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Monday, August 5, 2013

Identity Crisis-What Happened to DC Comics Superheroes?

Before the story Identity Crisis, DC Comics had a clear sense of its mission. DC Comics published  stories featuring Black and White Characters and a good moral message After this story went to print,  it seems like DC Comics fell into a gray area and lost its sense of direction. Some think Identity Crisis was a great story, but  I believe Identity Crisis was the story that created a Crisis of Identity at DC Comics.


Identity Crisis was the first event under the editorial leadership of current DC editor-in chief and co-publisher Dan Didio. Written by New York Times best-selling author Brad Meltzer, It was supposed to be a big event that “shook up” the DC Universe. It shook up the DC Universe alright. Unfortunately, it did so much  irreparable structural damage to the DC Universe that it took four reboots (Infinite Crisis, Final Crisis, Flashpoint and the New 52) along with the epic storyline Blackest Night to try to fix it.


Unfortunately in the aftermath of all these attempted patches, the DC Universe is STILL broken.


If Shawn ran DC Comics in 2004 Identity Crisis would have never seen print. I believe it’d be better to pay best-selling author Brad Meltzer a kill fee than to publish a story that compromises the characters of the DC Universe and damages the DC Comics brand the way Identity Crisis did.


Before Identity Crisis, DC Comics superheroes were clearly the good guys. They stood for what was right, and always tied to do the right thing. They were decent people who came from good families who dedicated themselves to serving and protecting the public. Friends who stood for truth, justice and the American way.


There was always a line in the sand with a DC Comics Superhero. Sure some characters like Batman bent rules, but they never broke them. And when characters like Adrian Chase (Vigilante) did break those rules it was clearly shown that there was a penalty for such actions (After killing a police officer, it’s Chases’ own conscience is what led to him committing suicide.) Again, there was always a line in the sand in the DC Universe with the good guys. Heroes made it an effort not to kill. They always found another way to overcome the challenges presented to them.


On the other side of the coin, DC Villains were clearly the bad guys. And while they wore the Black hats they too had a line in the sand that they didn’t cross. Sure, guys like Lex Luthor and Bane committed crimes and had plans to take over the world. But there were some crimes they’d never commit like rape.


Until Identity Crisis.


In a flashback set during the 1970’s of Identity Crisis, super villain Dr. Light rapes the wife of Elongated man Sue Dibney on the Justice League satellite. And instead of consoling the wife of a fellow team mate and a close friend, the Justice League vote to wipe everyone’s mind and act as if nothing happened. Then Batman finds out and they decide to wipe his mind.


Having read comics from the Satellite era of Justice League I know, Identity Crisis has DC’s heroes acting out of character. I don’t believe that guys who worked in Law enforcement like The Flash and Hawkman would even consider proposing wiping Dr. Light’s mind. Both of these MARRIED men would sympathize with Ralph and Sue. Seeing Sue in pain would remind them of their own wives Iris and Shayera.


And The Flash was one of Ralph Dibney’s closest FRIENDS, he’d NEVER want to keep such a thing like the rape of his wife from him. If anything, both The Flash and Hawkman would want to HELP their friend the Elongated man and his wife get through this crisis.


Nor would I believe Zatanna a woman, would want to erase another woman's mind after experiencing such trauma, especially one she considered a friend. That's not something any woman of character would do. She'd be dishonoring her father Zatara by using her magic in such an unethcal way. If anything she'd be one of the first to console Sue.


And a guy like Hal Jordan who was an intergalactic cop would definitely protest. That kind of action is what separates Hal from Sinestro. Besides, Isn’t one of the standards to get a Green Lantern ring being completely honest? This would be one of the things that could get him kicked out of the corps.


And a liberal like Green Arrow would definitely not be for wiping any minds. He’s the kind of guy who believes in keeping things fair and that people have to be brought to justice. Moreover, he’s the kind of guy who would want the TRUTH to come out to show that the Justice League is all about getting JUSTICE, even for the bad guys like Dr. Light.

The secret gets revealed years later when Sue Dibney is murdered and her body is burned. That sends the DC Universe into a tailspin of paranoia where everyone heroes and villains are running around scared. Heroes are killed, villains are killed and even civilians like Jack Drake, the third Robin’s father.


The end result of Identity Crisis turned the black and white world of DC Comics into a muddled gray area. With DC’s heroes and villains stepping over the line in the sand established for close to 70 years, characters have no idea who they are and what they stand for. No one knows what good or evil is anymore. It became okay for the good guys to do things like lie, cheat steal, and even Kill.


