->''"Anyone who puts on a costume paints a bulls-eye on his family's chest."''
-->-- '''Ralph Dibny, The Elongated Man'''

''ComicBook/CrisisOnInfiniteEarths'' and ''ComicBook/ZeroHour''--these two series were massive crossovers and usually resulted in some form of RetCon for at least one character involved. ''Crisis'' was the big one, merging [[UsefulNotes/TheSilverAgeOfComicBooks Earth-2]] and [[UsefulNotes/TheBronzeAgeOfComicBooks Earth-1]] together, bringing us into the newly established ComicBook/PostCrisis era. ''Zero Hour''… made Hal Jordan, the most popular GreenLantern, [[FaceHeelTurn into a supervillain]] and [[ContinuitySnarl mucked up continuity]]. What ''Identity Crisis'' brought was similar but definitely NOT what readers were expecting.

As the story begins, Sue Dibny, the wife of the superhero the ComicBook/ElongatedMan, is mysteriously murdered while her husband is on stakeout. The [[Franchise/JusticeLeagueOfAmerica Justice League]] investigates the scene of the murder, the Dibny household, and are bewildered by the lack of evidence to be found. While sending out most of the League and the ComicBook/TeenTitans to look for fire- and/or teleport-based villains, the core members of the League (minus Franchise/{{Superman}} and Franchise/{{Batman}}) secretly turn their attention to small-time villain Dr. Light (the male one, not to be confused with the woman superhero who debuted in [[ComicBook/CrisisOnInfiniteEarths the Crisis]]). But before they can confront them, [[Franchise/TheFlash Wally West]] and [[Franchise/GreenLantern Kyle Rayner]] overhear the League's plans and demand to know why they are confronting Light.

They reveal that years ago, Dr. Light managed to teleport to the League's satellite, discovered Sue alone, and [[RapeAsBackstory proceeded]] [[RapeAsDrama to rape her]]. Light is stopped quickly, but he lustfully swears he will do it again [[CardboardPrison as soon as he's released]] and in the meantime [[EvilGloating will tell all the other supervillains how he raped Elongated Man's wife]]. The League then decides to wipe his memory and change his personality so the threat is defused. In the present, Dr. Light discovers he's the League's target and hires ComicBook/{{Deathstroke}}, but in the tail end of the fight, Light regains his memories and escapes, revealing the truth in an optic construct only the Flash is fast enough to see. The Flash sees that Batman was there the night Sue was raped, but ComicBook/{{Zatanna}} mindwiped him as well when he tried to stop Dr. Light's mindwipe.

Sue's autopsied, and it is revealed [[spoiler:she didn't actually burn to death. Meanwhile, Jean Loring (ex-wife of Ray Palmer, aka ComicBook/TheAtom) is nearly lynched by an unknown assailant, and [[Franchise/{{Superman}} Lois Lane]] is threatened by someone who knows she married Franchise/{{Superman}}. Tim Drake goes through a parental struggle with his father, who knows Tim is Robin and wishes for his safety. [[Franchise/TheFlash Captain Boomerang]] reconnects with his bastard son and discovers he is a speedster. While the divorced Atom and Jean reconnect, Jack Drake, Tim's father, is sent a gun with a warning and attacked. Jack uses the gun to kill his attacker, Captain Boomerang, but is killed by one of Boomerang's weapons. Robin and Boomerang Jr. both lose their fathers, and the mystery is apparently solved… until the autopsy of Sue reveals tiny footprints in her brain, which really killed her. Batman learns of this and deduces also that the Atom didn't kill Sue, and we learn that Jean discovered one of Atom's spare suits. In an attempt to reconnect with Ray (her ex-husband), Jean tried to organize an illusion of a threat to superhero families, but accidentally killed Sue and hired the wrong assassin for Jack Drake. Ray commits Jean to Arkham Asylum, shrinks to a microscopic size, and disappears completely. In the end, the League is shaken up, it is implied by Green Arrow that Batman might know he was mind-wiped; Dr. Light regains his old personality, Boomerang's son becomes the new Captain Boomerang, and Ralph Dibny is now a widower.]]

So in the end, where [[ComicBook/CrisisOnInfiniteEarths the Crisis]] and Zero Hour were large crossovers that involved retconning and large gigantic battles, ''Identity Crisis'' was much more low-key, being a quieter crossover that was instead a murder mystery. However, that is why fans would point to this book if a new reader ever asked for a good starting point to get into Franchise/TheDCU. The retcons were smaller, but a little obvious. Especially with the ''[[Franchise/JusticeLeagueOfAmerica Justice League]]''.

