This week saw the launch of Heroes In Crisis, a new DC Comics miniseries from writer Tom King (Batman, Mister Miracle) and artist Clay Mann (Batman, DC Nation) that promises to present DC's Trinity (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman) with a personal crisis unlike any they've faced before. The first issue definitely delivered on that front, but even as we were promised tragedy, readers perhaps did not expect it on this scale this soon.
**Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers for Heroes In Crisis #1 below**
We've known for two months now what the "crisis" that launches the new miniseries actually is: A mass shooting at Sanctuary, a facility designed by the Trinity to help various superheroes deal with the trauma in their lives brought on by the endless violence, compromise, and stress of being a costumed hero in the strange world of DC Comics. So, we as readers aren't necessarily blindsided by the scene set as the book begins, when Superman flies to the farmhouse headquarters of Sanctuary to examine the carnage with Batman and Wonder Woman close behind. What we're not prepared for is how bad things get.
Because the Big Blue Boy Scout gets there first, we see the damage through Superman's eyes before Batman's cold, angry detective glare settles over everything as the three heroes try to figure out who did this. Superman has seen a lot of death in his life, a lot of loss, and a lot of pain, but he can't hide how shaken he is by what he sees out on Sanctuary's lawn: The dead heroes Lagoon Boy, Blue Jay, Hot Spot, and apparently Citizen Steel. These deaths are further underlined by showing us the testimonials of both Blue Jay and Hot Spot, revealing why they came to Sanctuary for help and what they hoped to get out of the facility. But the worst is yet to come.
As Superman moves inside the farmhouse, he immediately finds two bodies, and they're the hardest deaths to stomach: Wally West, aka The Flash, and Roy Harper, aka Arsenal. Wally was there to deal with the psychological damage brought by trying to save a past he could never quite reclaim, while Roy was seeking treatment for his ongoing addiction issues. They're both gone now, and given The Flash's power set, it seems likely that they were among the first to go, because Wally couldn't react fast enough to escape his own death. The scene hits Superman so hard that, while he gets Roy's name out, he can't bring himself to say anything but Wally's codename.
The androids running Sanctuary are also, Superman confirms, wiped out by the shooter, leaving no witnesses to what actually happened...or at least, no witnesses in the farmhouse. As the issue goes on, it's revealed that Booster Gold and Harley Quinn were also seeking help at Sanctuary, and according to Harley, Booster Gold is the one who snapped and killed everyone, but he's so far gone mentally that he doesn't seem to remember. This, of course, feels like too simple of an answer for the miniseries to lead off with, but it does provide an intriguing hook at the end of the issue that's sure to get us coming back.
So, where does this leave the Trinity? With a lot of evidence to go over. The issue doesn't spotlight all of the bodies at Sanctuary, which means we may still learn of more beloved heroes who are lost, and there are quite possibly even more witnesses who fled the scene and haven't been tracked down yet. For now, though, we simply have to sit with the loss of, most stunningly, Wally West. Wally's had a hard few years anyway. He was one of the heroes who didn't immediately re-emerge in The New 52 in 2011, and had to wait instead for a return in Rebirth (this version of him, anyway), and even then no one seemed to remember who he was or what he'd done at first. He had to fight to become The Flash again, despite being a fan-favorite for decades following Barry Allen's death in Crisis on Infinite Earths. Then he was back, he was getting help, and now...he's gone again. It's a gut punch for readers and Wally's fellow heroes alike.
Heroes In Crisis continues with issue #2 on October 24.