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Headscratchers: Identity Crisis
  • Many held that voting for the mindwipe was massive Character Derailment for everyone involved. Especially for Green Arrow, given that one of his defining character traits was his hardcore libertarian/liberal ideals as regards the rights of the individual. For that matter, it would have been more in-character for Hawkman to solve the 'What if Dr. Light comes back after our families?' problem by simply smashing his head in than it was for him to vote for double mindwipe. Not to mention that many fans were confused about Batman's attempted intervention of the mindwipe, with people thinking he was objecting to the actual mindwipe as opposed to him trying to stop the personality change (which would be more in character, but it isn't really clear, dammit Meltzer...).
    • Hawkman going with the vote for the double mindwipes is actually easy to explain: Since Batman was there and fought Light, if Light was just straight out killed on the satellite, then Batman would still know that Light was there earlier. And even if they got the Atom to help with a cover up, there's still the fact that Batman was still there. "What happened to Light?" "Oh, he's in jail and incidentally went straight and we'll never see him again." And of course, killing Batman was straight out never going to happen; killing a hero for trying to stop a Mind Rape, a prominent hero at that? The cabal didn't even decide to mindwipe Batman until after Zatanna prevented Light's mindwipe from being stopped and Hawkman pointed out that mindwiping Batman was the only realistic alternative possible.
      • As for Green Arrow's support for the plan, if you remember, he was against the initial brain butchering. Flash had to be the tie-breaker. As for when they voted to make Batman forget, well, as Ollie said, "Some things are bigger than Batman".
  • There was also a lot of objection to the scene where Deathstroke supposedly defeated an entire Justice League lineup singlehanded, in a fight sequence that could have been designed to showcase the common pitfalls of Popularity Power. Superpowers suddenly failing to work consistently for no reason? (The Atom can and often does retain full mass when he shrinks, especially when he's going for a charging attack). Sudden outbreaks of Faux Action Girl? (Black Canary having a bag stuffed over her head after having stood still, doing absolutely nothing, for a span of time sufficient for Deathstroke beating up half the team before even getting around to her. Let us recall that Dinah has the reaction time of one of the top six martial artists in the world, and can at least temporarily incapacitate Deathstroke simply by opening her mouth and screaming.) Inexplicable outbreaks of Plot Induced Stupidity? Green Lantern, wearing one of the most powerful ranged weapons in the universe, instead chose to go hand-to-hand against one of the DCU's finest melee combatants.
    • People seem to forget that Deathstroke was actually losing near the end of the fight. While he was "prepared" for the heroes' powers and weapons, he wasn't prepared for Green Arrow stabbing an arrow into his eye socket and all of them dogpiling him at once.
      • Although there is no reason whatsoever that he wouldn't be able to handle a dogpile of non-superstrength enemies.
      • In the narration Green Arrow says that the arrow in the eye socket made Deathstroke lose his cool. He went from being a calm and badass strategist to a slightly stronger than Badass Normal and outnumbered psycho.
      • This really bugged me. Especially Dinah not being able to use her scream because of a bag on her head (I've seen her plow through steel with that birdcall, but burlap is too much), and Kyle being taken down because Slade grabbed his arm and put it in a kind of lock. (Note that it takes truly epic overuse of the Idiot Ball for Kyle to go within reach of Deathstroke at all, seeing as how Deathstroke is one of the DCU's melee combatants, and Green Lantern is a flying energy blaster!) Get the sense reading it that the former comes from all the women in this book being useless or crazy (see below) and Kyle not having been from the Silver Age and thus not allowed to be awesome.
      • Kyle was taken down because Slade broke his fingers, and presumably the pain kept him from concentrating enough to use the ring (maybe coupled with Slade's mega-brain trying to jack the ring at the same time). It's been seen before at least twice in the Justice League cartoon, though it still does not justify Kyle getting within arms reach of Deathsroke in the first place...
      • And let's not forget what happened to the Flash. One of two things happened in that fight: either Deathstroke was able to swing a sword around faster than the Flash could react (which would require his hands to be moving at FTL velocities), or else Wally ran his chest directly onto the point of what to him would be a stationary object. Neither of these possibilities makes the remotest bit of sense. And before someone reminds us that Deathstroke tripped Wally while he was running during the Teen Titans era, two points: one, Wally was notably slower then, and two, it didn't make any damn sense back then either.
      • I thought Dinah went to help Ralph who got blown up.