That’s not the way of the Justice League or DC’s Superheroes. It’s the way of the Crime Syndicate or the Justice Lords. That’s why I believe this story should have never become canon in the DC Universe. It compromises the mission of DC Comics and what it means to be a DC Superhero.


In the attempt to return back to the line in the sand DC’s characters got more lost under Dan Didio’s management over the next five years. Good men like the Blue Beetle were murdered standing for what was right. Wonder Woman killed a man. Batman became paranoid and started spying on people. Liberal Heroes like Green Arrow who used to believe in the rights of others killed a villain without giving them due process. The recently resurrected Jason Todd an apprentice of batman (a man who hates guns) felt it was okay to carry guns and kill criminals. Wonder Woman went from an ambassador of goodwill from Paradise Island to a street vigilante dressed in a jacket and…pants. Straight laced good guy Barry Allen came back from the dead after 25 years and became just as amoral as the rest of DC’s current heroes. Superman went to Iran to fight for Iran’s freedom instead of Truth, Justice and the American way. DC Comics superheroes became so directionless, Superman took a trip to find himself.


And two years later the DC Universe was rebooted into the New 52 Universe. A place where there is no good, and no evil. Just a bunch of people dressed up in spandex and armor doing whatever the hell they want and calling it justice. In the new DC Universe we can’t tell who’s a super-hero or a super-villain. DC Superheroes spend more time fighting each other than the bad guys. Some of them think it’s actually okay to do the things that the bad guys do. DC’s characters went from wandering in the wilderness to sinking into a moral quicksand.


All while Dan Didio, Jim Lee , Bob Harras and Goeff Johns sit smugly thinking they've done such a great job. The new CEO of Warner Brothers needs to fire the entire lot of them. Over a decade with Didio in Charge and DC Comics is a pale shadow of its former self. The Hostess Foods of comic books.


It’s clear to me where DC Comics Lost its way When Dan Didio stated that he needed a “rape” for Identity Crisis. His pitiful attempt to shock readers by using Sue Dibney’s rape as a “gimmick” for a story changed the fun and entertaining world of DC Comics into a dystopian place filled with darkness and misery. Heroes who generations looked up to became as depraved as the villains they fought against. Readers no longer got quality stories that taught a good moral message about good triumphing over evil. Instead of DC Comics standing for Truth, justice and the American way, it became a place about people who get ahead by any means necessary. Instead of DC comics being an escape from problems and an inspiration for people to find a solution for them, they just became a reflection of real life.


And that’s sad. The DC Universe no longer has real heroes. In their place are people with the codenames of our DC’s heroes, but not the heart, soul, personality or spirit of them. They’re now just properties, not the people readers grew up to know and love in fantastic adventures. A way for corporate parent Warner Brothers to get rich from merchandising.



The heart and soul of DC Comics was lost when Identity Crisis was allowed to go to print. This story sent DC Comics into a tailspin in which the brand never recovered. In Dan Didio’s quest for success by any means necessary he compromised the content of the character of DC’s iconic heroes. Instead of being symbols of who we could be Now they’re soulless symbols of what we’ve become.

3 comments:

  1. Brilliant write up. I've been reading DC comics since the 70's and really miss the tone and spirit they had. I wonder if they realize that the reason they can't get a Legion of Super Heroes comic to work anymore is because they cannot exist in their new climate. There is no longer room for lightness and fun in the New 52. Of course Marvel is no better.

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  2. I miss the halcyon days of one comic/one story, not these never ending story arcs that seem to go no where or lead to either an epic battle or a complete make-over of the character or story. When I enjoyed the "giant 80 page comic" of the 70s, I got a feel of the characters thru the ages. Idealists, optimists, and seekers of justice.Now, they try for so much grit, that shoes fill with sand just standing next to the displays in the local comic shop. So many more things are wrong and the path may have led to Identity Crisis, but IC was definitely the enabler that pushed it off the cliff.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I miss the halcyon days of one comic/one story, not these never ending story arcs that seem to go no where or lead to either an epic battle or a complete make-over of the character or story. When I enjoyed the "giant 80 page comic" of the 70s, I got a feel of the characters thru the ages. Idealists, optimists, and seekers of justice.Now, they try for so much grit, that shoes fill with sand just standing next to the displays in the local comic shop. So many more things are wrong and the path may have led to Identity Crisis, but IC was definitely the enabler that pushed it off the cliff.

    ReplyDelete