DC Comics is trying something new. In the wake of their Rebirth initiative, the publisher has rapidly expanded its content to include diverse new imprints such as Young Animal, Wildstorm, Jinxworld, Wonder Comics, Black Label, Ink, and Zoom. As their lineup expands, it can be hard to figure out what to pick up each week. That’s what our team is here to help with, every Wednesday, with the DC Round-Up!
THIS WEEK: Everything hurts and I’m sad.
Note: the reviews below contain spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdict.


Heroes in Crisis #8Heroes in Crisis #8

Writer: Tom King
Artists: Mitch Gerads and Travis Moore
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
With only an issue left, Heroes in Crisis has been an uncomfortable comic. Its central conceit, we learn in this eighth issue, is that the Wally West Flash—a character so regularly played for optimism that he headlined a 2016 company-wide relaunch centered on hope—has snapped, murdering a dozen patients at a rehabilitation facility for superheroes. Unless something changes in the finale, this book turned Wally into a mass murderer, one who blames past traumas for horrors he has committed. I don’t like any of that, and, to be fair, I’m probably not supposed to. The preview for the first issue of this series asked, “How does a superhero handle PTSD?” This week we get the answer: horrifically. This was never going to be an easy read, or, for that matter, an easy book to review. But here it goes…

This issue of Heroes in Crisis (HiC) brims with more plot than any that have come before it. It opens with Wally in Sanctuary (the aforementioned rehab center) in a confessional looking at the reader, a narrative device used throughout HiC. “My name is Wally West,” he says. “I’m the fastest man alive. This is my confession.” There is blood splattered on the wall behind him. It’s awful. Wally starts to confess, words playing over scenes of characters we saw murdered earlier in this story.
The artwork is stunning, as it has largely been throughout. Travis Moore draws the montage of murdered heroes, some of whom are depicted at Sanctuary, others before their arrivals, and still others as they bid farewell to loved ones. We get four pages from Moore. The rest of the story is drawn by Mitch Gerads, who has collaborated with HiC writer Tom King on his most critically-acclaimed stories, including Mister Miracle, which I’ll remind you now that I really liked. The art in this issue is, unsurprisingly, top tier and gorgeous, with letterer Clayton Cowles doing the wonderful unsung work of leading the eye through the revelations in the panels.Anyway, in this issue Wally describes how he snapped for one moment, his super speed giving him the time and power to kill roughly a dozen heroes. Booster Gold and Harley Quinn were in Sanctuary away from the violence, so Wally subsequently manipulated their perceptions to make each think the other did it. He also planted false leads to distract Batman and Flash, using Booster’s tech to go five days in the future, kill himself, and put the body at the crime scene. All of this gave him five more days (I think) to regroup and tape the confession we’re seeing in this issue, which he has apparently sent to Lois Lane. For all of this, he blames past traumas, specifically how multiversal shenanigans erased his family and pushed him to watch countless hours of other heroes sharing pain so he wouldn’t feel alone.
This all makes me feel awful. How awful? I am not a drinker, but this is the heaviest superhero comic I’ve ever read and holy hell I could use a whiskey, or a rainbow snow cone, or just a long afternoon in a sunny park browsing happier stories about Wally West from bygone times. There are plenty of those. Wally is, after all, one of DC’s happiest characters. He’s frequently the comic relief in the seminal animated series Justice League Unlimited. He’s a rare sidekick who first served as a cipher for readers before beating the odds and growing into an adult hero. Part of the problem here is that Wally is at the center of something so bleak. It was going to be tough to make him believable and sympathetic in this context, and I don’t think there’s any sympathy engendered by his actions in this issue. It’s just too heavy a lift.
To make sure, I went back this week and read earlier HiC issues, wondering if taking the story holistically might change my reaction. I was primarily interested in whether the disorienting use of perspective in this book—bouncing between the false memories of Booster Gold and Harley Quinn, while making stops with the Trinity, Lois Lane, obscure Teen Titan Lagoon Boy, etc.—really served the emotional arc of Wally West. 
I found right away that knowing everything from the start made for a more coherent reading. No longer was I expending the bulk of my mental energy trying to parse what had happened. I was better able to get lost in the story. As a result, I found myself moved by the relationships between Harley Quinn and Batgirl, and Blue Beetle and Booster Gold. The book certainly has something to say about just being there for injured friends. I also liked basically every scene with Superman in it, but I’m partial to Lois and Clark, so that’s unsurprising. All that aside, even on a second reading, the Wally West arc left me cold. Wally’s justification is a sad one, but it’s way too dependent upon utterly goofy and convoluted sci-fi shenanigans (themselves a result of a little loved DC reboot) for his experience to resonant in any deeply poignant way.
Instead of building a powerful emotional arc for Wally, one that culminates in him opening up about his pain, HiC has a scattered interest in different characters experiencing trauma in different ways, topped with this horrific incident of mass murder, surely meant to evoke our current national epidemic of such incidents. This is a choice, the idea presumably being to emphasize the effects of ignoring the plight of individuals within a traumatized whole. Maybe. Whatever the intent, I could only find Wally’s actions to be absolutely senseless, making this first and foremost for me a prolonged story about one of the most charismatic characters in the long history of DC being broken, tainted, evil. That’s bleak and cynical, to be sure, and perhaps a bit too far past the conflict needed to drive reader interest. There are moments of beauty and deep sensitivity in this issue, but is it possible there is also simply too much pain in these pages, too much suffering? I still don’t know, and I suppose to find out we’ll need the last issue.
In the end, my own confession is I’m still not sure how I feel about HiC, other than bad right now today. This comic is trying something, and it’s complex. I’d like to see it in full before calling it a failure. I also haven’t entirely processed why this story makes me feel so awful. It could be the wrong character or characters are involved, or the disorientation at the start muddied my emotional investment, or simply that mass murder is inherently awful, regardless of its context. Whether this book succeeds, King remains one of superhero comics’ most interesting writers. Mister Miracle and Omega Men are classics, and his Batman run continues to hit some of the wildest highs in the history of the character. So, I’m going to hedge on this week’s verdict, look forward to the final issue, and hope badly that there’s one more twist coming, one that might undo some of this awful feeling and clear a way to redemption.
Verdict: Browse


