Heroes in Crisis No. 4 review: Bros before heroes


The massacre at Sanctuary wasn’t the only blow the superheroes of DC have had to face. In Heroes in Crisis No. 4 something wicked this way comes.

Heroes in Crisis No. 4

Writer: Tom King

Artist: Clay Mann

Covers by: Trevor Hairsine, Rain Beredo, Ryan Sook

Heroes in Crisis No. 4 full cover by Trevor Hairsine (Credit: DC Comics)

In Heroes in Crisis No. 4, writer Tom King expands the cast to include several other DC Comics characters who have been affected by the events in the first issue of the series. We briefly meet Garth, who is obviously struggling with the loss of two of his friends, as well as Donna Troy, who continues to be stoic in the face of adversity.

Readers are still no closer to establishing the truth behind the massacre at Sanctuary, as Booster Gold’s version of events remains under a cloud of doubt. But, he has allies and, for better or worse, Booster appears intent on getting to the bottom of what happened.

Meanwhile, we get an unusual team-up in this comic between two popular female characters. Will Tom King follow through with the promise of this duo in subsequent issues? One can only hope.

The Art is Beautiful, But Also Problematic

There is no doubting Clay Mann’s outstanding artistic talent. The entire Heroes in Crisis series has been a masterclass in comic book art. While the same quality permeates through this latest installment, what has also seeped in are problematic elements that have long plagued the comic book industry.

At the outset, let me make it clear that the offending panels in Heroes in Crisis No. 4 are far tamer than many that have come before, but they are still deserving of critique. It’s especially exasperating that the art in this issue felt very male-gazey given the recent controversy surrounding the cancelled Poison Ivy cover for an upcoming installment in the series.

Female heroes outfitted in costumes that look like they’ve been painted on have no place in modern comics. Batman, The Flash and even Booster Gold are very obviously dressed in armor, but Batgirl and Harley Quinn do not have the same protection. It doesn’t matter what other artists are doing with these characters; this series is trying to do something different with its central premise, the art should elevate itself to the same standard.

Batgirl and Harley Quinn in Heroes in Crisis No. 4 (Credit: DC Comics)

What was really irksome was the full-page pin-up shot of a half-naked Lois Lane getting ready for bed. It felt disingenuous to the characters, who have been summarily dismissed in this series. Admittedly, it is stunningly rendered, but was it necessary? Would we get a similar gratuitous full-page spread of a male character? We wouldn’t. To start off 2019 with a page-long panel like that is preposterous.

What is Wrong with Lois Lane and Superman?

For many people, criticizing Superman is sacrilege – he is the embodiment of all that human beings should aspire to be. But, Superman’s actions in Heroes in Crisis No. 4 may give some pause. His decision to stick by Lois Lane is a testament to their relationship, but neither character comes across as heroic in this issue.

More from Comics

There’s a brief scene between Lois and Clark which was troubling to behold – they seem so disconnected from the traumatic events that have taken place at Sanctuary. Neither Lois nor Clark are directly affected by the massacre, but Superman is involved in the investigation, surely that means he feels something for the unnecessary loss of life?

Lois comes across as completely heartless, as does Superman for going along with her plan and hiding it from the rest of the Trinity. When one ends up siding with Batman over Superman, you know there is something wrong with the characterization in the book. No matter how career-oriented both of these characters are, Lois and Clark are also kind and sympathetic to others; would they really use the deaths of fellow heroes as a stepping stone in their careers? It feels so out of character for them to do this. Is Tom King implying something deeper behind their good intentions?

Fan Service Makes it a Fun Read

The Batcave in Heroes in Crisis No. 4 (Credit: DC Comics)

What makes Heroes in Crisis such an enthralling series to read are the details that King and Mann include in the panels. While not always integral to the story, there some obvious homages that are more fan service than plot points in Heroes in Crisis No. 4, which make this installment a fun read.

When Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman meet in the Batcave there is a surprisingly amusing interaction between the three of them involving Batman’s giant penny and his stuffed dinosaur.

A few pages later, Mann illustrates a feature article perfectly capturing the look of a webpage and the kind of illustration that a story like that would carry. Don’t miss the image credit on the page.

The most outstanding spread in this issue is the title page. It encapsulates all the feels readers will be suffering with this series while also painting a vibrant picture of good times gone by, the page is a fitting tribute to fallen heroes. Are we likely to see more such murals in subsequent issues? One can hope.

Young Justice: Outsiders - How are the new heroes different?. dark. Next

Heroes in Crisis No. 4 felt very much like a bridge between the prologue of what happened and the actual aftermath that will play out in upcoming issues of this series. As a filler, there is plenty of action and the introduction of several favorite characters makes this crossover event finally feel like it belongs in the wider DC universe. With five issues to go, it’s time for the series creators to begin stitching all the threads together and allowing the characters to actually grieve for the lives that have been lost.