This morning at San Diego Comic-Con, Tom King, Clay Mann, and Mitch Gerads hosted press at a special seaside event to promote DC Comics’ upcoming event comic, Heroes in Crisis. The event, hosted on a yacht dressed up to look like a spa (or the staging ground for a cult, depending on your perspective), gave critics and reporters their first opportunity to dive into the world of the story and learn more about its novel premise.
For the uninitiated, Heroes in Crisis focuses on Sanctuary, a special place of healing where DC’s heroes can come to rest and recover from the traumatic experiences they face on a regular basis. “Built by Batman with Kryptonian technology” and programmed with Wonder Woman’s compassion, Sanctuary is run by specialized AI that cater the Sanctuary experience to the hero. King explained that Sanctuary is designed to be anonymous, with each patient receiving a mask and robe that they wear for the duration of their stay. As each reporter boarded the yacht, they were given a robe and escorted upstairs, where they were treated by two patients wearing masks based on the images from the story.
Mitch Gerads incognito, credit Alex LuReporters were then led outside to a section of the yacht that had been laid out as a meditation room. They were guided through a short relaxation exercise before King and the two masked figures, revealed to be Gerads and Mann, revealed themselves to discuss Sanctuary.
King expanded on the premise of the series, which sees Booster Gold and Harley Quinn as the prime suspects of a tragedy that occurs on the premises of Sanctuary. King spoke out at the event, revealing that the impetus for the plot is a mass shooting that occurs inside the building, costing “a dozen” heroes their lives. We don’t know who the fallen will be yet, but King quoted DC co-publisher Dan DiDio, who once said “you can’t have a crisis without a dead Flash.” A number of promotional materials for the series have showcased Wally West, indicating his time in the world may be running short.
King said that the choice to focus on Booster and Harley was suggested by DiDio. The writer said that, like when he was working on Mister Miracle, King comes up with ideas of things he wants to explore and then goes to DiDio to ask for characters he can change and break down to make his ideas work. King said that as soon as DiDio suggested Harley Quinn and Booster Gold for Heroes in Crisis, King knew they were the right fit for the series because “they’re both characters who make mistakes.”
Discussing the striking iconography of the gold Sanctuary masks, Mann struck down the rumor that these were Psycho Pirate masks, explaining that in truth, he designed the Sanctuary masks to be shaped like the shield emblem Superman wore in his very first appearances. A number of other symbols in Sanctuary are based of Superman’s shield, including a pin that press members were given at the end of the event.
Expanding on the title Heroes in Crisis, King explained that he looked to Marv Wolfman, author of the progenitor DC Crisis event Crisis on Infinite Earths, for inspiration. However, King went on to say that he didn’t want to make this Crisis like the ones that came before it: “I’m a little tired of having the world end.”
Instead, King and his collaborators decided to set up a more personal and interior story. King talked about his time fighting in the war in Afghanistan. In somewhat broad terms, he discussed a moment in time where he and his team did something that saved many soldiers’ lives, landing them on the “front page of every newspaper” in the country. He felt good in the moment, but then, as days went by, he figured out a way he might have been able to save more lives. That pain and that trauma was something, King felt, superheroes in the DC Universe would experience as well, leading to the idea of Sanctuary as a place where heroes could come to deal with this pain.
During the event, King made some vaguely political statements about Heroes in Crisis‘ origins as well, saying that after 9/11, he and the rest of America felt fundamentally broken in a way. Then, over the years, King said that the nation started to feel like it was getting its bearings again. But recently, something shook things up again.
Heroes in Crisis, King said, is ultimately about building a sense of “community.” The book is not only about solving who committed this violent crime, but also about how a community of people can rebuild after such a tragic event.
During a brief question and answer session after the creative team’s introduction to the event, a reporter asked whether DC planned to address the sensitive nature of this book’s premise by promoting real life crisis centers for those in need. A representative of DC’s public relations team responded, stating that plans for such promotion in the comic were still being determined.