Round-Up

  • In happier Flash business…hey, how about that? The upcoming Flash Year One storyline is speeding (heh) right out of this book’s current plot. I like that. I guess I thought we’d just open on Barry getting his powers as a non-sequitur, presumably to stall until the book can use Wally and the rest of the Flash Family again (hopefully) soon.
  • In The Wild Storm #22, meanwhile, it becomes ever more apparent that this series from its start has been an elaborate new origin story for a version of The Authority. There’s nothing announced yet—and, really, few rumors to suggest a continuation—but I hope a new Authority comic launches soon after this one concludes in June. Warren Ellis, with an assist from Davis-Hunt and Buccellato, has been at the absolute top of his game. To not build on that would be a serious missed opportunity.   
  • Action Comics #1010 is also a blast. I don’t have much more to say about this series that I haven’t already said in the past, other than holy wow will I be sad to see Steve Epting go when his time is done on this title. If anyone needs me, I’ll be ogling the Alex Maleev artwork from the upcoming Event Leviathan…
  • In other good news, The Terrifics made the transition from writer Jeff Lemire to Gene Luen Yang seamlessly. It helped that Yang wrote The Terrifics Annual #1 way back whenever, which allows him here to pick up on some of the plot points. He’s also not in that obvious of a hurry to undo the developments from Lemire’s last arc. It’s all very encouraging.
  • Freedom Fighters is such an odd book, not quite serious enough to be evaluated that way but not quite campy enough to be all in good fun.
  • Finally, G. Willow Wilson’s run on Wonder Woman continues to grow on me. You can feel her getting more comfortable with her ideas as she settles into a unique voice and tone. I suspect it will keep getting better from here, which is exciting.

Miss any of our earlier reviews?  Check out our full archive!

81 COMMENTS

  1. Yeah, this issue of HiC has a heavy, HEAVY burden, to convince us that Wally killed all these heroes, and then decided to COVER IT UP by framing Harley and Booster. To King’s credit he almost pulls it off, but it all seemed…. Well, very, very implausible. Lots of pseudo science invoked and pat explanations. And, really. The bottom line is that Wally West is now a killer, and that flies in the face of what I know of the character’s past. As you say, uncomfortable from start to finish.

  2. Who wants to read this kind of thing? Who thinks this kind of thing is worth publishing? It seems like this is exactly the sort of story an editor should step in at the very beginning and say “We’re not doing this.”
    Mike

  3. Tom King needs to stop. His pseudo-psychological garbage is superficially well written. But character-wise it reads as if it should be a super pretentious Elseworlds. It’s as if he’s never read any comic starring Wally West, but was just handed some bullet points on the characters current status. His Batman isn’t much better, long drawn out psychobabble. His Mr. Miracle was over stylized, nearly incomprehensible BS. His Vision, while more comprehensible also showed a complete lack of understanding of the character.
    Wally West spent nearly his entire history as the The Flash completely overshadowing Barry Allen’s version. He was vastly more popular. His book completely outsold his predecessors book, which had been cancelled prior to Crisis due to poor sales. It’s why Barry Allen died in Crisis. Even in the comics he has long been more powerful than Barry. His treatment was the greatest fan outrage of the New 52 debacle. And while, people cheered his return, they botched it by basically treating the character like a second rate afterthought. In fact, his treatment leads me to suspect that he was brought back for this specific purpose. Which is even more creatively bankrupt. I will add to this, that King seems to completely not get Booster Gold as well. Having written him like a brain addled idiot in Batman and now here. Which completely disregarded all of Booster actually character development. Hell, they literally had him stopping Superman from making horrible time travel mistakes, only to immediately follow it up with the completely out of character King Batman storyline.
    This series is an expensive waste of paper. We don’t need story after story of horrific things happening to heroes, little less constant stories portraying them as less the actual hero they have always been. While I’m at it, I’d like to see some storytelling that doesn’t revolve around killing off long standing characters. It’s comics, so we know someone will eventually bring them back, so it deadens the affect immediately. It is also happening constantly anymore, which takes away any impact it could possibly have. t’s see these current writers flex their creative muscles by coming up with storylines not involving Fridging supporting characters. How about a no death mandate. A year of comics where storylines don’t constantly involve murdering long standing characters.

  4. On that note about the Wildstorm, I am bummed because it was initially supposed to launch at least three spin-off books, with The Authority coming at the end of the entire story (at least that was my reading of it). My suspicion is the lack of sales on Michael Cray lead to DC just quietly waiting for all of Ellis’s work to end and kill any line extension.

  5. DC just went the marvel way: turn the hero into a villain. Once it would have been shocking, now it’s pretty common. Remember Hal going nuts and becoming Parralax? Max Lord shooting Beetle in the head, Diana snapping Max’s neck… Sorry, I’ve seen this too much in comics over the past decade or so to be shocked, dismayed… or anything but indifferent. And grateful that I’m not spending money on this stuff.

  6. Except for the CW shows and the animated series, it feels like being a DC hero in the comics, video games, TV shows or movies is almost always a depressing drag. Is that what they’re going for?