  • Jean's somehow knowing Tim Drake's secret identity, when that was information more closely held than Batman's own secret ID. Tim didn't even tell Oracle who he was until several years after his career started. Tim has chosen to let romantic relationships and even his Young Justice membership entirely collapse rather than violate secret ID security — Steph had to find out who Robin was from Batman, not him, and Tim was so incensed over that breach of security that he temporarily quit working for Batman! The point is, Tim Drake is the only person in the DCU whose own secret identity paranoia makes Bruce Wayne look open and trusting, so how in the name of Rao did Jean Loring ever find out?
    • To be perfectly fair, both Tim Drake and his ID paranoia are products of a bygone age that unofficially ended with Identity Crisis. In the Silver Age, it seemed like just about every good guy in a costume seemed to know that Bruce Wayne is Batman and Clark Kent is Superman, but after Crisis On Infinite Earths, DC made Ret Cons that drastically scaled back the number of heroes who knew their IDs. Now, just like most people in the DC Universe, most superheroes didn't know who they really were. When a superhero did learn either of their IDs (whether because like Tim Drake, they figured it out, or because either Bats or Supes told them) it was always a semi-major event during that period. Identity Crisis was the first story since COIE to restore the Silver Age status quo of most superheroes knowing Bats & Supes' IDs. This was more or less revealed in the first issue of IdC when Olliver Queen, who had never been part of the "entrusted few" after COIE, kept casually referring to Superman and Batman as Clark and Bruce. Of course, since Tim Drake came on the scene long after Ray and Jean divorced, and since until IdC, he was not an orphan living with Bruce, this revision still doesn't explain how Jean knew Tim Drake was Robin. Even knowing Bruce is Batman wouldn't make it a foregone conclusion that Tim is the current Robin. To say nothing of the fact that IdC, the first story since COIE to do away with the notion that most superheroes don't know Bats & Supes' IDs, illustrated all too painfully well just why that post-Crisis revision was such a bloody good idea!
    • Oliver did know the identity of the JLA, as of his resurrection in Quiver, he referred to them all by first name and went to the Batcave.
    • The fact that this story made that revision seem like a good idea is in itself horrible in that, Pre Crisis, the League was much like a police agency where the heroes got along well. In an Alan Moore penned story for Swamp Thing that featured the League, they referred to each other by name, making them seem more (ironically as it sounds) human and friendlier to each other (always referring each other as their hero names always seems like a weird idea, especially if they were supposed to have worked together for years).
    • Was she Eclipso yet? That would explain it.
      • No, she became Eclipso after she was committed to Arkham.

  • Jean's motive for the whole plot to begin with. Jean & Ray split up the last time because she wanted to leave, and Ray didn't want her to go. The only thing she'd have needed to do to rekindle their relationship was go back and ask him for a date.
    • To say nothing of how ludicrous Jean's claim was that she'd not intended to kill Sue, but lugged along a friggin' flamethrower anyway.
      • In regards to the flamethrower, if I was a novice in using a size-changing belt and knew of subatomic worlds that I could get trapped in that could be dangerous, I'd bring along some offensive weaponry.
      • If I was a novice and decided to use a piece of size-changing technology, I would probably learn how to use it first before I decided to tap-dance on somebody's brain. Especially if I was familiar with the guy who invented it.

  • So we have a civilian as the only person on the Watchtower? Um, who the heck thought this was a good idea? First off, these heroes basically protect the entire planet, right? Natural disasters don't wait for the standard working hours of Metropolis (or whatever timezone the Watchtower is set to). It's always daytime somewhere, so there should be a minimum compliment of heroes up there at all times, or at least someone to keep the civilian away from the dangerous stuff!
    • Superman/Flash/GL can get to anywhere from anywhere faster than you can stand up. Having to use a teleporter to anywhere on Earth would slow them down.
    • This is a classic case of a writer not doing research, and this for an era in comics Meltzer supposedly loved. In the original comics of the Satellite era, there was at least one superhero on board at all times. It was called "24 hour monitor duty" and every single member took rotating shifts on it. This was talked about and referred to in numerous comics of that period. There should have been a superhero on board with Sue at the time Dr. Light broke in, and there would have been if this were an actual Satellite era comic. But there isn't for no other reason then because DC "needed" a rape.
  • After the Atom finds out his ex was responsible for Sue Dibny's death because she wanted him to come running back to her, why does he commit her to Arkham Asylum of all places!? Not only is that place hardly conducive to one's mental health, but the place also happens to hold 51% of all psychotic super villains at any given time & she's also publicly known as the Atom's ex-wife! Either the Atom is a phenomenal idiot, or he's just that cold.
    • Besides which, Arkham is an asylum in Gotham City, a place in which Jean Loring has never resided. There aren't any mental institutions in Ivy Town?
