Heroes in Crisis #5 Review

by Hussein Wasiti on January 30, 2019

Written by Tom King
Art by Clay Mann and Travis Moore
Colouring by Tomeu Morey
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
I'm not a mean person. I'm not a mean reviewer. I used to be mean, but that was when I was new at this game and didn't know any better. Having met and spoken to many comic creators, and have developed friendships with some of them, I know better than to blindly say something is terrible without giving enough justification and reason to employ this label, which honestly demeans a person's very hard work. That being said, this comic is terrible. It's easily the worst thing Tom King has ever done, and I've read everything he's ever done. This is easily the worst thing Clay Mann has ever done, and I've read a lot of his comics. The sheen is gone, the shock value is gone, and there has to be something of substance left in order to get readers involved and interested. There is nothing.
Mann's art here is especially concerning. To me it seems that his intentions don't cross over with King's intentions when it comes to the story. King is obviously trying to tell an emotional story, one that utilises grief and trauma to get the reader to care about the story. Whether or not this works is another story, but Mann's art doesn't seem to reflect this. His characters are, simply, much to stiff and feel very lifeless. He's injecting as much sex appeal into this comic as possible. He's probably trying his best to make this thing as interesting to look at as possible, but the means by which he is achieving this goal are offensive. I really don't need Batgirl to have some of the most defined breasts I've seen in a comic all year. I really don't want to see that, especially not in a story like this.
Mann obviously isn't the only one at fault here. He just isn't given anything to work with. Superman delivers a monologue regarding Sanctuary that, frankly, is three or four issues to late. While this is happening, Mann simply peppers in completely unrelated DC characters throwing some poses. Adam Strange, Mister Terrific, the Atom, Swamp Thing, Zatanna, Starfire, and Aquaman. They're just… posing. Knowing that, based on Mann's twitter posts, he is literally drawing with his back on the floor due to his body pains just makes me feel terrible for the guy. He's definitely going to sell these pages at some convention if he draws traditionally, but the story here is suffering.
On to King's writing. A small part of me wants to go scene-by-scene and just analyse everything but this review is already long enough as it is. I'll try my best to keep it succinct. The value, the very essence, of these Sanctuary confessions have completely fizzled. Initially they juxtaposed the scenes of chaos and death at Sanctuary in the first two issues, and were somewhat effective in this manner. Here, they're randomly thrown in. I understand that these characters have trauma they're dealing with. King throws in confessions for Commander Steel and the Protector, among others. Most of the general readership won't know who these characters are, and the theme that King was going for has already been achieved. The relationship between Booster Gold and Blue Beetle is something that long-time fans of DC hold dear to their hearts, and King exploits this for an easy way to illicit an emotional reaction from anyone who cares. Any scene involving these two characters demonstrate the intrinsic problem with King's dialogue and his storytelling; he doesn't like to explain anything he feels like he doesn't need to, and he completely glosses over any reason or logic. Booster comes up with a plan that is immensely idiotic, and Blue Beetle is totally fine with it despite it being the stupidest idea ever. There's a whole subplot involving Batgirl that also has some of the most atrocious dialogue I've ever read in a comic in my life. Or some of the worst dialogue I've ever encountered generally. Batgirl is allied with Harley and I simply don't understand why. It might have something to do with Batgirl's history with the Joker and knowing what Harley went through, but this is me speculating! I just don't know.
To sum up, this isn't worth anybody's time. I can't believe Tom King sat down to write this, I can't believe Clay Mann sat down to draw this, and I definitely can't believe that DC and all of its editors and various heads of publication read this issue and okayed it for publication. Reading this, and hearing about the few layoffs that were in the news last week, make me seriously wonder about the state of DC Comics and if there is anyone truly competent running the ship.

Our Score:


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