  7. On the Wordballoon podcast, King has stated that Wally is his preferred Flash by a country mile. King finds Wally to be the most enjoyably Peter Parker-like character DC has, whereas Barry Allen King finds to be ‘boring’. King also said that Barry Allen was Geoff Johns’ favourite Flash because that was the Flash Johns read and grew up with. And that he and Johns argue the point in the way fans do.
    Since Rebirth, I think DC Editorial have treated the original Wally West appallingly. That DnA-written Titans reintroduction and (so-called) reestablishment was not honourific of Wally, IMO. Wally has existed as a problem since that time ( ? I haven’t been much of a Flash reader for a long time now, and I too find Barry Allen really boring). In the years of Rebirth, DC have just been trying to write Wally into the story, just to catch Wally fans, it seems to me. When realllly, Wally’s presence is problematic because he’s not the Flash (when he should be), his family and universe no longer exist, and there’s another black-kid Wally running around, etc.
    One other extra-universe survivor went mad in the DCU; Superboy Prime. It’s a thing with DC to repeat a theme/chord (think recurrence of Crisis as a word, or the recurring meta- significance everyone places on an absurdly arbitrary number like 52), as someway to honour their history. Or, a recurrence of the Jason Todd sidekick story. DC are determined to treat Wally as the sidekick, and this present story is DC dealing with the culmination of that; and consequentially the existential problem that is Wally West.
    The story makes sense in the way DC have told their stories, with multiple points of resonances (including in the title, as the Flash died in CrisisOIE, and is now in emotional Crisis here). But you don’t have to like it.
    I like King, and Wally West is King’s preferred Flash just in the same way that I prefer Wally as Flash. It’s DC that paved the way to this story, whatever you think of it. (just things to consider, and I’ve no point on whether you should like King’s current story or not

  8. I guess that’s the question then; is a good story worth trashing a character? The writers who’ve done it would probably say yes, it’s up the to individual readers to agree or disagree with them.

  9. I do like the artwork, particularly as Wally looks like a man in that costume and not a tall boy as some have depicted him.
    I myself will reserve judgment until I read it, and I know that I like King, and I will follow him on a story.

  10. I think it now can be reasonably argued that Barry Allen has replaced Wally West as the Flash (said with a straight face. and dependent on the story outcome

  11. Here’s what’ll make this series actually good when all is said & done-The last few panels reveal Wally is in a type of stasis chamber, & ‘The Batman Who Laughs’ takes off some kind of holographic device that made him look like Wally, (as well as a type of speed device that gave him artificial speed…) & he tells the reader: “FOOLED YA’!!!” It would be the biggest double twist that not only keeps Wally in character, but makes use of a new character villain, & adds reasons for new resolutions to happen in future stories.

  12. Tone deaf, insulting, self-indulgent tripe. Nothing less that complete character assassination in service of an uninsured ties too hard weak narrative with about the worst characterizations I’ve seen in a while. Dropping all DC books from my pull list again. Rebirth got me back this travesty pulled me right out. I don’t care what King thought he was doing here he failed about as hard as one can fail.

  13. If you see something, say something. Well someone really needs to give Tom King a hug. His PTSD and regrets of CIA work have made him so cynical and depressed that he writes about them in every single book of his. All I have to say is I hope all those true believers are happy to see the DC Universe trashed by suicidal/murderous beloved superheroes.

  14. I’m sick of this criticism, as I see it time again applied to Tom King. An artist and their art are not one and the same thing, or interchangeable. Art is its own work that exists for itself, that an artist has worked on to imbue the artwork that. What was Thomas Harris thinking when he wrote the Hannibal Lecter series of novels? Surely had a lot of personal demons to work through on the page and it was only that that stopped him eating his own brains!
    Try a different tact if you don’t like King’s work, because the tone/nature/insight of King’s work is not necessarily dependent on/caused by his prior occupation or his so-called ‘need for a hug’ (doubt he has one, myself). I find the nature of this criticism not so valuable. You might look up what the literary critic Roland Barthes might have been referring to when he said ‘the author is dead’ in contemplation of a writer’s work. Just, this has been covered.
    Said it before, King and Priest for me on DC, with maybe Bendis and one or two I’ll look at on the mainstream DCU. So I’m not exactly enamoured with the house style or bulk of DCU books anywzy, for what that’s worth.

  15. “You don’t have kids do you?” I’m sure your family would be so comforted to know that you think slaughtering a bunch of strangers is a valid expression of grief should anything happen to them. Whatever, you probably thought the same thing about King’s “many gruesome deaths of Lois” and his poor excuse for it, too.
    “An artist and their art are not one and the same thing, or interchangeable.” This is the same excuse people use to justify consuming work from objectively terrible people, and that definitely applies in this case. EVERY single King story returns to the same themes & beats, usually in the same lurid tone, and his faux genial interviews (which always betray a very thin skin for even the politest criticism) are enough to fool people determined to adhere to that poor excuse. The dude has severe problems, period. They seep nakedly into his work, period. And his CV is not an excuse or cause for celebration. His “insights” are limited to “gee, other people’s depression sure is entertaining.” He constantly purports to be “shining a light” on what life with mental illness is like, then immediately portraying it as dangerous to everyone around a person. That’s not helping anyone in the slightest – if anything, it’s allowing people to justify hurting them. Just like saying “separate art from the artist” lets you justify things like, say, child molestation so long as the media the perpetrator made entertains you.
    I’m glad others are finally expressing what The Beat’s staff is so afraid to express – that this man’s work has been bad from word ‘go’. This is just the nadir of it. And anyone flailing around to justify it probably would do the same for his “activities” in Afghanistan. The sooner he leaves comics to make yet another bog-standard “it’s hard being a MAN” drama for FX, the better. He doesn’t need a “hug” – he needs a wake-up slap.

  16. One last thing – “regrets of CIA work”. Yes, he sure regrets that military service he uses as a constant dodge of criticism and brags about as his sole reason to “understand” PTSD. His work suggests he understands its value for (ahem) interrogation and little else. Any regrets he has are probably that he didn’t get to do more of it. If he regretted it, he’d stop using it, along with random mentions of 9/11 in interviews, as a magical “don’t criticize me, I’m a veteran” shield.