    • The woman went and did a tap dance on another woman's brain. Maybe it was out of the JLA's hands. And at least Arkham is trained to handle science-crimes. Allegedly.
      • "Maybe it was out of the JLA's hands." That's probably the case. It's likely the DCU has laws mandating that anyone who commits a crime using super-powers must be sent to a superhuman prison (Iron Heights, Stryker's, etc.). And since Arkham is the only superhuman prison we know of that's equipped to handle the mentally insane, the Atom's wife got sent there by default.
    • Then there's the questionable wisdom of putting someone who's blatantly demonstrated she knows Robin's secret identity in the vicinity of a bunch of Batman's enemies.
  • I have a few Headscratchers about this one. First of all, it gets revealed at the end that the burning of Sue Dibny's body was done by Jean with a flamethrower to conceal the real cause of death, a stroke. But then Ralph Dibny and the others immediately assume that Dr. Light (the evil one) was responsible, and that he burned her to death with his light powers. Except a flamethrower shoots a burning liquid (generally a petrochemical) that would have left an obvious residue at the crime scene, whereas a flash-burn from a high intensity beam of light would not. In short, the smell alone would probably exculpate Dr. Light immediately, but the detailed examination of the crime scene we see the heroes perform would definitely uncover accelerant residue. They finally do discover that it wasn't Dr. Light when Dr. Mid-Nite, performing the autopsy, finds that Sue's lungs are clean, showing no signs of smoke inhalation, supposedly demonstrating that she wasn't burned to death. The problem is that when you are burned to death, whether by being shot with a flamethrower or especially by being flash-burned by radiation, you don't inhale any smoke; you burn to death too quickly. People who die in building fires have smoke in their lungs typically because that's what they actually die from: smoke inhalation, not burning. Thirdly, as stated above, it is ultimately revealed that Sue Dibny was killed by what was, essentially, a stroke: Jean Loring used one of the Atom's shrinking suits to shrink down inside Sue's brain and then increase in size enough to kill her. This is eventually revealed when Dr. Mid-Nite finds Jean's footprints on Sue's brain. Really? A trained pathologist would not have been able to determine a stroke as the cause of death sooner? Strokes have highly recognizable symptoms, even allowing for the burns inflicted post-mortem. In short, the whole story makes no sense.
  • The incarnation of the Justice League with which Sue Dibny was by far the most deeply involved, one she worked for, in fact, was the JLE, hands down (Green Arrow even points this out in his narration!). Yet other than Ralph Dibny (obviously) and Wally West, both of whom were in other versions of the League also, we barely see any of the other JLE members in the story, and none of them have major roles. So Green Arrow, who, as far as I can determine, barely knew Sue, narrates most of the story, but Captain Atom, who was one of her best friends for years, gets one appearance and no lines. Likewise for Power Girl. Rocket Red (unless he's the guy at the very back of the funeral, out of uniform), Blue Jay and Metamorpho didn't even get that.
    • Brad Meltzer was mainly interested in the Silver Age. The fact that people like Green Arrow and Black Canary are more popular and recognizable then Rocket Red and Blue Jay probably also had something to do with it.
      • I don't care what era of comics Brad Meltzer is interested in. Also, I'm not entirely convinced that Green Arrow (Black Canary, it so happens, did not have a particularly big role in the story) is that much more popular than Power Girl, or even Captain Atom (against Blue Jay or Rocket Red, okay sure). It's still bad storytelling. Especially since this story is entirely parasitic on previous continuity anyway. We see virtually nothing of Sue Dibny in this entire story, so the only reason to have any emotional investment in the character, and therefore to care about her death, is because of having read earlier stories in which she appeared. To ignore facts established therein about her character, and her relationships with other characters, undermines the whole premise for the story.
      • That's an interesting way to put it, the being parasitic part. I would've said Sue is more of an accessory in the content of the story than anything else, a link through which Ralph may suffer some horrible, gut-wrenching grief (which is probably worse). It likely would've been more fitting if Meltzer focused on people from the era of comics in which Sue was most prominent, but Meltzer seems to have a really annoying love of the Silver Age, so I'm not surprised he'd totally ignore it (read his relaunch of the Justice League comic - it's one long love letter to how cool the Silver Age was). It bugs me too, that he can't get over it. Also, I think Green Arrow just happens to be his favorite superhero. Out of the three comics he's written, they include a Green Arrow storyline, Identity Crisis, in which most of the action is told from Ollie's point of view, and Justice League of America (vol. 2) in which Roy "graduates" by becoming "Red Arrow" and Ollie has a lot of screen time in spite of not becoming a member.
