Sep 10, 2008

[Comics] Identity Crisis

Identity CrisisIn recent years, comic book story writing has matured and more and more stories are trying to be more serious. This has also resulted in increased violence for some titles and more complex stories than have ever been conceived before.

This is a great example of DC Comics taking things to another level, although you have to admit they have been trying to push their limits more and more these days. Well that and of course a more than generous amount of retconning, but that's a completely different story, hehe.

While this title does have the word "crisis" at the end, this is not part of the "official" trilogy of Crisis titles. However it does play a key role in explaining what exactly happened to make Batman so paranoid come Infinite Crisis.

Sue DibnyImage via Wikipedia Identity Crisis is an interesting look at the somewhat shadier side of the superhero business. While you have the big guns like Batman, Superman and Wonder woman drawing the attention of the world most of the time, you have the second-stringers like Green Arrow and Hawkman cleaning up after them to deal with the loose ends. When Sue Dibny, wife of the Elongated Man is found murdered, the investigation ultimately reveals a dark secret many of the heroes have been keeping secret for years and the knowledge of their actions could lead to terrible consequences.

First off, the story was just amazingly compelling. What starts out as a murder-mystery involving a serial killer seemingly targeting the loved ones of various superheroes becomes a long hard look at how far some superheroes will go in the pursuit of justice. In this case, it starts with erasing certain memories and goes all the way to major personality adjustments bordering on a full-blown lobotomy. I don't want to go into too much detail since it sort of spoils part of the draw of this particular storyline, but by now you can already understand why I started this post talking about the maturity of certain comic book titles.

I really liked this story and to some extent I was surprised that I did. In many ways it wasn't really about superheroes in their main element, fighting super villains and all that. No, this was about the fine edge we dance upon when it comes to making moral decisions in the name of justice or some higher authority. Some things may seem inhuman to do, but given the nature of the crimes we face or the circumstances presented to us, we sometimes cross into that world of gray when we think that the ends can justify certain methods.

It does masterfully in presenting the heroes as more human and not simply perfect judges of character who somehow remain above all of us in terms of doing the right things. For far too long we've dealt with heroes who are just so perfect that they can never do wrong or we get the really edgy ones who are touted as "anti-heroes" and behave to somewhat an extreme. No, in this book the heroes people people in funny costumes who fought the good fight and sometimes get forced into making truly hard decisions.


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