''Identity Crisis'' was directly followed by ''ComicBook/InfiniteCrisis'', which followed the typical format much more closely.

Written by Brad Meltzer with art by Rags Morales.

!! Tropes used in or associated with ''Identity Crisis'':
* AdultFear: The superhero equivalent to a government witness' alias being blown, and your enemies knowing ''who'' you are and how to hurt you at your most vulnerable: your loved ones.
%%* AnyoneCanDie
* ArtisticLicenseNuclearPhysics: A nuclear-powered character ([[spoiler:Firestorm]]) is skewered by a sword. He has to fly off to prevent himself from killing his allies, as "They all know what happens when you puncture a nuclear reactor", and he is shown exploding. Except, as [[http://www.whiterose.org/howlingcurmudgeons/archives/006974.html Greg Morrow notes]], not much actually happens if you puncture a nuclear reactor. (Further flavoring the inaccuracy stew is that the character's powers were never shown to work that way previously; he had nuclear abilities, but was not a "nuclear reactor".)
* [[VillainsOutShopping Assassins Playing Risk]]
-->'''Chronos''': He rolls double sixes. Mirror Master captures France.
* BadGuyBar: The villains have a satelite where they hang out for meetings and such.
* BaitAndSwitch: [[spoiler:The penultimate issue had Dr. Mid-Nite discovering a pair of tiny footprints in Sue's brain, suggesting it was the Atom who killed Sue. The issue closes with Ray Palmer and Jean Loring together, Ray wearing a [[SlasherSmile very sinister-looking smile]] on his face. The next issue reveals that it was Jean, not Ray, who was the culprit.]]
* BerserkButton: Deathstroke goes totally nonlinear when Ollie sticks an arrow in his (blind) eye. Calm and collected the first moment, completely insane the next.
* {{Bookends}}: The story begins with Elongated Man talking about how much he loves his wife. It ends with Ralph [[TearJerker talking to Sue's invisible ghost as he goes to bed]].
* CentralTheme: Violation, be it sexual assault or mind rape. [[spoiler:Or trust.]]
* CluelessMystery: [[WebVideo/AtopTheFourthWall Linkara]] once explained that one of his biggest problems with ''Identity Crisis'' was that the story followed this trope but had to contrive very bizarre reasons to do it.
* ComicBookFantasyCasting: According to the collected edition, Rags Morales did this with a number of characters, basing them on actors, singers, models, and other famous people, including...
** Elongated Man on Creator/DannyKaye and Creator/DickVanDyke.
** Sue Dibny on [[Series/GilligansIsland Dawn Wells]].
** Batman and Wizard on Creator/TomSelleck, the former being ironic, considering Selleck is an avid gun collector and Batman [[DoesntLikeGuns infamously hates guns]].
** Wonder Woman on B-film star Julie Strain.
** Barry Allen on Creator/JohnHurt and Wally West on Creator/BradPitt.
** Hal Jordan on Creator/PierceBrosnan.
** Green Arrow on [[Music/AliceInChains Layne Staley]].
** Black Canary on [[Film/XMenFilmSeries Rebecca Romjin]] and [[Film/BatmanReturns former Catwoman]] Creator/MichellePfeiffer.
** Ray Palmer on a young Creator/PaulNewman.
** Jean Loring on [[Film/{{Clue}} Lesley Ann Warren]].
** Zatanna on [[Film/FastTimesAtRidgemontHigh Phoebe Cates]].
** Vixen was originally supposed to be based on actress and singer Grace Jones, but ended up being based on [[Series/CommanderInChief Geena Davis]]--despite Davis not being black.
** Nightwing on Creator/JohnnyDepp.
** Starfire on model Naomi Campbell.
** Felix Faust on Creator/LeonardNimoy.
** Merlyn on [[Series/FantasyIsland Ricardo]] [[Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan Montalbán]].
** Captain Boomerang on porn star Ron Jeremy and [[Radio/TheHowardSternShow Jackie Martling]]. Owen was based on Music/JustinTimberlake and Creator/JamesDean.
** Firehawk on Patty Hearst.
** Mirror Master on Creator/EricRoberts, who does have DC experience, playing Sal Maroni in ''Film/TheDarkKnight'' and voicing Mongul on ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague''.
** Calculator on [[Disney/{{Hercules}} James Woods]], who'd since voiced Batman's MirrorUniverse counterpart Owlman in ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeagueCrisisOnTwoEarths''.
