Title: Identity Crisis
Writer(s): Brad Meltzer
Illustrator(s): Rags Morales & Michael Blair
Publisher: DC Comics
Format: Hardcover – 10th Anniversary Edition
Release Date: December 23rd 2014
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction, Mystery
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆
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.
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.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!