  17. Actually I found Tom King on Wordballoon to be a very relaxed and considerate person, who is decent and, if anything, critical of his self. Healthy interests, relationships, and pretty knowledgeable about film, which he shared and exchanged with John Siuntres. I remember he really liked some romantic comedies, with Cary Grant. So, yes, I maintain there’s a difference between art crafted and the artist.
    What King does superbly to me is his Modernist technique in Batman. Narrative captions and action blend beautifully with whichever artist is on display in a way expressive of Batman’s consciousness. In an epistological way (I mean, you are throwing words like ‘objective’ around). So when I compare the shift to Kiteman’s perspective as estipemologically relevant to who Batman is, and can compare it all to a Modernist work like Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, or Nabokov’s Lolita; I’m being serious. Playing with time as expressive of consciousness over ten issues of the Knightmare Batman arc? Wonderful! I’ll give King the benefit of the doubt because he is terrific with form.
    Addressing your exception to violence; I find it OK if it has a point to it. I can’t imagine King not having one, and incorporating the form well as part of it. And I hope you’re not selective in your objective about King when many others incorporate violence.
    Notice that I haven’t referred to King’s occupation once yet? Its because I don’t see it as that important. Not every CIA veteran will or could ever hope to write like King does. Therefore: his prior occupation is not causative for King’s great capacity for form. His experience does influence his choice subject matter, but it is the form that is truly remarkable. I like King’s understanding too.
    We’re going to have to disagree. Again, I’m certainly not bothered by King’s use of violence, as I’m supremely taken King’s capacity for form, and which I find far more interesting/compelling/overshadowing/ embedding of any said violence.

  18. Once again, Tom King shows that he is probably the best writer DC employs right now, and that he doesn’t get most of their characters at all. I still cannot wrap my head around the fact how his talent, his knack for dialogue, his meticulous plotting and his ability to say a lot with very few words are so amazing, and yet his handle on the characterization of 98% of DC’s stable couldn’t be further off the mark.
    This issue would be a lot better if the killer was Gunfire, or any of the recent Firestorms, or Wildstorm’s Apollo, or any of the d-list detritus DC has accumulated over the decades. But Wally? Hell. No.

  19. Wally lost his family. And he lost them in the only-possible-in-comic-books worst way possible. His kids aren’t just dead, they never even existed. His wife is alive, but she doesn’t have any memory of being married to him, or the children they shared. His ‘friends’ are basically telling him his grief isn’t valid, as the kids never existed. They can’t empathize. His tragedy is something he has to deal with alone, as he’s the only one who remembers that version of DC reality. He’s totally alone, in pain, and surrounded by people demanding that he be the embodiment of ‘hope’ and ‘joviality’ in their circle. If anything is going to break a person, I mean, jesus – how much worse could it get?

  20. Kaleb & the dude with the dumb name: We’re gonna have to disagree for… well, a lot of things. I’m not going to support a war criminal because he gave a “relaxed & considerate” interview on a podcast entirely designed around schmoozing & promotion. He’s obviously proud of his time committing war crimes, since he uses every single print interview to bring it up as a way to deflect any & all criticism. It’s not “CIA service = writing skill” like you seem to think; it’s a moral measure, not a skill one, and King has shown repeatedly that he is lacking in both fields. And there is no way “I lost my property… uh, kids” is a valid reason for mass slaughter, fiction or otherwise. It’s bad writing, and it’s coming from a place of highly destructive bad faith towards the people he’s exploiting for publicity. And because he’s comic’s Ted Bundy when it comes to concealing his true intentions in interviews where he controls the floor (like a boat at SDCC or having Siuntres softball at him), men like you will buy it & defend every single thing he does.
    Supporting King after story after story where decades of characterization is canned to tell the same onanistic story about depression, from the POV of someone who has clearly never suffered from it & finds the suffering of others to be infinitely entertaining, is no different than supporting John K after he’s exposed & struggling to justify giving money to an immoral person. It’s telling that the people who fall over themselves to defend both sad excuses for men are always fellow men.
    I guess even when The Beat’s staff can’t cover for their favorite sadist, his cultish fans will.

  21. “I mean, jesus – how much worse could it get?”
    This is a story about a guy in a brightly-colored costume who runs around at super-speed punching bad guys in the nose.
    THIS is what bothers me about modern super-hero comics. They take juvenile adventure concepts and mash them willy-nilly together with mature or “adult” storytelling without any internal logic at all.
    Mike

  22. I left the book for a completely different reason…its unbelievable setup. In the first issue Harley Quinn takes down Booster Gold. Wait. What? In the second, she bests Wonder Woman for her lasso and uses it to incapacitate Batman. Huh? Did I miss the memo where the Jokers prison psychologist, and certified loon, is now able to threaten the Trinity? How am I to buy that line of reasoning? I know comic books are my personal unrealistic super hero soap operas, but that is ridiculous. This has been the subject of numerous discussions at my local comic shop and I would like to know if I’m missing the point. Is Harley super powered now? References would be appreciated. Titles and issues please.
    And now Wally is the killer???

  23. Tom King’s a war criminal now?! Well fuck me, someone get to the Hague, get a policeman or something and begin extradition proceedings…

  24. Now, not really here to defend the story too much – not a fan – but, my impression was that #8 pretty clearly establishes that the killings were accidental. Overwhelmed in the moment, he loses control of the Speed Force and produces a blast of energy that killed all those people rushing to him for support. And then, in a state of panic, he moved things around to make it look like the scene of a murder spree.
    Now, that still seems pretty silly to me, but it doesn’t make Wally a bloodthirsty murderer. If you were to charge him with a crime, it would be Involuntary Manslaughter (a couple dozen counts of it), and tampering with evidence.

  25. Whoa, whoa, whoa. While I have issues with Tom King on dialogue, pacing, themes and story content (as someone who has had some trauma in his life, though nothing violent, as in the case of HIC or King’s likely experience, I don’t really care to engage with those themes while reading a comic) I think it’s incredibly dangerous to throw out a claim of his being a war criminal. Being a CIA analyst doesn’t automatically make someone a terrible person, it makes them complicated.