      • I say it's parasitic because that's what it is. As I've said elsewhere, its characters are DC's capital stock. Killing off a character is like spending from capital: it may generate a revenue surge in the short term, but then you can't tell any more stories about that character. This story consumes capital by killing off or otherwise eliminating characters fans cared about, but does nothing to add to that stock. The story does nearly nothing to establish Sue or Ralph as characters. Just imagine the same exact narrative, but with two completely new characters in the place of Ralph and Sue. Do you think that would have had anything like the same emotional impact? I don't. Instead, Meltzer took two characters fans already cared about because of previous stories told by other writers, and used that to generate impact. Except he undermined that impact by not respecting the continuity established in those previous stories. If Meltzer loves Green Arrow so much, he can write all the GA stories he wants. But he should respect the rest of the shared universe that GA is a part of, and the characters that other people also care about.
      • Good points all around, but Meltzer seems to get Protection From The Editor when he writes for DC, so I think he got free reign to do whatever he wanted for the story. And what he wanted was to write about the Silver Age. I didn't care very much for all the focus on Green Arrow either, especially with how he comes off as an asshole at times, but it's what he wanted. I think the Silver-Age Focus got even worse with his relaunch of the Justice League.
  • There's also that Sue's death occurred in Opal City, and towards the end of Robinson's Starman run, she and Ralph had met and worked with the Shade, who quite liked them. Given Richard Swift's historical response (hint: it involves murder) when someone, especially some out-of-towner intruding in his city, targets anybody he's personally fond of, you wonder where he was during all this. Of course, given the quality of the writing, he was personally better off staying the hell away from this crazy plot.
  • Elongated Man, Batman and numerous other detectives are involved in this story, yet none of the detective work proceeds as a real case would. As we see, anyone can set a fire with a few simple tools or weapons, but all of the superheroes race off to find fire-based villains regardless of how tangentially (or not-at-all) they know Sue Dibny. Later, just to drive the point home, Jean is attacked with rope (attached using a standard knot), so they interrogate Slipknot even though he is in jail, cannot tie a rope now that he has only one arm, and has never met Jean or Sue.
    • I think the series implies the JLA was desperate and looking for anyone with any connection to the murders, but that wasn't explored enough. Green Arrow points out how they're grasping at straws, but that makes him look like an asshole since he just criticizes his friend's efforts to find the killer without suggesting any alternative course of action.
    • Add to that the fact that, whenever fire marshals or police find a corpse in a fire-scene, the first thing they are trained to check is whether the fire was set to cover up a murder, or disguise the real cause of death. That's just standard operating procedure for fire marshals and police in cases like this. Are we seriously supposed to believe that the world's supposedly greatest detectives wouldn't know this, and act accordingly?
  • Meanwhile, there is no mention of Sue Dibny's actual arch-enemy, Sonar! In the Elongated Man mini-series, she encourages the nation of Modora to overthrow Sonar (Bito Wladon). Later, in Justice League Europe, he conquers the entire fallen Soviet Union and parts of Europe. However, this scheme entirely fails because he had tried to woo Sue away from Ralph and she played him for a sucker. The guy could have been the next Napoleon, except for Sue Dibny. Sonar should have been the likeliest suspect, even with the rape by Dr. Light.
    • Sonar was eventually seen in Belle Reve Prison, cursing out Hal Jordan. I guess the implication is that Sonar was locked up by Hal since before "Emerald Twilight".
  • Ralph Dibny never questioned what happened to Dr. Light until they are outside his apartment? Really?
  • Suppose Ralph and Sue had come back from the hospital ready to go public (as is their nature) with this crime? How can they prosecute Dr. Light in court for rape if the Justice League has mind-wiped him? Why is all this done without even consulting the victims about their intentions?
    • There's an escalation risk. The details of the JLA Satellite being vulnerable, and a public hero's wife being a target means a Metahuman, or Badass Normal rogue tries it again. With someone else, or targeting the Dibnys' again. There's always someone scarier out there.
  • How likely is it that Black Canary, an outspoken feminist, would be voting to protect Dr. Light for raping her friend? (This is later referenced in an issue of Justice League of America.)
    • While Dr. Light's crime was horrible, perhaps she just felt that the punishment was inhumane, recognizing that Dr. Light is still human and that lobotomizing him would be a huge breach of ethics, even in the treatment of a rapist. Superheroes are usually very cautious in dealing out punishment themselves as it can lead to Jumping Off the Slippery Slope.
