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A Comic Book Mini-Series published by DC Comics

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They will never be the same (analysis)

  • Jul 6, 2010
Spoiler Alert - I am planning to talk about this comic pretty in depth. There. You are warned.

Alan Moore's Watchmen. Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns. These were comics that made an impact on the genre so big we still feel the aftershocks. Now Brad Meltzer had done it. DC will never be the same after what Meltzer did in Identity Crisis. 

Most comics look at superheroes with a telescope. The big three (Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman) are such strong characters that showing the icon is perhaps stronger than the person themselves. (this is a technique Meltzer uses, for example focusing the lasso of Wonder Woman- its impact is huge) And these characters are so big, so powerful that we are mere humans when compared to them (one of my favorite lines from the comic is "and although he doesn't want to believe it, some things are bigger than Batman.") How dare they?:P But back to topic: superheroes fight. They fight aliens, villains, flying saucers, anything. But what about the ordinary life of a hero? What about their families? What about their wives, children, parents? 

What about them, I can hear you say? Well, it all started with Moore. When in "Killing Joke" Joker walked into the Gordon residence and shot Barbara Gordon (former Batgirl, now Oracle) in the spine, rendering her paralyzed for the rest of her life, thus ending her active superhero days, something in the DC universe changed forever and Identity Crisis harvests that. In identity Crisis, instead of a telescope, we use a microscope to focus on the lives of superheroes. Their everyday lives, their worries about families (Sue Dinby's house is protected by "Tahanagarian, Martian, and Kryptonian technology. Not to mention all the extra upgrades steel stole from a mother box."), and their conflicts between themselves- the league within the league as Green Arrow puts it. They may all be heroes, but they have different views on how to do things.  

Back to topic, the story is about the worries. After Barbara was shot, heroes decided to take this seriously because there are guys there "who would slit your mothers throat and go out for a drink." 
"anyone who puts on the costume paints a bull's eye on his family's chest" says Ralph Dibny, and he did. The story opens up with his wife, Sue Dibny getting murdered and the entire comic is a mystery story- Meltzer was a mystery novelist to begin with- and revolves around the question "Who did it?"

In the end of first chapter, Sue Dibny is dead, the League is investigating and Ralph is already suspecting Doctor Light. One notable thing from this chapter is Superman eating breakfast with his mom and dad like a normal guy. Another is the fact that the chapter titles are given at the the last page of the chapter, and this means that mystery is held up till the very end. I really liked that technique. 

But the twist and the core comes in chapter two. We learn that Light had raped Sue earlier, and after the heroes intervened, they did not only make him forget it, but they also took a secret vote to change Light's personality- from psychopath villain to schoolboy- and that is their secret-  to keep their friends, families safe, to keep their loved ones safe, the league has made villains forget things, and in the case of Light, altered his personality. What needs to be realized here is the significance of this decision. The league was built with a dream. To be moral, to always do the right, to be an example- and now this. It's their secret, and their fear. And that's what Identity Crisis is about. 

Chapter three stages an epic fight with Slade, and it is really epic. But then more comes: does anyone remember when villains switched minds with JLA? That issue? Yes, it comes back here. Of course the villains learned the identities of the heroes. So they were mind wiped to forget too.To protect their identities. As Green Lantern says The mask will protect you and the ones you love from harm. that's why you wear it. For your sake. For others sake. But thats a lot of arguments within the league and differences arises, and then its only a matter of time when someone throws the first punch..Its the unity of league thats at stake during Identity Crisis.   

Atom's ex-wife, Jean Loring is attacked and saved by Atom in the last second. Now people are panicked. At the same time, Tim Drake, the newest Robin (how many are there, exactly?:P) bonds with his father, Jack Drake, and Captain Boomerang connects with his lost son. The villains learn about Light being mind-wiped and now the secret is out there. And its at this chapter the drive to why people become superheroes- (we don't do it because we have to, we do it because we are compelled-Rorschach, Watchmen) is brought into question, this time by one of the most strict, dark and twisted heroes- Batman. "I chose this life. I know what I'm doing. And on any given day, I could stop doing it. Today, however, isn't that day. And tomorrow won't be either"  (in Dark Knight Bruce's lover Rachel touched this subject very well- "I don't think there will not be a day where you won't need Batman") And as Lois lane, Superman's wife-girlfriend/lover is threatened, heroes have had it. They go around everywhere and ask villains what do they know? And the villains know nothing.

Atom and his wife get back together, Captain Boomerang and his son further bond, so does Tim and Jack Drake. But when Robin leaves for patrol, Captain Boomerang is hired to kill Jack Drake and Batman and Robin arrive too late because both fathers die. I am attaching that page because it is a great one. Robin, now an orphan like Batman, in terror. Batman, his cape surrounding them while he has no colored outline- its a black deep void. His shadow is over them, and the fathers are on the ground-dead. Also note the caption (yellow text): this type of descriptive, giving two names and explaining the relationship, sometime adding time to it, is a technique Meltzer uses it all during Identity Crisis and its a great one.  