  26. I also won’t stand for your misrepresentation of me. What I said was: Tom King’s CIA experience/prior occupation = not very important to his writing ability. Whereas you characterise me with your statement: ‘It’s not “CIA service = writing skill” like you seem to think’ [direct quote].
    Get it right, will you? CIA SERVICE DOES NOT EQUAL KING’S WRITING (can’t be clearer) (unless you need to be educated about the precise meaning of an equals sign. Just like you seem to need to be educated about what precisely a war criminal is

  27. It’s YOU who is arguing that King’s CIA experience is so essential to his writing/writing quality (which is the exact inverse of what is my position). Weasley, aincha (aside from ignorant of what precisely a war criminal is

  28. OH I get that MBunge- but let’s take the story as is. Even if we’d prefer that stories about people in colorful costumes be fun and entertaining. Let’s take the story instead as it’s presented – a story of extreme trauma, – how much worse could things get for Wally? If anything could really cause Wally to ‘abandon all hope’ it seems like it’s the situation he’s found himself in.
    Further to everyone else, I also thought it was pretty clear in the comic that all the deaths were an accident, he was so emotionally traumatized that he lost control of the speed force, and when you lose control of the speed force ‘it’ [the speed force] comes out and bad things happen. Whether this jives with his previously established powers, is another discussion.

  29. “It’s YOU who is arguing that King’s CIA experience is so essential to his writing/writing quality (which is the exact inverse of what is my position). Weasley, aincha (aside from ignorant of what precisely a war criminal is”
    A war criminal, among many other things, is a participant in an illegal war. And the invasion of Afghanistan is just that, and many of the deeds “analysts” like him have done qualify. It’s a matter of his records being unfortunately sealed and many Americans being so trained to mindlessly worship any & all military figures, so he can constantly go unquestioned. Or, in the case of you & your fellow men, defend his misdeeds.
    And if you’ve somehow missed EVERY GODDAMN INTERVIEW King has done where he goes out of his way to mention how much his “service” informs every single thing he writes, then the “weasley” one is you. He obviously makes it clear that it’s the most important thing about his writing & why he can never, ever be questioned. I guess you skipped every interview he’s given about this to CBR/Newsarama/Polygon/here. Or you totally lack reading comprehension.
    (Although a total lack of reading comprehension WOULD explain why anyone would like anything King writes…)
    Anyway, I look forward to the day King is inevitably arrested for violent domestic abuse (since his work holds women in SUCH high regard & he fits the abuser profile to a T), and men like Kaleb & Friends follow his lead of pretending he’s a real victim once again. It’s all as predictable as the tides. This work, that “writer”, and the many MRAs who stumble over themselves to defend him are proof that this industry would be better off dying once the next inevitable bubble hits.

  30. Applying your standard, the entire military, US intelligence services, Executive and Commander in Chief are ‘war criminals’. They’re all as criminally complicit, discredible and worthy of our contempt as you hold with Tom King. According to you (way to take a stand! Bravo! I’ll applaud from over here. Man, you rule!

  31. Hey, MBungey boy. You agree with that? (just curious) I’ve been laughing my arse off, as I think this guy successfully insulted more than half the population of the United States of America…
    BWAHAHa hahaa.. hee, hee..ha… hahaha heehee. ha ha. hee

  32. “but let’s take the story as is.”
    Nah, let’s not.
    There’s a story over on ICV2.com about King getting death threats over this. Now, death threats are not okay, whether over a comic book or anything else, But he’s quoted as saying “I write comic books for DC Comics. This person did not like my comic book and so they threatened to kill me. Thank you.”
    And my response to that would be, “You do realize, Mr. King, that the #1 reason people read DC Comics is because they love the characters. They do not, I hate to break it to you, read them because Tom King is a super-genius writer. In some cases, people reading today were loving and reading these characters before you were born. So…yes, when people feel like you’ve taken a HUGE STEAMING DUMP ON SOMETHING THEY LOVE, they can get a little too emotional about it.”
    And if he doesn’t take that emotional investment seriously, maybe Tom King should really be earning a paycheck doing something else.
    Mike

  33. Why can’t superheroes be fun? Isn’t that the point of them? Goofy powers and their owners trying to juggle their lives with such, and help people along the way.
    And why does DC keep visiting the well of death and killing with everything? Did Rebirth really do so bad for them they resort to this? It’s really sad.
    And I agree with Steven Bearden – Wally West is a great character. I read his Mark Waid run recently. That and Impulse. Those books, to me, are what makes superhero comics great. Shame to see Wally West presented like this here.

  34. …insulted far, far more than 50% of the US population actually, as I imagine both mainstream parties would not turn their backs on Afghanistan and Iraqi veterans. I don’t know why you think people doing their jobs are criminals, but there would have to be some serious Nuremberg-level investigations and indictments to determine… well, I’m not sure what. Abuses? Crimes? Against humanity? In an illegal war, as you say? (meaning not sanctioned by the UN, and yet composed of a coalition of half a dozen countries; they’re all complicit and indictible too). And because it is illegal, you blame ‘all participants in an illegal war’ [direct quote from you]? Barak Obama’s administration, because he continued this illegal war.
    No indictments. Who are you in your mind to determine complicity/guilt, etc when I can just as easily do so as well. Or anyone can. You’ve no comprehension of Justice or why in Modernity it is extremely hard to take responsibilty for anything, let alone blame others for it. See: Nuremberg.
    King guilty of war crimes? Wow, you must be God to know that. And him specifically, above other veterans? Guilty? Or, just as soon as everybody else who participated in said wars is indicted too could you say that. And even then, they were doing the messy job that we wouldn’t do ourselves, and so we share levels of complicity in our Modernity. And we’d be turning our backs on multitudes of people who were jyst doing their jobs – and sometimes or often with as much honour as they could muster.
    You’re a bit fucking simple for my tastes, mate. Might explain your own taste and preference in fiction (it does in my mind; which seems to be your standard and enough for you in determining someone’s a war criminal, so have at it

  35. lol Kaleb has a total hard-on for Tom King. His approval of the writer goes way beyond the writer’s work. He goes to the bat for Tom King, as a person. Not that there’s anything wrong with liking someone that way, but liking someone that much disqualifies him from making any critical analysis of Tom King’s work.
    “Except for the CW shows and the animated series, it feels like being a DC hero in the comics, video games, TV shows or movies is almost always a depressing drag. Is that what they’re going for?”
    Yes, because the gatekeepers and the people they hire are into deconstructing “tropes”. Superman, for example, is simply another compilation of “tropes” , a bundle of pathologies, prejudices and biases that needs to be taken apart and shown for what it is.
    The general public likes heroic superheroes. the neurotic creative people in the media and the cynics in executive positions are very cynical about heroism, in general outside the framework of social justice.

