Identity Crisis by Brad Meltzer

details
Title: Identity Crisis
Stand-Alone: Yes
Writer(s): Brad Meltzer
Illustrator(s): Rags Morales & Michael Blair
Publisher: DC Comics
Format: Hardcover – 10th Anniversary Edition
Release Date: December 23rd 2014
Pages: 288
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction, Mystery
ISBN13: 9781401252786
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

thoughts

One of the best things about superhero stories is the writers that can give these an edge so sharp that it could cut right into your emotions and make you bleed with passion. Not every story has to follow a conventional structure. When it comes to DC Comics, you can find just about all kinds of style, and this seven-part graphic novel looks to give superheroes an emotional touch that will leave you heart-broken. What the best-selling thriller novelist Brad Meltzer offers you is a look at how vulnerable these heroes who seek to protect others really are when you look at their human side. After all, most of them aren’t so different from you and I, except for their powers and duty as vigilantes that leave them with a far bigger burden than the common mortal could ever comprehend.

Identity Crisis puts Ralph Dibny, also known as Elongated Man, in the spotlight as his wife suffers an unexpected tragedy in the mist of what should have been a joyous and celebratory day. Struck with grief and derailed into confusion and incomprehension, the superhero community are utterly stunned. Gathered and connected by death, the heroes on Earth launch a mission to find a killer who has done the unspeakable. During these dark times, dark thoughts cross the minds of many as they contemplate the size of the justice they plan on delivering to the culprit. However, a long-buried secret starts to sizzle its way to the attention of certain heroes and turns this mystery into a far more complex event than one could expect.

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The story deals with a lot of fascinating and realistic issues regarding superheroes and their secret identity. Similar to the exposed and constantly harassed lifestyle of celebrities, superheroes have the immense challenge of keeping their identity hidden from those who are ill-intentioned. While the world strives on finding out the latest gossip on these public figures, heroes seek to keep their loved ones out of harm’s way. To constantly worry about their safety is after all one of their greatest weakness and something that some have had to learn the hard way. It’s even more of a concern for them when they’ve seen a lot of heroes die, and only some of them come back. This exploration of their secret identity and the lengths they go to to keep it a secret is part of the reason why this story is so eye-opening.

Unlike other stories, Identity Crisis does not shy away from sensitive and dark subjects and delivers all the dilemma’s in a poignant and powerful fashion. One of my favourite question that was tackled in this story is how humanity should deal with criminals. As many strongly believe that rehabilitation is not a viable option, while death is no way to set the example for mankind to follow, a third option that looks into severely changing a person’s personality and diminishing their mental and physical capacities is explored. As touchy as it is, Brad Meltzer deals with it beautifully in a superhero context. And with the help of artists Rags Morales and Michael Blair, a lot of moments were delivered with raw vigor and emotion.

Identity Crisis is not the most accessible story for newcomers since there are a lot of characters that are used to deliver the emotional edge of this plot. In fact, knowing their history and who they are helps substantially in understanding where they come from and why they act in certain ways. Nonetheless, there is plenty that can be appreciated, newcomer or not. From amazing artwork, insane tactical action scenes, deep discussions on ethical dilemmas to a mystery filled with red herrings, Identity Crisis is a very intimate and stunning look at the personal lives of superheroes through a gripping whodunit story.


EXHIBITA

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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!

lashaansignature

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41 comments

  • Well…you definitely sold this book with this wonderful review. I love the way this book approaches the superhero identity in what seems like a very unique way. If you really were a superhero I think keep you secret identity a secret is probably one of the hardest things to do. But more so in a way that you are able to keep your loved ones safe.
    I also love the way this books seems to ask the difficult questions about criminals. Because really: what is the best way in dealing with them? Great moral questions, and one look at the art for this one is enough to convince me this graphic novel is a winner!. Great post indeed 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes. It might seem like something we take for granted. Like.. “Oh, he has to keep his identity a secret. Duh. Whatever.” But man, it’s way more complicated than that, especially when your identity is actually already public. How do you stay out of trouble then?

      Personally, I can assure you that I won’t vouch for the death penalty in regards to dealing with criminals, even those that are convinced that they won’t ever change no matter what. Rehabilitation and isolation from society (prison) are the only viable options. We just have to make sure the system is regulated properly and not corrupted by private companies and careless people. 😀

      Thanks for reading, my friend! I appreciate the positive feedback! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree with you on the death penalty. It’s certainly not the best way in dealing with criminals if you ask me, but unfortunately not everyone thinks like that.

        Liked by 1 person

  • Kind of like a behind the scenes look into superheroes huh? Or at least that is the vibe I am picking up from your awesome review. I love any storyline that offers that rare glimpse and exposes the more human and raw side of fictional characters that feel so “untouchable” or well… “super”. This sounds like something I could enjoy, although my lack of knowledge and background in superhero storylines and comics might be a hinderance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pretty much. You’ll get some nice insights in the lives of some heroes outside of the superhero business and it really highlights the main themes in a dramatic way because of the angle. You could totally appreciate it even without a full background on what has been going on in the DC universe prior to this graphic novel’s story. Worse case scenario: you’ll discover all kinds of new heroes and will want to learn more about them. 😉

      Like

  • This sounds so good, your review totally makes me want to read it, even though I’m not a huge graphic novel reader!😁 Happy Sunday, Lashaan😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • That definitely puts a smile on my face, Tammy! Hopefully you’ll find yourself picking one up really soon and enjoying it thoroughly. Especially after your SDCC experience! 😛 Hope you got home safely!