** Shining Knight on Creator/JohnCleese.
** Phobia and Dr. Moon on, respectively, [[Series/TheAddamsFamily Carolyn Jones]] and Creator/JerryLewis.
** Chronos was based on NY Yankees manager Joe Torre.
* ConflictingLoyalties: The Flash must grudgingly keep a secret from Superman and Batman in order to protect Zatanna and her accomplices in the mind rapes.
* CoversAlwaysLie: The JLA "Big Three"--Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman--are center stage of the cover for the first issue, but these heroes (with the partial exception of Batman) are very peripheral to the story.
** The cover for issue number 4 shows Wonder Woman alone and front and center, but she only appears for two pages, and even then we only get to see part of her hip, a hand, and her lasso.
* CoyGirlishFlirtPose: During a flashback of Ralph Dibny meeting his future wife Sue for the first time, Sue does this pose while talking to him for the first time.
* DarkerAndEdgier: With the DCU already being darker and edgier in most places, one might say that Identity Crisis is far more realistic. The heroes and villains are weaker than usual and the fight scenes don't last for too long.
* DeathBySecretIdentity: We learn that during UsefulNotes/TheSilverAgeOfComicBooks and UsefulNotes/TheGoldenAgeOfComicBooks, villains learned superheroes' secret identities all the time. Heroes toed the line of the MoralEventHorizon by using Zatanna to make them forget, and neglecting to tell the more principled heroes; such as Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman; who are also implied to have an inkling that something fishy is going on, but refuse to investigate why villains mysteriously keep forgetting their identities.
* {{Deconstruction}}: of [[UsefulNotes/TheSilverAgeOfComicBooks the Silver Age]] [[JusticeLeagueOfAmerica JLA]]. It fills in the blanks between adventures to explain the measures necessary to clean up after defeating supervillain schemes and [[StatusQuoIsGod restoring the status quo]]. They specifically reference an occasion when the [[LegionOfDoom Secret Society of Supervillains]] took control of the JLA's bodies and (likely) learned their secret identities. How do you think the heroes averted DeathBySecretIdentity for the villains? Green Arrow further suggests that Superman and Batman knowingly look the other way and don't ask questions about how the League's B-Squad does its clean-up.
** More broadly, this deconstructs the hierarchy within the JLA, the role played by the "lower-ranked" heroes, and their feelings about that. It also discusses Elongated Man's feelings about [[StuckInTheirShadow being in the Flash's shadow]], and how his love for Sue is in great part due to the fact that she looked passed Barry and preferred him instead.
* DeconstructiveParody: Tim O'Neill's remix of the third issue. "I make stabby."
* DownerEnding: Even catching the villain doesn't make the ending any brighter.
* DroppedABridgeOnHim: [[spoiler:Firestorm]]'s death really comes out of nowhere, has no bearing on the plot, and seems only to exist so that a superhero dies in the book to give it more dramatic weight. Then it never gets mentioned again in the book after the one page scene. The event was later followed up on in ''{{ComicBook/Manhunter}}'', where the League tracks down his killer, but most people didn't know about that tie-in.
** [[http://firestormfan.com/2011/04/25/how-ronnie-raymond-died/ According]] to Firestorm Fan:
--->It wasn’t a glorious or heroic death. Ronnie was killed by the Shadow Thief using The Shining Knight’s sword. It was a minor scuffle, the kind superheroes partake in all the time. Brad Meltzer’s intention with this scene was to show that sometimes heroes die a quiet, accidental death on the job.
* ExternalRetcon: Retcons much of the goofiness of UsefulNotes/TheSilverAgeOfComicBooks, particularly in the form of Doctor Light.
* EyeTake: An absolutely haunting one, when Tim discovers his father's body; Bruce, still dressed as Batman, hugs Tim tightly, and all we see of Tim's face is one eye, wide and wild with grief, flooded with tears, staring back at the reader.
* FallenOnHardTimesJob: Captain Boomerang's last gig. By then, he's accepting any bottom of the barrel murder job.
* FamilyValuesVillain: Captain Boomerang is trying to get in touch with his estranged son.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: In issue 4, Green Arrow has a conversation with The Spectre/Hal Jordan on when is he coming back; Hal replies, "I'm working on it". This foreshadows Hal's return as Green Lantern in ''Green Lantern: Rebirth'', which was published next month.
* {{Flashback}}: A good deal of the story is told via flashbacks by Green Arrow to Wally West.
