An obvious start would be to look at trauma, PTSD, and mental health. It manages to show lots of characters dealing with mental health issues, but to me it takes a too wide and shallow approach to wrestle with the theme properly: instead of taking a single character and investigating their emotions at depth (like Under the Moon does), we are given a scattershot of various characters referencing various traumas of their past. If the message is that you are not alone and can get help, that message is undercut because the help given by Sanctuary was decidedly unhelpful.

    Another potential one is isolation and alienation. It fits with Wonder Woman's and Superman's booth sessions, and certainly with Wally West. But we never see how isolation is developed—it is simply assumed from references to backstories—nor how it is managed and broken. On the contrary, Sanctuary as set up is by itself an isolating and alienating environment. It is ostensibly the realisation that he is not alone in being traumatised that broke Wally.

    So rather than a theme, something that is explored, isolation is more of a moral: isolation is bad for you. It's not explored why and how it is bad, or how it is developed, or how it can be broken and overcome. And contrary to it being a moral, the very act of breaking isolation causes a total breakdown. In a way, such a moral becomes circular: don't become isolated because it's bad for you, and once you are, then not being alone anymore will break you even worse.

    The story has also been read as an analogue of school shootings. Here it breaks down to me because most school shootings are highly planned events: they are not the products of sudden passion or breakdown of control. So Wally as the guilty party does not fit that model at all. Likewise, the story is not really exploring survivor's trauma. There are some hints in how Batgirl and Harley Quinn bond in #4, but it never goes further than that, and that scene focuses more on past overcome trauma and the disjoint between who they are and how others see them.

    Then we come to themes that King may not have intended. If the theme is that life is suffering and then you die, that would certainly fit to Wally's arc or the way the Trinity act, but it doesn't seem to fit "Blue and Gold and the Dynamicker Duo", and I doubt it will even after the finale.

    So is there a theme to Heroes in Crisis? Bugger if I know. But I'd be interested in if any of you here have any better ideas.
    Thank you for your thoughts.

    You could be right that King is juggling with too many ideas and characters here to do any of them justice. It’s possible that King himself realized this, which is why the number of issues went up.

    I think there’s still more to be revealed about the true nature of the massacre, so we’ll see if it qualifies as something that was meticulously planned or was an accident that spiraled out of control.

    The Puddlers subplot also feels like there’s more to it than what we currently know. As it is, all of Wally’s supposed attempts to stall the investigation seem way more complicated than they’d need to be. The idea of the Sanctuary confessionals being leaked is one of the more intriguing ideas that King is playing with. I would hate to see it wasted.

  3. #18
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bored at 3:00AM View Post
    Thank you for your thoughts.

    You could be right that King is juggling with too many ideas and characters here to do any of them justice. It’s possible that King himself realized this, which is why the number of issues went up.

    I think there’s still more to be revealed about the true nature of the massacre, so we’ll see if it qualifies as something that was meticulously planned or was an accident that spiraled out of control.

    The Puddlers subplot also feels like there’s more to it than what we currently know. As it is, all of Wally’s supposed attempts to stall the investigation seem way more complicated than they’d need to be. The idea of the Sanctuary confessionals being leaked is one of the more intriguing ideas that King is playing with. I would hate to see it wasted.
    Yeah, it would shift things markedly thematically if Nemesis played a big role or it was all a simulation, as some have theorised here. I was mostly focusing on themes that would fit Booster, Harley, and Wally, and have been unable to find anything relating to them. Or perhaps better put: the story works against all the themes I have been looking at in the story.

    You're right about the Puddlers and the leak. Doing a story only about the leakage and its consequences could have been a great story in and of itself, you don't even need any murders for that. But that goes into what-if territory.
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

  4. #19
    Obsessed & Compelled Bored at 3:00AM's Avatar
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    I can't say that I'm not disappointed in this final issue. My hopes that King was going to explain Wally's actions more fully were obviously unfounded and that's a real shame, because it sours the whole story for me, when it had so, so much great stuff in there. There's so much meat on the bone to chew on, but a lot of that potential was largely wasted because King failed to give it a conclusion that tied all those ideas together in a satisfying way for me.

    The real kicker of all this is that the angry fans who were already upset over Wally's piss-poor treatment over the past several years have been given even more of an excuse to rage and rail against DC Editorial. That isn't healthy for them, it's not healthy for the comics industry, and it's not healthy for comics fandom in general. If you are going to deal with subject matter like this, you better be damn sure that the story is worth it. This was a real big swing, but it simply wasn't a homerun. It wasn't a strikeout, either. To stretch my baseball metaphor beyond all sense, King got on base, but he ended up hitting one of his own team with the ball and giving him a serious injury that's going to put him on the injured list for at least a few games

    Of course, it's only a matter of time before someone (probably Johns) pulls a "The Yellow Impurity was Parallax all along!" retcon to all this and explains away Wally's still inexplicable Speed Force explosion and his cruel & out of character actions afterwards. It may take a few years, but it will happen. Wally West is going be stuck as a sad sack for most of that time thanks to this mess though and that's a damn shame.

