I wasn’t planning to do this one. I figured if you wanted to watch Linkara go after this garbage you could go to his site and do so. Then I watched the review and then Tom King did something horrible on Twitter that caused me to lose any respect I might have had for the man and I decided maybe should. Because nothing explains what’s wrong with King’s writing or DiDio’s Darker DC than Heroes In Crisis. This is a story that takes a look at mental health and the stresses of being a solider, officer, first responder, and of course superheroes through a thin veil of mud and thinks it’s a clear picture. It’s a story that slaughters beloved heroes. It’s a story that ruins a fan-favorite character. It’s a story that makes me wonder why this guy gets any praise. And it’s not even a good story to boot.
Like with Secret Empire last week this is a multi-part video but worth spending time on as a good example of a bad example.
I get the feeling that King took the worst parts of the darker events and made a story around it. But it gets worse. In part 2 we see him ruin an underrated character because broken people are funny.
If you’ve been here long enough you know that I’m a fan of The Protector, created for the first of three New Teen Titan anti-drug PSA comics. He replaced Robin at the last minute because one of the sponsors of the book was the rival of a company putting out cookies based on the Super Friends and Robin was one of those cookies. I even picked up an issue of Tiny Titans just because he was in it. Seeing King turn the anti-drug hero into a drug user and then kill him off is one of the two reasons I hate this story. The other is coming up.
Someone in the video’s comments came up with a far better confessional for Protector. Have him worn down by the war on drugs and questioning if he can actually win, if he’s doing any good between promoting drug awareness and going after the pushers and dealers. Instead King wanted to make him an actual drug user in violation of why Jason Hart became the Protector, the origin of which was revealed in the third issue as him trying to get his cousin or nephew (I don’t have the issue) off of drugs through his love of superheroes by pretending to be one, only to actually become one to stop some pushers and being convinced by Robin (there wasn’t an issue that time) to continue as the Protector. So King can just kiss off on this one. Then…there’s Wally West.
So why do I put any blame on Dan DiDio? This story has his fingerprints all over it and he has a habit of going after writers who believe in his grimdark remake of the DC Universe. Classic heroes that for whatever reason nobody uses or uses rarely being slaughtered, including former members of the Teen Titans, didn’t start here but it plays into DiDio’s hatred for the sidekicks and anyone who could replace the regular hero. Wally did replace Barry Allen as the Flash and developed a huge fan following but DiDio did everything he could to bring Barry back and make him the sole Flash (while rewriting Barry’s backstory because he and Geoff Johns don’t believe tales of the previous Flash could inspire Barry to be a hero…which considering the profession they’re in is disappointing and surprisingly unrealistic). He even did a Q&A where he pushed aside any calls for Wally’s return in any capacity, saying “Barry is your Flash now” (pretty sure that’s an accurate quote), and tried to keep him out of the New 52. Rebirth was catering to the fans and brought Wally back, so as soon as DiDio’s back in control he does his best to ruin that, and him using King to do so fits in with his style.
As for Tom King, one of the commentators I follow has theorized based on his similar breaking of Mister Miracle and Batman that King may be using his work to go through some mental issues he has. I don’t know if that’s true (and it is only a theory, not something he can confirm) but depending on what he did in the CIA (he apparently brags about that on Twitter) it’s not unlikely. I don’t like his writing but I could simply ignore him outside of what he’s done to beloved characters. Then this very week, the week this review came out, King learns that artist Jae Lee was doing a variant cover for Rorschach, a story that will be following the replacement character from Doomsday Clock and probably the only character King’s obsession with broken people actually favors. Well, Lee did a cover for Ethan Van Sciver’s Cyberfrog relaunch series and King was not happy. He went to Twitter to declare only the main cover was the “actual cover” because Lee was allegedly a member of ComicsGate, a movement we discussed earlier this week just for working on the cover. (Sciver is such a huge supporter of the movement he’s often falsely accused of being its leader. For the record he is also very much in favor of DiDio’s Darker DC and is the one who altered Firestorm for the early days of the New 52 into something cool but not Firestorm.) He basically called for Jae Lee to be canceled and to blow up his Twitter.
Except Lee doesn’t have a Twitter account, just an Instagram. So imagine having no idea what’s going on since he avoids Twitter like Covid-19 only to have people reach out to him or rage against him for being part of a so-called hate group. On the day he and his wife were planning to go mourn the recent loss of their beloved dog. King got some backlash for this (basically accused of trying to cancel an Asian creator) and went back to Twitter to say “I didn’t know he wasn’t on Twitter, but I talked to him and we’re good”. This led Lee to go on his Instagram to recount how a planned trip to mourn was canceled so he could deal with this strike against him, declare “no, we are NOT good”, and demand to be kept out of the entire discussion so he can go back to making comics. In a response to this that is not just a failure to read the room but downright illiterate King responded by posting pictures of his own dog, I guess to show he doesn’t hate dogs and sympathizes with Lee’s loss but given this whole tirade was his doing it came off more as him rubbing it into Lee’s face.
The correct response should be take these tweets down, apologize, and not attempt to get Lee fired from DC. Only just before post time has King even done any of this. I still lost respect for him as a person, not just as a writer, but at least he’s finally owning up to his screw-up. By then this post was already put together and it doesn’t change how terrible Heroes In Crisis is. Conceptually it had potential but the execution…pun intended…was awful.
It might be my own rage that caused me to post this but it also showcases everything wrong with King’s approach to the DC Universe and Dan DiDio clearly bringing him in to push his darker DC Universe and why DiDio’s leaving DC Comics is not enough. There has to be a serious housecleaning at DC Comics, a new direction closer to Rebirth, and people brought in who know what it means to write hopeful, aspirational heroes whose adventures are readable by all audiences, young and old alike. Otherwise DC Comics is going to fail and cutting ties with Diamond isn’t going to stop that.