* FreakOut: [[spoiler:You can pinpoint the moment when Jean snaps completely in the flashback after she accidentally kills Sue (originally wanting only to attack but not seriously injure her), in a single facial expression hyperventilating and sobbing while [[LaughingMad grinning maniacally]], preparing to burn Sue in order to cover it up. Her resulting complete insanity results in two more deaths.]]
* GenreSavvy: While some villains are happy to the news of Sue's murder, other villains are smart enough to realize that this would only led to a witch hunt from the superhero community against the supervillains. Captain Cold even makes a point to have him and The Rogues [[EvenEvilHasStandards send their condolences to try to set themselves apart from the crime]].
* GloryDays: Are way behind for Captain Boomerang, who veers quite close to AlasPoorVillain territory.
* IdiotBall: A superhuman search for evidence lead by "[[Franchise/{{Batman}} The World's Greatest Detective]]" [[spoiler:doesn't check the phone records. Of course, no one would have seriously suspected Jean at the time, and she could easily have explained it, considering they knew each other, but no mention of her call is made]].
* ImprovisedWeapon: Deathstroke takes out the Atom with a laser pointer.
* INeverSaidItWasPoison: In the last issue, Ray Palmer relaxes with Jean Loring. Jean offhandedly asks about where a certain note (which warned of Captain Boomerang's impending attempt on Jack Drake's life) came from. Ray, horrified, knows Batman had confiscated the note before it could get in the news. When he grills Jean about this, she confesses to killing Sue and hiring Boomerang and Calculator.
* ItGetsEasier: [[spoiler:Jean clearly has a FreakOut after she accidentally kills Sue Dibny, but after that, she has little problem setting up Jack Drake to kill Captain Boomerang, and when that results in Drake's death as well, she doesn't seem all too bothered in TheReveal.]]
* KeepingSecretsSucks: Wally West finds this out in the end when he keeps quiet about the Justice League's [[MindRape mind rapes]] on villains and especially the one on Batman. Wally considers the mind rapes immoral and that they ought to be disclosed, but he's also very aware that if Batman ever finds out for sure what really happened, it would probably bring about the JLA's breakup as well as possible trouble for half its well-intentioned members. You can see in Waaly's final panel in the story that the dilemma is eating him inside.
* LightIsNotGood: To the point of ''rape''--And like with [[Manga/DeathNote Light Yagami]], this is literally (given Dr. Light's powers and that [[StevenUlyssesPerhero his real name is Arthur Light]]) as well as figuratively.
* LoveMakesYouCrazy[=/=]LoveMakesYouEvil: [[spoiler:Jean]], though it's implied it was the result of a nervous breakdown that [[FreakOut got a]] [[FromBadToWorse lot worse]].
* LowerDeckEpisode: The important role played by the League’s B-squad members is front and center, particularly regarding post-conflict clean-up operations. It also shows some of the dynamics within the group and the true origins of the animosity between Green Arrow and Hawkman. In addition, besides Wonder Woman’s eulogy of Sue and Batman’s lead role in investigating Sue’s death [[spoiler:and the revelation that he too was mind-wiped]], the JLA “Big Three” barely appear in any of the issues.
* MacGuffin: The [[LexLuthor Lexcorp battle suit]] during the Elongated Man vs. Bolt stakeout at the beginning of the story.
* MindRape: The League pull this on Dr. Light and [[spoiler:Batman]].
* MutualKill: Jack Drake and Captain Boomerang.
* MyEyesAreUpHere: Subverted and {{Lampshaded}} with Slipknot. Green Arrow notes he's smart enough that his eyes are not on Wonder Woman's "famous rack", but on her hip--where her Magic Lasso is.
* MythologyGag: If you look closely at Sue's funeral, you can see [[ComicBook/{{Starman}} Jack Knight]] standing next to Stargirl. This is actually Jack's last known appearance after retiring at the end of his series; as the Dibnys were key characters in ''Starman'', it's fitting to have him here. He's pointedly not in his old uniform.
* OpenSecret: Green Arrow implies that Superman may or may not be aware of the [[MindRape lobotomies]] that the Justice League has performed (see WeirdnessCensor).
** As Owen Mercer questions why he sees Batman at the Drake household, the policeman accompanying Batman denies that he's there, even when Bats is right there in the middle of everyone in plain sight.
* PaintingTheFourthWall: Dr. Light staring at the viewer as if to say, "I'm back."
* PietaPlagiarism: Ralph Dibny holding Sue's body in the comic's opening scene.