    Sorry for being a bummer, but this place is meant for readers who were enjoying Heroes in Crisis, even if they had problems with it. While my problems with Heroes in Crisis only grew with the story's ending, that may not be the case for you. If you ended up enjoying what King did here, this can still be a place for you to talk about what you liked, or what you didn't.

    For those of you who were never on board with this story, please leave this thread be. Again, thanks for your understanding.

  5. #20
    Astonishing Member Korath's Avatar
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    I was glad to see Sideways here. And the Harley/Ivy panels were awesome.

  6. #21
    Obsessed & Compelled Bored at 3:00AM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Korath View Post
    I was glad to see Sideways here. And the Harley/Ivy panels were awesome.
    In hindsight, the Sanctuary booth sessions are the highlights of this story for me. Each one of those captions is just so chock full of great characterization. Hal's was particularly good.

  7. #22
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    The Dark multiverse theory was better then this awful issue.

  8. #23
    Astonishing Member Jekyll's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bored at 3:00AM View Post
    The real kicker of all this is that the angry fans who were already upset over Wally's piss-poor treatment over the past several years have been given even more of an excuse to rage and rail against DC Editorial. That isn't healthy for them, it's not healthy for the comics industry, and it's not healthy for comics fandom in general. If you are going to deal with subject matter like this, you better be damn sure that the story is worth it. This was a real big swing, but it simply wasn't a homerun. It wasn't a strikeout, either. To stretch my baseball metaphor beyond all sense, King got on base, but he ended up hitting one of his own team with the ball and giving him a serious injury that's going to put him on the injured list for at least a few games .
    Eh, I mosly quit raging and just have stopped giving DC my money. Way better stuff to read from other companies and I am having a blast discovering new writers and stories elsewhere.
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  9. #24
    Astonishing Member legion_quest's Avatar
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    I appreciate the art work from Clay Mann, and the story that King seemingly wanted to tell regarding mental health and trauma.

    However, the execution, be it planned or editorially mandated, does not deserve appreciation. That was a terrible ending, and a terrible 'message' about mental health and trauma that came out of it, despite how it started.

    Combined with some really awful choices and out of character moments, and yeah.....I appreciate Clay Mann's art work.
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  10. #25
    Obsessed & Compelled Bored at 3:00AM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jekyll View Post
    Eh, I mosly quit raging and just have stopped giving DC my money. Way better stuff to read from other companies and I am having a blast discovering new writers and stories elsewhere.
    This would be a good way to handle the situation. If any publisher stops putting out stuff you want to read, it's just best to move on. When Emerald Twilight hit in '94, I wasted far too much time and money when I should have just found other comics I would enjoy more.

  11. #26
    Astonishing Member HandofPrometheus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bored at 3:00AM View Post
    In hindsight, the Sanctuary booth sessions are the highlights of this story for me. Each one of those captions is just so chock full of great characterization. Hal's was particularly good.
    It was nice to see Vixen, Fire, Ice and Dr.Light.

  12. #27
    Anyone. Anywhere.Anytime. Arsenal's Avatar
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    I think HiC would've benefited from being a sequel to a Sanctuary mini instead of trying to be its own thing that tries to juggle a bunch of stuff but couldn't handle it. Perhaps a change in cast to characters that might better fit what Sanctuary was supposed to be about might've helped too

    That's not to say that there aren't aspects of the book that I enjoyed, just wish some aspects of it were better handled.

  13. #28
    Obsessed & Compelled Bored at 3:00AM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arsenal View Post
    I think HiC would've benefited from being a sequel to a Sanctuary mini instead of trying to be its own thing that tries to juggle a bunch of stuff but couldn't handle it. Perhaps a change in cast to characters that might better fit what Sanctuary was supposed to be about might've helped too

    That's not to say that there aren't aspects of the book that I enjoyed, just wish some aspects of it were better handled.
    Yeah, I think this might have worked better with a different killer and a few more issues to flesh out the Puddlers subplot, which went nowhere.

    I really thought all of the Wally stuff dealing with his wife and children was fantastic. It's the rest of the Wally stuff that didn’t work for me at all.

  14. #29
    The Fastest Post Alive! Buried Alien's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bored at 3:00AM View Post
    This would be a good way to handle the situation. If any publisher stops putting out stuff you want to read, it's just best to move on. When Emerald Twilight hit in '94, I wasted far too much time and money when I should have just found other comics I would enjoy more.
    But, if you had left and NEVER come back, you would not have witnessed Hal and the Green Lantern Corps' glorious resurrection a decade later.

    So my modus operandi is: if there's nothing I like this month, there's always next month. It's astonishing how abruptly and unexpectedly things can turn around in comics, for better or worse.

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  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bored at 3:00AM View Post
    In hindsight, the Sanctuary booth sessions are the highlights of this story for me. Each one of those captions is just so chock full of great characterization. Hal's was particularly good.
    I would have definitely bought (and probably enjoyed) a Sanctuary mini-series that was basically just booth/therapy sessions of various A-D level heroes.

    It may not have been as big a commercial success, but I think it definitely would have been a critical one. (Or they should have had a mini series before this one that established Sanctuary)

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