      Like

  • Wow, this truly sounds phenomenal! All these characteristics and realistic human sides and emotions that have been conveyed so perfectly… Brilliant review, Lashaan! Truly! I wish I was familiar with the characters so I could dive into this and witness it the way you did!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is! And yes, giving these godlike heroes such a personal and intimate (and also devastating) story was brilliant. It can get quite dark in this one too (surprisingly dark!). If you do somehow run into, you should totally try it out out of curiosity. It might surprise you in great ways! 😉

      Like

  • Ah, I remember this mini series, I actually have all the individual issues back when it first came out (can’t believe it’s been more than 10 years!), because of the covers by Michael Turner. A talent lost too soon 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Swear!!!! I’m actually happily surprised!!! I’m so used to hearing people having never heard of these because they don’t read superheroes stories often! I’M SOOO HAPPY that you actually know this and have read it too! And yes.. A sad loss for the community. 😦

      Like

  • This sounds amazing!! I couldn’t even imagine what superheroes have to go through. I whine all the time to my man about having a full time job, a blog and a house to maintain… I couldn’t imagine throwing saving people and a secret identity into the mix (… Although, maybe I already HAVE and I’m just trying to keep my secret identity a secret!… You’ll never know!! MUAHAHA!!) 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed! And not to be confused with Plastic Man too. At least Elongated Man is a recurring hero in the Flash’s TV series nowadays. The most exposure the hero got in a very long time, that’s for sure.

      Like

    • Glad to hear your interest in this one, Dani. There’s a scene that could easily trigger some, but is also meant to hit readers hard and unexpectedly. The story is tragic, so be warned if you ever decide to try it out. 😉

      Like

  • These are the sorts of comics I am drawn to. The complex, emotional, deep ones which explore concepts rarely explored in novels, let alone comics. I appreciate the heads up about how challenging this might be to pick up new. Lots of characters are challenging for me to keep track of in comics for some reason. Where do you recommend I begin if I want to pick up Identity Crisis some day?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep. I do love running into these kinds of stories here and then to balance out with those that are simply fun or just beautiful to go through. Oh man, I don’t think there’s any ideal way to catch up on all the backstories in Identity Crisis. It’s sort of a culmination of a lot of heroes’ main stories. It’s either you know a lot of DC’s characters and a bit of their lore or you don’t and feel compelled to learn more about them post-reading this story. It’s meant to break the status quo in the DC universe after all. I’d recommend still giving it a shot even if you don’t know everyone in there. The story and its ideas outweigh the need to know of all the heroes and their lore. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • I figured you’d say that. I appreciate Omnibus collections which give you breadcrumbs across comics to help flesh out the full story, but I understand that’s not always a possibility. Like when people read the Infinity Gauntlet trade paperback only to discover it’s the culmination of a much larger story–the reader is so confused. I just pat them on the head and hand them the 1000+ page Infinity Gauntlet omnibus and say, “Well, this might cover a part of the whole arc.” XD

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hahahaha exactly! Some stories draw upon that “history” built up in previous story arcs in order to deliver something more connected and complete. I like to look at these stories as a hint that there are other great stories worth checking out to further understand what’s up. And then, on a re-read, you’ll appreciate it even more for all the references and subtleties. 😉 But, again, Identity Crisis can still be read and appreciated without knowing everything about DC and its heroes. 😀

          Liked by 1 person

  • Oh man dude! I really enjoyed this comic book too when I read it. I agree that it’s not easily accessible to a newcomer because certain aspects of it threw me off because I’m not familiar with the characters, but I really liked the art work and the structure of the panels. That fight scene with Deathstroke was my favorite and made me want to learn more about that character and I loved the part where Elongated Man was crying in the rain and the end where he switched off the lamp (a simple thing, but I loved it). Loved the mystery aspect of it but not who the murderer turned out to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahah I do remember your review. You picked this story up around that period where you were just getting starting with all things related to comic books. You’re probably the perfect example of why this story works even if you don’t know every character that are present in this graphic novel. There’s just so much more to it than just those heroes. Oh yes. That Deathstroke scene was phenomenal. It showed us why he was basically an evil version of Batman. All about tactics rather than brute force! And yes, those emotional scenes were crazy! Like that scene where Elongated Man’s jaw drops from all crying and he tries to hold it all together. Crazy. The reveal was indeed a bit tricky. Not everyone will appreciate it. But I did like how it adds another argument the whole “sharing your identity” theme in this story.

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      • Oh yes! That part where Elongated Man’s jaw drops was one of my favorites too. They did a really good job portraying emotions in this.

        Liked by 1 person

  • Awesome stuff as always Lashaan (I really loved your opening line, very poetic and literary – you’re writing style has a unique way of grabbing and engaging the reader). I actually have a digital copy of Identity Crisis, which, you guessed it, I haven’t read yet! I’ve heard a lot of interesting things about it over the years and your review only heightens my curiosity and enthusiasm.

    Superhero stories are great but they’re even better when they take time to delve into deeper, thought-provoking subject matters so I love it when something like this comes along. Have you heard about the forthcoming ‘Heroes in Crisis’ series that Tom (the) King is writing (with Clay Mann providing the art no less)? That sounds like it could be a similar kind of superior superhero story that’s going to deal with PTSD in the context of that universe. Given King’s background it certainly has a lot of potential.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks man. Coming from you, it’s definitely some of the highest praise I could ever get.

      Come on, Chris! You got to get around to it hahah! A nice quick thriller to kill the mundane scent of life! 😂 It does have a tricky ending, so I’d be really curious to see what you’d think of it.

      Totally agree with you there. It’s what I live for and what makes superhero comics relevant! And yes! Super excited to see where King’s story will go. I’m sure he has a nice story to tell. Based on the premise, it has all the ingredients to turn into a classic like The Sheriff of Babylon! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

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