* RapeIsASpecialKindOfEvil: Dr. Light's rape of Sue is enough for a circle of JLA members to lobotomize him, something they never did to any villain beforehand.
* RealityEnsues: Perhaps as a {{Deconstruction}} [[spoiler:"Batman vs. The Justice League" [[CurbStompBattle is no contest]]. Bruce is soundly beaten even without the heavy hitters like Superman or Wonder Woman taking part.]]
* RedHerring: This turns out to have been what the entire rape subplot was, [[spoiler:since it had nothing to do with who murdered Sue]].
* {{Retcon}}:
** The reason behind the years of infighting between Green Arrow and Hawkman, thought to be because of their political views, is revealed to actually be over [[spoiler:the decision to mind-wipe Dr. Light and Batman]].
** Later, it was retconned that [[spoiler:Jean Loring was possessed by Eclipso the whole time]].
%%* TheReveal
* SlasherSmile: [[spoiler:...it was just like the old days, [[http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/original/12/125570/3187834-6178351198-Ident.jpg wasn't it?]]]]
* StartOfDarkness: Arguably for the entire present-day DCU.
** [[spoiler:And this was the last straw for Alex Luthor, Superboy-Prime, and Kal-L.]]
* TheStoolPigeon: Wally West averts the Whistleblower Wilson (heroic) option.
* StuffedInTheFridge:
** Mind you, it is a ''murder mystery'', presumably someone had to get killed off to motivate the story, someone close to a superhero. ''However'', that someone just ''had'' to be a superhero's wife, Sue Dibney. However, the trope is averted in that rather than focusing on the effect on Ralph, Sue's character is explored further, so she isn't just a prop for the male character's character development.
** Jack Drake, however, is a straight example, with no other purpose than to turn Tim into an orphan like Bruce.
** Also, the effects of this trope can be seen in the voting over whether to "alter" Dr. Light. Those who lost loved ones voted in favor and carried the day.
* SuddenSequelHeelSyndrome: [[spoiler:Jean Loring goes completely off her rocker to try and win back the affection of her ex-husband, Ray Palmer.]]
* TomatoSurprise: [[spoiler:Batman's role in the Dr. Light incident and the subsequent mind-wipe when he objected.]]
* TookALevelInBadass:
** Deathstroke the Terminator goes from a CrazyPrepared, highly trained and ''slightly'' augmented badass to a superhuman with reflexes that can allow him to "surprise" ComicBook/TheFlash with a sword thrust behind Slade's back. That would be the Wally West Flash who once had time slow to a standstill when a sniper's bullet touched his neck.
** This series revamped the Calculator into Oracle's EvilCounterpart.
** The series also returned Dr. Light to a credible threat.
* TragicVillain: Sort of. The story doesn't make clear whether Captain Boomerang's son will turn into a villain. But it shows how he loses his father shortly after reconnecting with him and the indignity of watching the police deny Batman's presence in front of his very eyes.
* TurnOutLikeHisFather: Captain Boomerang's son is good at throwing boomerangs as well.
%%* TwistEnding
* UnreliableNarrator: [[spoiler: Jean Loring]]'s telling of Sue Dibny's death. We can't tell if it really an accident since she's appears to be mentally deranged.
* VillainDecay: League members {{lampshade|Hanging}} and [[ReconstructedTrope reconstruct]] this trope in explaining how they caused Dr. Light to go from being a threatening villain to a total joke [[spoiler:and, by the end, back again]].
** Bolt decays to the point of being shot and severely injured by two petty under-aged street thugs.
* VillainsOutShopping: Merlyn is shown painting his scale model figures of period soldiers during his leisure time.
* WeirdnessCensor: When Wally West and Kyle Rayner ask how the inner circle managed to keep their memory-wiping exploits a secret from everyone else (especially Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne, who would probably kick them out of the league if they knew) Green Arrow says that the others "only hear what they want to hear." The conversation takes place not ten feet away from Superman - one panel is on his ''ear'', but he's obviously not paying attention.
* WhamLine:
-->'''Ray Palmer''': How'd you know there was a note?
* WhatTheHellHero: A few, but the biggest being ComicBook/TheFlash when he learns [[spoiler:they wiped ''Batman's'' memory]]. And then the Flash lied to Superman about why the group was chasing Dr. Light. And then after finding out the whole story, he ''still'' doesn't tell anyone, out of respect for Barry (who was implied to have been motivated by Iris' death) and Hal.
* {{Yandere}}: [[spoiler:Jean Loring, for Ray Palmer.]]