The mystery surrounding the massacre at Sanctuary is sprinkled with more clues, yet comes to no conclusions in the sixth issue of Heroes in Crisis.
Heroes in Crisis No. 6
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mitch Gerads, Clay Mann
Heroes in Crisis No. 6 cover (Credit: DC Comics)
What was life like for Gnarrk before he was displaced in time and became a superhero member of Teen Titans? How was Harley Quinn spared in the massacre at Sanctuary when almost everyone else was killed? What is Wally West’s connection with the incident at the facility? All these questions are posed in Heroes in Crisis No. 6, and readers are still no closer to most of these answers.
Following the neat conclusion to the dissemination of the leaked Sanctuary tapes to the public in Heroes in Crisis No. 5, this latest installment feels more like a filler issue that pads up the series with content and adds little in way of story arc or advancement.
Do We Really Need Gnarrk’s Backstory?
When you’re a fan of a medium as sprawling as comic books, one is bound to find a handful of characters much more invigorating than the majority. Not every character design has to be out-of-this-world, nor does the characterization. But when shining a spotlight on a character in an event series like Heroes in Crisis, one could argue that it is better to pick your battles (or rather, characters, as is the case here).
Gnarrk is hardly an arresting character, despite Tom King’s valiant attempt to mold him into a woe-begotten Frankenstein’s monster-esque creature in this issue. Several pages are dedicated to his life as a Cro-Magnon, fighting to survive, to eat and to look up at the stars. His life was simpler, but it wasn’t better. Or was it? The entire point of Gnarrk narrating his life story becomes clear near the end of the installment, and as always, King ensures that it feels relevant to his story and the sentiment that he is writing, but at this juncture in the series, it feels like a frivolous waste of panel space that should be dedicated to moving the plot along.
Enough with Harley Quinn’s Eccentricities, Already!
Harley Quinn in Heroes in Crisis No. 6 (Credit: DC Comics)
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We get it, Harley Quinn is a crazy, endearing, and enduring character. She’s like your favorite pie you buy only for special occasions and celebrations. There’s a reason we don’t want that pie all the time – because it will get boring! And Harley’s damaged-but-cute act is getting tiresome after being the focus of virtually every single issue in this series.
While it is important that readers glean what occurred just prior to the massacre at Sanctuary, the slow-build with Harley isn’t advancing the story. It almost feels like her vital relationship with Poison Ivy is being retroactively added into the series, instead of it having propelled Harley’s actions from the very beginning. She has been everywhere in Heroes in Crisis, from battling Booster Gold, to seeking refuge with the Penguin, to needlessly fighting the DC Trinity, and then teaming up with Batgirl. Where is Harley’s story arc going? Is it going anywhere at all?
Wally West is Running in Place in this Series
Wally died in the first issue of Heroes in Crisis – for that to happen to a character who has been consistently suffering immeasurably since his return in DC’s Rebirth was hard enough to swallow, but ever since that bombshell was dropped on readers, very little progress has been made for his character.
Flash and Wally in Heroes in Crisis No. 6 (Credit: DC Comics)
Readers have witnessed his attempts at coming to terms with the erasure of his wife and children, and we have seen over several issues that he didn’t really deal with isolation too well. In Heroes in Crisis No. 6, we are back to him holding his dying friend confessing his sorrow, but that’s it. Reading Wally West in this installment is like déjà vu. We have been here before and read this already, let’s move on. Something happened to Wally at Sanctuary – what it was and whether it caused the massacre or specifically led to his death in the massacre is unknown, but with three issues left in the series, readers should have a clearer picture as to where Heroes in Crisis is going.
As a mystery story, we’re stuck in a sagging middle act that bombards the reader with information but doesn’t lead us anywhere. Who’s behind the massacre is the question everyone has been asking since the first issue of this series, but with little more than breadcrumbs thrown our way, people aren’t going to be asking that question for very long.