  36. “On that note about the Wildstorm, I am bummed because it was initially supposed to launch at least three spin-off books, with The Authority coming at the end of the entire story (at least that was my reading of it). My suspicion is the lack of sales on Michael Cray lead to DC just quietly waiting for all of Ellis’s work to end and kill any line extension.”
    re: Michael Cray
    i’m shocked that no one wants to read a story about a mild-mannered african american mercenary. It’s so close to the original concept behind Deathblow, who was more popular that the x-men in the 1990s, that I don’t know why it wasn’t a huge hit.
    Warren Ellis’ work has not sold well in a long time and probably, with a few exceptions, never sold well.
    So, it’s safe to say, when Warren Ellis is hired, he is not hired to sell comics.
    Warren is good at making glorified movie pitches for Hollywood and was brought on probably to create some interest for a Netflix show based on Wildstorm characters.

  37. Funny, I never really cared about King’s background. Still don’t really. When I read a story I read the story, no more and no less. Afterwards if I get curious I do some background digging. Still it doesn’t affect much how I read the story, though it might affect how I read future stories by the same author. But think of the great authors in history, none of them were saints.
    Why people are upset is easy to understand: a character is trashed for the sake of a story. How many times have we seen this? Scarlet Witch, Tigra, the Amazons (Amazon’s Attack), Mary Marvel accepting dark powers, Captain America becoming Captain HYDRA… At a certain point it’s hard just to take everyones advice (often shouted on the net) to simply stop buying the titles. That doesn’t do any good. I can’t think of any bad storyline that’s been stopped or modified because of low sales. The frustration builds and it has no where to go.

  38. “I can’t think of any bad storyline that’s been stopped or modified because of low sales.”
    I think I remember Peter David once explaining all the changes of direction he did on “The incredible Hulk” by saying they all followed his editor telling him sales were starting to slip. Of course, PAD was writing different stories for a different and much larger audience back then.
    Mike

  39. Also that wasn’t a special event or cross over. Sometimes an author can and will change things or try something radically knew if the sales slip and he/she feels pressure from the editor. But other than that, I can’t remember one. The closest is when Marvel had to call for everyone to be patient with the Captain HYDRA storyline, and I can’t recall hearing about them changing that storyline.

  40. “At a certain point it’s hard just to take everyone advice (often shouted on the net) to simply stop buying the titles. That doesn’t do any good. I can’t think of any bad storyline that’s been stopped or modified because of low sales. ”
    “think I remember Peter David once explaining all the changes of direction he did on “The incredible Hulk” by saying they all followed his editor telling him sales were starting to slip. Of course, PAD was writing different stories for a different and much larger audience”
    The difference between now and the 1990s is that there was still some kind of audience for comics to the point comics companies could recoup their expenses from comic sales.
    Nowadays, the real sales of most comics, even at Marvel and DC are comparable to what Fantagraphics and other indies sells…not enough to be profitable, in the Direct Market. At this point, hiring marginal creators like Ed Piskor makes sense because Marvel is not running a profitable publishing division anymore. They are connoisseurs of fine art . They don’t really care whether you buy it or not because it doesn’t matter if they sell a single copy of it.
    What matters is what people in the media and academia say about it because their opinions is what will attract the real source of revenue for comics, licensing and movies.

  41. I only mentioned King’s history because it’s part of every interview he gives. It obviously informs his worldview and his writing philosophies, because every series has had some element of heroes dealing with the cost of war. In the end though, it’s all a bunch of depressing nihilistic hog wash – trying to be a hero through the horror, giving in to the war machine/being a mindless soldier, being resigned to fate, and viewing suicide as the only means of escape.

  42. Existential angst and the Modern-state, Nick. Ennui. What you call ‘nihilism’ is replete in the great works of literature and philosophy, and it’s definitely massively contributory to their greatness. Immediately recognisable in: Jane Eyre; Crime and Punishment; Hamlet; Waiting for Godot; Lolita; the works Joyce, and Woolf… and Tom King is very good at writing this Modern-state as well, in multiple genres. And he will be fawned over for it.
    I’m gonna love reading this series now! Suffice to say, I still disagree with your restated concerns about Tom King, Nick. each to their own (and, believe me, I’d stop reading comics if all I had to read was Kelly Thompson’s dialogue, and the DCU work of Scott Snyder; but that’s just me

  43. “What you call ‘nihilism’ is replete in the great works of literature and philosophy”
    We’re talking about people in colorful costumes with code names who run around punching evil-doers in the nose.
    I think something needs to be said out loud. Most of these comic book writers like King and Bendis are not that great. They are not necessarily awful but there’s a reason they’re doing work-for-hire comics instead of working in TV, movies, or writing actual books.
    I was at a convention panel recently where an artist who worked with Bendis gushed over his dialog. I didn’t say this out loud because I didn’t want to be “that guy” at a panel but I was thinking “Of course Bendis’ dialog stands out. Nobody ever tried to write dialog like Bendis before because it’s not really appropriate to the genre or even the medium.” You can’t write dialog like Bendis if you are writing single-issue stories to appeal to 200,000 readers as opposed to six-issue arcs that are read by 50,000 people. Forget Frank Miller, more people read Ann Nocenti’s Daredevil than Bendis’ version.
    Which, again, doesn’t mean Bendis or those guys are BAD writers. But there’s a lot of guys and girls who could write “Spongebob Squarepants” episodes that would blow the minds of adult viewers…at the expense of boring or alienating the kid viewers WHO ARE THE ONES THE SHOW IS ACTUALLY MEANT FOR.
    Mike

