Comic books get a lot of flack, and are often labeled “kids stuff”, what with the flashy, eye-grabbing outfits, superpowers, and catchphrases (“Up and Atom!”). But every once and a while, a story comes out that reminds you that these stories can have as much artistic merit as any novel or movie. I’ve talked on and on about The Long Halloween and Kingdom Come, as being some of the finest stories written. Now I have one more to add to the list, DC‘s Identity Crisis! Written by New York Time’s best seller Brad Meltzer, with artwork by the talented Rags Morales, this story rips at the heart of humanity, and shows that it doesn’t matter how powerful you are, anyone can succumb to fear and heartbreak.
The story starts out with Elongated Man on patrol with Firebird. They talk about life and love. Elongated Man tells her of the first time he met Sue, his wife, and how he know it was true love. They crack wise about various heroes, as they watch a black market sale take place. While the sale turns bad for the villainous Bolt, Ralph can’t focus because he gets a distressing call from his wife. Someone has broken in and attacked her. They rush to his house, but he is too late. Sue Dibny has been murdered! The Justice League is devastated. Batman checks the house front and back, leaving no proverbial stone unturned. Green Arrow thinks he can best the bat and brings in a crackpot of heroes and ex-villains to search the house as well. Including The Atom, who scours every fiber of the house.
At the funeral, every hero still alive and walking attends the solemn event. As the eulogies are read and tears shed, the action heats up in the back as they form a plan of attack. Teams are formed and villains are dispatched to be retrieved. Everyone is assigned a villain, everyone that is except for a select few. The Atom, Green Arrow, Black Cannary, Zatanna, Elongated Man, and Hawkman are left without a mission. A fact that doesn’t escape The Flash(Wally West) or the Green Lantern(Kyle Rayner). Confronted about this event, Ollie finally breaks down and the group informs the two of what happened almost 20 years ago. They speak of a horrible night when Sue was alone in the Watchtower, alone that is until the villain, Dr. Light, manages to break in and assault her. Wally is struck by this, because he has fought Light numerous times and he has always proved to be a push over. That’s when Ollie reveals the secret and why they suspect Light as the murderer of Sue.
In a secret base that is being watched by the Oracle, Merlyn and a slew of sophisticated villains trade tales and look for odd jobs to perform. One however is looking for protection. They talk of course about what happened to Sue, and how they need to lay low because the heroes are now out for blood. The 7 heroes find Dr. Light, but he isn’t alone. He has hired one of the deadliest assassins known, Deathstroke. A fierce and bloody battle explodes as Deathstroke manages to take down each member, proving why he is the best. His only mistake is not keeping his eye on all the dangers around. Why they struggle, Dr. Light has a brief flashback of what happened which all the heroes experience. Light escapes and the heroes regroup. They learn that Light couldn’t have been the killer but now they have more problems, as The Atom’s ex-wife is nearly murdered in her home. Ray rushes and barely saves her. As they try to find clues to the crime, another of the hero’s loved one is targeted.
While the heroes are struggling to find this mysterious killer, another mission is under way by a desperate father. Captain Boomerang, long has he been a thorn in the Flash’s side, is now trying to turn a new leaf as a devoted father. He learns he has a son and struggles to meet him. Finally the two have some bonding time and Boomerang decides to make headlines for his son. He pushes the Calculator to get him a job, something big. He gets a hit, literally, as he is sent to kill another loved one of the heroes, but this ends horribly. More secrets come to life as the body count continues to rise. No hero is safe and now neither is their loved ones. How can they track this killer who has eluded them every step of the way, when now they find it hard to trust one another?