Its not over yet. remember the time when they shifted Light's personality? Turns out Batman saw them, and knowing their secret would never be safe- that he would never agree to this scheme- they took his memories relating that incident too. And thats one step too far. Its to protect the league, and somethings are more important than Batman, true, but to interfere with the memories of your own friend (or comrade, Batman doesn't have much friends) Thats a little against the idea. 

And now, for chapter 7, the secret is revealed when they find tiny footprints in Sue's brain. It was someone who had access to Atom's shrinking technology, and turns out it was his wife. They were divorced, and she wanted him back, so she thought when she scares everyone, all lovers will come running to each other, and they did. Her plan worked and resulted in the death of Sue Debny and Jack Drake. So Atom sends his wife to Arkham- the greatest place to stay ever- and disappears. 

The story ends with league going back to normal, Ralph acting like Sue is still alive and talking to her. But things are not resolved. Things have changed. Flash still is uncomfortable with all the mind wiping. The innocence and the trust of the league is lost. Its the identity of a superhero at stake. Inside the book, in the last pages is an Arthur Miller quote: An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted" Thats what happens in Identity Crisis. The dream of morality, of beauty, of innocence is gone. Still Meltzer leaves us guessing: its left ambiguous if Batman remembers the incident or not. if he has found evidence using his detective skills. How he will respond. But those questions are for forums, this is where Identity Crisis ends. 

So here is an explanation of photos attached: 
1- Sue's funeral, chapter 1: the way the heroes are aligned, the way everything is colored. This is just a marvelous scene.
2- Superman eating breakfast with his parents. Chapter 1
3- Batman and Robin. Orphans. Chapter 6. 
4- Batman, in front of his parents grave. Chapter 7. 

.So yes. This is one of the books which changed the universe. It's definitely worth a read, even if you are not as crazy as I am and know the DC continuity like I do. It's an interesting mystery novel, but just like Watchmen, its about the characters and their deep, moral dilemmas we focus on,. And Meltzer is worthy of the fame he achieved with Identity Crisis. 

Hope you all enjoy it too,


-Also, I wanted to share with everyone a related link, and it seems like this is the best place for it.

I first discovered Identity Crisis in a Portland comic shop, looking through their dollar bin (we all love those). I picked the first issue of Identity Crisis that day, and the reason? Because on its cover was in large, yellow/black text wrote: after Watchmen, what comes next?

As an avid fan of Watchmen, I decided to purchase it and as you can see from the review, read to it. But that's not the point. Afterwatchmen.com is a site where it suggests you more mature graphic novels that are similar to Watchmen, the idea is if you liked Watchmen, you'll probably like these.

So if you liked Watchmen, if you liked Identity Crisis, check out this site. There are many more comics that you may like in there.

They will never be the same (analysis) They will never be the same (analysis) They will never be the same (analysis) They will never be the same (analysis)

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July 07, 2010
Crikey! Now, that is a review. You just earned yourself a featured spot on the community's home page. : )
July 07, 2010
Thanks. I just really like this one.
July 07, 2010
Told yah.
July 07, 2010
LOL! Good to see things aren't going to your head, my friend. ; )
July 06, 2010
Very nice review. I loved this series since it was just refreshing to see these characters deal with a crisis like this; that hits so close to home. Welcome to the community and we look forward to reading more of your reviews! Thank you!
review by . May 25, 2010
Deadly Secrets and Private HELLS Can Destroy The Justice League!
   Back in 2004, DC Comics came out with a 7-issue mini-series that they promoted as the “comic event of the year”. I know from experience that claims of this kind often lead to disappointments but I have to admit writer Brad Meltzer and the art team of Rags Morales and Michael Bair’s “IDENTITY CRISIS” did make its mark and may indeed have been the comic event of the DC Universe during that year. (Please note that I said “DC Universe” …
Quick Tip by . July 02, 2010
All comics books look superheroes with a telescope. Meltzer tried to look heroes with a microscope in Identity Crisis and succeeded. This is another book which shows you how 'real' superheroes are. They eat, breathe, love, and lose as we do. The plot revolves around the murder of the wife of a superhero (Elongated Man) and the search to find the killer.
About the reviewer

Ranked #457
I have recently graduated from college with a Creative Writing degree and I miss the conversation about literature, so here I am.
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About this book


According to Publisher's Weekly, "This seven-issue miniseries by bestselling author Meltzer (The Zero Game) was both wildly popular and reviled."
The miniseries was selected by The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)'s 2007 recommended list of Great Graphic Novels For Teens.
One of DC's top-selling series, the first issue was released in June 2004 and was ranked first in comic book sales for that period with pre-order sales of 163,111. The second issue saw a decline in sales and ranked third in comic book sales in July 2004 period with pre-order sales of 129,852.  The story also adheres to the continuity changes introduced by Crisis on Infinite Earths, as heroine Wonder Woman was retconned out of the pre-Crisis JLA. In all further references to the JLA's pre-Crisis adventures, including its origin story and the Secret Society incident, Wonder Woman is replaced by Black Canary. Following Infinite Crisis, however, Wonder Woman is restored as a founding member.

Identity crisis 1.jpg
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Genre: Comics & Graphic Novels
Publisher: DC Comics
Format: Graphic Novel

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