  44. Look Mike, I’ll be the first to agree that the older styles of comics were and remain sophisticated. Forget the greatness of the early Marvel sensibilities, but I was just reading early Gruenwald Cap, and the issues with Madcap are full of broken-down in panels/explained philosophy. Nocenti’s DD is the same, and particularly with street-level issues and the sex/gender of Typhoid Mary, and Good-Evil dichotomy of Mephisto. I really like that era, and the differing tones of Web Of and Spectacular alongside Amazing Spider-man. Other great stuff
    Can that style work again though (frequently I wish for the art styles back again – that’s my big complaint with modern comics, and changesto storytelling could begin there)? An honest question
    (I thought that Revenge of the Jocks from Ahoy had good, expressive art, reminiscent of the 90s; nice to see
    And it might not mean anything to you but I do think King is distilling and utilising very strong Batman stuff from the O’Neil era across the 70s, 80s and early 90s, albeit in the modern DCU

  45. Both Marvel and DC look like plastic universes populated by cartoons and cartoony children heroes – it’s a bit different to how it was, IMO

  46. …but Steve Epting on Superman. Mitch Geradrds, here. All good, and others. So I complain much and then like when I look around. Hurrah!

  47. “Can that style work again”
    The MCU became the most successful (not adjusted for inflation or population) and one of the most culturally influential franchises in motion picture history, and did so by being a heck of a lot more like old comics than the modern stuff. Look at the super-hero cartoons made today, both Marvel and DC. They are overwhelmingly more like old comics than the modern stuff. Oh, there’s a few tweaks here and there but that style DOES work.
    The problem is that to bring that style back to comics you’d have to overcome the cultural and aesthetic fetishes of the current generation of comic creators, most of whom not only like the current style but have never known any other, and you’d probably have to trash the business model the comic industry has utilized for the last 30+ years and come up with a significantly different one.
    Mike

  48. “The MCU became the most successful (not adjusted for inflation or population) and one of the most culturally influential franchises in motion picture history, and did so by being a heck of a lot more like old comics than the modern stuff. ”
    That’s not true.
    I don’t think the MCU has influenced the culture.
    I think people who want to influence WERID (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic culture) Culture are looking to whatever is currently popular and then try to inject their political views into it.
    It began with superheroes in the 2000s, but we see it now, with horror, with Important People looking at horror movies as a way to address racial issues.
    No one quotes any superheroes. They are mindless, cgi flicks for the masses. No one seriously looks at Captain America or Spider-Man as role models in these times because they don’t represent any particular cultural values.If we can’t even agree on who the bad guys are anymore,
    https://www.theringer.com/2018/9/12/17848460/spider-man-ps4-police
    then how can you say superheroes are influential?
    I think the intersectional stuff are an attempt to make superheroes meaningful to a public that views it as mindless, disposable entertainment.

  49. “The problem is that to bring that style back to comics you’d have to overcome the cultural and aesthetic fetishes of the current generation of comic creators, ”
    The previous generation of comics creators weren’t crazy about superheroes but genuinely liked comics or at least tried to make good ones.
    The current generation of comics creators don’t like superheroes, don’t like the comics medium and don’t believe in artistic merit. They’re the people who say all art is political. They aren’t failed screenwriters or fine artists, they are failed politicians and social workers.
    “Look at the super-hero cartoons made today, both Marvel and DC. They are overwhelmingly more like old comics than the modern stuff. ”
    That’s not true.
    The current Marvel and DC cartoons are highly influenced by Teen Titans: GO!

    and the people who think anything that appeals to kids has to have kids as the main characters. They are also highly influenced by anime.
    Disney, WB, etc do not give a sh— about the old comics and they will change these characters to capitalize on a whatever is trending irl or on social media.

  50. Kaleb, certainly to each their own. My only complaint is when every Tom, Dick ,and Harry thinks they are Alan Moore and can write their “Watchmen” in the pages of Superman or Wonder Woman. The HiC miniseries is no Jane Eyre. It’s just a comic series written in such a way that a fan loved character has been turned into a murderer. If that’s not a fundamental misunderstanding of the medium, the intellectual property, and the superhero genre, then I don’t know what is.

  51. ‘a fan loved character’ who DC has treated like shit for years now. How did Wally get to the point where DC decided it was permissible/desirable to just push Wally over the edge in HiC? (give you a hint, all of that wasn’t King
    I haven’t read HiC but the aesthetics of playing with PoV, perspective and exploring experience and framing it through the experience of consciousness, etc. is comparable to that in a Modernist work, like Jane Eyre, or those other works I mentioned. I told you, I was serious.
    I just want you to stop saying that people ‘need hugs’. I find it very poor as a reading. Maybe someday all works will be to your satisfaction!! (and great works wouldn’t exist

  52. And works that try to say anything, Nick. You should try to be an editor, Nick! So conservative! And grasping of so much!! (I wouldn’t hire you – but, obviously

  53. and no-one would need hugs because we’re perfectly on the (your) straight and narrow. And a full range of art and human emotion/being is gone because…. hugs!!!