  • This one is sort of minor compared to most of the others posted already, but why the hell was Kyle sitting at the League conference table at the end? He was in space at the time due to events in his own series. Now granted, his presence throughout most of the series could be explained as that he decided to come back briefly for Sue's funeral and the investigation into her death, but that still doesn't change the fact that he left the League and handed his seat to John Stewart before leaving Earth—and we saw John at the funeral, too. What, Meltzer just didn't care?
    • That'd be my bet. His stories usually have minor errors like that.
  • Sue was burned to death by a flamethrower, and the heroes automatically assume it must be a villain with either fire powers (ignoring the trace evidence that should remain from fuel, as noted above) or a villain who habitually uses a flamethrower, such as Heat Wave. But, as the ending shows, anybody can theoretically use a flamethrower. Sloppy detective work on the part of all the heroes to assume that the use of a weapon indicates identity; it'd be like only chasing down knife-themed villains after a stabbing.
    • Their reasoning was probably influenced by the fact that a flamethrower, much like a chainsaw, is a hideously impractical weapon, and that nobody would use one unless they periodically would have cause to carry one.
  • Why is Batman going on about the 'who benefits?' thing when his own enemies mostly commit crimes with no tangible benefit? Murder for the sake of murder should not be a new idea to him.
    • Maybe, but most of Batman's enemies are criminally insane. Sue's death left very little evidence (footprints on brain aside), and this, among other things (such as Tim Drake's dad getting killed), makes this mystery less of a who or how dunnit and more of a why-dunnit. Jean is the only one that benefits. If it was a who-dunnit, the suspect list would be much shorter and we would have been given more evidence; and it's not a howdunnit because there isn't enough evidence. Batman is asking the correct question.
  • This has more to do with the fallout from the premises and retcons Identity Crisis set up, but: after the revelation that a group within the League had been engaging in mindwipes on a regular basis when villains discovered their secret identities and such, other DC series(es?) revealed in turn that seemingly-reformed villains like Flash's old-school Rogues and Catwoman were actually brainwashed by Zatanna into goodness (or, in the case of the Rogues, she brainwashed one who then attacked the rest). But in the meantime, while she was neutralizing burglars and bank robbers, menaces like The Joker who actually killed and maimed people were still running around apparently unaffected. Zatanna's priorities might need a little work.
    • Well, the obvious answer is you can't retcon Zatanna as the cause for villains turning good for villains who didn't turn good. As for why she didn't use it on some of the bigger threats.... You could argue most of the big name baddies in the DCU would be immune due to a resistance to magic (Black Adam, Circe), being morally convinced they're not actually bad guys (Luthor) or too mentally unstable to be effected by the brain-washing (most of Arkham). The Joker in particular is so crazy most mind-effecting stuff like the Scarecrow's fear gas or at times the Martian Manhunter's telepathy don't work that well on him, if at all.
    • And really, if Joker suddenly turned good, the entire Bat-family would start asking more questions. And if Bats and Joker's relationship is something to go by, he would not appreciate a lobotomy like that...
  • Why is this story called Identity Crisis anyways? It has nothing to do with heroes identities being at stake.
    • The entire story is about trying to find a killer who seems to know the identities of league members and killing their loved ones. That's kind of obvious.
    • And on another level, the story is about the discovery of some very un-heroic decisions by 'heroes'... and how badly the discoverers react to that. They're having crises of identity, re-evaluating what they thought they knew.
  • When they decided to make Dr Light a more threatening villain, why didn't they think that his powers could make him a heavy hitter? Think about what he could do with manipulating light: he could generate red sunlight to pacify Superman, or try to make Hard Light constructs to deal with Green Lantern. Or just glow brighter than a thousand suns to blind his enemies, or even use the more direct "fry them with light." Manipulating other spectrums of light could also become an option. Why settle for making him extra evil instead of exploiting the potential of his powers?
  • So just where do they get the idea that somehow people think the heroes didn't go around mind-wiping villains (and bystanders for that matter) who learned a hero's secret ID? Particularly that somehow Superman, one of the most common mind-wipers, was too 'moral' to go around doing it? He once wiped Lana Lang's memories for a 24hr period while in college just after she briefly found his costume in a book she'd borrowed (must have made class fun the next day when she realized she'd lost an entire day's memories). It was such a common thing for heroes to do in the Silver Age that Green Lantern once complained to the Flash how overdone it was when Major Disaster revealed their secret ID to their girlfriends (he wasn't above leaving out that bit though when a convenient memory loss for everyone in the area due to the villain's actions required him to use his ring to restore their memories). If there was something Super-heroes weren't above doing in the Silver Age it was mind-wiping people including loved ones to hide their or someone else's secret ID. They only became moral enough to stop doing that AFTER the original Crisis.
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