  54. ” If that’s not a fundamental misunderstanding of the medium, the intellectual property, and the superhero genre, then I don’t know what is.”
    “Which, again, doesn’t mean Bendis or those guys are BAD writers. But there’s a lot of guys and girls who could write “Spongebob Squarepants” episodes that would blow the minds of adult viewers…at the expense of boring or alienating the kid viewers WHO ARE THE ONES THE SHOW IS ACTUALLY MEANT FOR”
    That’s the whole point. The point is to replace the current readers with the authors’ and editors’ favored group. In the 1980s and 1990s, it was to replace kids and teenagers with adults with college degrees, and
    now it’s to replace straight men and white men with women and queerfolk.
    . Comics fans and creators but more so creators and admin are constantly embarrassed about who reads comics.
    My only complaint is when every Tom, Dick ,and Harry thinks they are Alan Moore and can write their “Watchmen” in the pages of Superman or Wonder Woman” This is the result of fans and creators being so ashamed to read comics that they look to legitimacy–and a swelling supply of underemployed people with academic degrees who claim they understand what it takes to get legitimacy and acceptance from society.
    I’m not sure how a bunch of people who are alienated know anything about obtaining legitimacy and respect from society.
    ” a Modernist work,”
    Modernist themes are perfect for a self-hating industry and fandom as comic books.
    Modernist art is all about social alienation and mental illness

  55. “I don’t think the MCU has influenced the culture.
    I think people who want to influence WERID (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic culture) Culture are looking to whatever is currently popular and then try to inject their political views into it.
    It began with superheroes in the 2000s, but we see it now, with horror, with Important People looking at horror movies as a way to address racial issues.
    No one quotes any superheroes. They are mindless, cgi flicks for the masses. No one seriously looks at Captain America or Spider-Man as role models in these times because they don’t represent any particular cultural values.If we can’t even agree on who the bad guys are anymore,”
    I agree that the shift from good guy to bad guy and back again has become too much a part of comics over the last two decades or so. I’ve often wondered if the writers even care about the differences between good and evil anymore. Part of that is the complete lack of consequences for anything anyone does. This years villain is next years Avenger. In the end if the character takes off then what ever they’ve done is irrelevant to the market forces that demand that character be constantly used. Harley Quinn comes to mind. She’s murdered and yet is considered one of the good guys. Poison Ivy is another with a pretty good body count. But if they sell, they sell and nothing else matters.
    I disagree that comics haven’t influenced the culture or aren’t anything more than bubblegum movies. From the Superman movie with Christopher Reeves on to today I think that the culture has been influenced by them.
    I’ve never heard the term “WERID” used before. Is that new?

  56. @Kaleb
    You’re right, late 80s early 90s comics is the era where some writers like the ones you named, Gruenwald, de Matteis etc started to get enormous heads and started to believe they were writing high level philosophy, that made their books really pretentious and boring and lots of readers like myself went away. Some readers turned to Image for a more genuine take on super-heroes, others like myself just went back to reading real books, the ones that don’t have pictures in them, done by proper writers, with actual talent.

  57. Kaleb, there’s nothing pejorative about needing a hug. King’s work is steeped in depression, suicide, hopelessness, trauma, guilt, and revenge. I mean that he needs more cheer and less depression, because nothing be writes has any hope or cheer.

  58. You euphamised mental illness and the need to seek treatment for it, based on his collectivs works. Well, that’s offensive. Screw you! and your coercive, insulting of- rhetoric in a cajolling manner, in order to seek support for a point of view; see it, call it out, dipshit.
    “Oh, Scott Snyder, his work just improve if something personally happened to him. Same with Kelly Thompson’. Insulting much!!!!
    Fuck off, dipshit

  59. …and you impugned King euphamistically as being mentally ill and needing treatment in the same manner, once before this. I gritted my teeth through that. Well, not now.
    Go on: keep on saying King is mentally ill (depressed) and needs treatment for it

  60. This isn’t a personal attack on King when King admits that his personal mental state affects the content of his work.
    You describe his work as Modernist.
    Modernism in art embraced the art of mentally ill artists. Modernists assert that the only authentic or valid art comes from people on the margins of society because they have the greatest insight.
    Modernism frowns on happiness in art.
    You can’t have it both ways, Kaleb. You can’t invite writers to make their writing very personal and then expect the writers’ personal feelings and mental situation to be shielded from criticism.
    Oh, I get it. Tom King is one of your people.
    Dave Sim made his work personal was attacked for it.
    I’m sure you’d have no problem describing Dave Sim as mentally ill, even if he never identified himself as a person with mental issues.
    Throwing temper tantrums and cussing at people like a spoiled child doesn’t hide the fact mental illness is
    IN FACT
    embraced and celebrated by contemporary critics and artists alike as a form of authenticity.
    This is a FACT.

  61. I’ll have it any which way I can. This way, that way. Any which way but loose! (chimpanzees man! they fuckin’ rule!

  62. Mental illness and struggling to make sense of life’s tragedies are not insults. Tom King has literally described in interviews his struggles with the absurdity of life in the modern world and his attempts to work out his own struggles through his comics. I respect this, but his artistic and philosophic approach to comics happen to be flavors I don’t appreciate in comics though. That’s my personal opinion of what he has stated to be the case.

  63. ebgrjhy-beebgry-jeebgrjhy. blibblib blob blobblib. factual. factless. factuation. factonomy. factification. factifical. factant. factal. factee. factwerp. blibblib blob blobblib. ebgrjhy-beebgry-jeebgrjhy.

  64. So, are you still stating that King is in a depressed state, and needs a hug, in order that his work might improve to stop being such depressive crap that you don’t like?

  65. I give up, Nick. I think you are categorically a tit. I find you to be offensive, in that you have imputed King with depression/mental illness to account for work that you don’t like. King is compus mentus; so, your concern and characterisation of him is inconsequential to me.
    Really, I just can’t be fucked dealing with you anymore. But if I were you, I’d lead every discussion of King off with your opinion that he suffers depression and that accounts for his work. (yeah, not insulting at all – just insightful)

  66. I can’t see certain characters being sidelined for anything, but…I guess that Suicide Squad rumor is a go?
    I wonder what the “do good” part is about. Also, Poison Ivy is back.

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