Follow TV Tropes


Comic Book / Heroes in Crisis

Go To

Heroes in Crisis is a 2018 Crisis Crossover published by DC Comics, written by Tom King and drawn by Clay Mann.

Catering to the high cost of trauma in the superhero community, Sanctuary was established, giving them a safe space to cope and recover from whatever's plaguing them.

But when a number of its patients are killed by an unknown assailant, it's up to Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman to lead the murder investigation — with Harley Quinn and Booster Gold emerging as the prime suspects.

Heroes in Crisis is the latest entry in a long line of crisis crossovers with the word "crisis" in the title, but whereas most of those storylines (except Identity Crisis) were very cosmic and grandiose, this one is more existential and personal, inspired by a traumatic experience in King's life prior to the series.


The Flash (Rebirth) and Batman (Rebirth) have a tie-in crossover to the event called "The Price", which features Barry Allen and Bruce Wayne's investigation into a suspect for the murders: Gotham Girl.

The miniseries received two follow-up series: Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy and Flash Forward, which both deal with the aftermath of the event.

Tropes in Crisis:

  • All There in the Manual: DC Nation explains why certain characters were at Sanctuary in the first place even though it's never brought up in the series proper.
  • Aborted Arc: There were very clearly changes made to the story as it was being published, with setup and hints for events and reveals that never happened:
    • The Sanctuary AI is shown to be acting very antagonistic to patients in flashbacks before the massacre, and the solicitation for issue #7 said that the AI running Sanctuary was stopping the Trinity from getting to the culprit, whose identity they now knew. None of that occurs in any form in the final issues. Wally isn't revealed to be the killer until Issue #8, the Trinity isn't the group that ends up confronting Wally, and the AI has no role at all in the ending, nor is it's antagonistic behavior ever even acknowledged.
    • Advertisement:
    • Patients at Sanctuary are given white robes and a golden mask, the mask appearing similar to the one worn by Psycho Pirate. Even if they were meant to conceal their identities, there's never any reason given for why patients are made to wear a mask identical to that of a criminal who is certifiably insane. It's possible this, along with the above example, was intended to tie into a subplot focused on Sanctuary's mismanagement by the AI, but it never comes up in the end.
    • Unlike the other victims, Lagoon Boy's death is shown early on in the series; he's impaled by a spear, seemingly not at all by accident. That doesn't line up in any way with what we're ultimately told happened, and many don't find Tom King's attempt to blame it on his own 'poor writing' (his words) that believable.
    • Perhaps oddest of all, the previous issues and the solicitations for the last three issues seemed to indicate it would be the Trinity (plus maybe Barry) who would solve the mystery and confront the perpetrator. This doesn't happen. They only learn Wally was behind it because he taped a confession, and the Trinity has virtually no involvement in the final two issues.
    • Among the dead in the first issue is an unidentified Green Lantern. It is never explained who this is, but by the end of the series, Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, John Stewart and Kyle Rayner are depicted as alive. This implies that it was meant to be Simon Baz or Jessica Cruz who died (probably more Simon as the subject seems male)... but it's never brought up and is treated like just another hero died and there's no mention of the ring seeking a replacement wielder.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Heavily implied to be subverted in regards to Harley's well-known nickname for the Joker. Harley admits to Booster that she's actually always hated pudding, suggesting that calling the Joker that was meant as a Stealth Insult.
  • Anyone Can Die: Including Arsenal.
  • Arc Words: "Crisis" is a callback to some of DC's most famous storylines.
  • Artistic License – Law: Lois receives the private confession videos from Wally and ultimately decides to publish them with minor editing to hide the secret identities of those involved. At no point is it implied that she asked any of the individuals' permission before publishing them. While many of said individuals died in the massacre, many of them are still alive, and even in the case of the deceased, she's still in a very ethically dicey area. Privacy and speech laws involving these kinds of matters are still messy and undecided, but it's very likely most other journalists and journalist ethics groups would condemn her when they learned that, and she would likely be sued by just about every single person whose video she released if they were regular people. She's only protected by virtue of the people in question all being superheroes with secret identities, meaning they can't really sue her without exposing themselves.
  • Artistic License – Physics: The killer manipulates the bodies to disguise the cause of death, specifically to throw Batman and Barry Allen off the trail. As a result, some bodies appear bludgeoned, while others appear cut via laser. Except all of them are killed via Speed Force electricity. Even assuming nobody could tell the difference between a smashy-smashy death vs. a pewpew lasers one, an autopsy would reveal death by electrocution for all involved.
  • Back for the Dead: The first issue alone seems to exist for the sake of bringing back characters DC hasn't used in years, only to kill them off. Including Hotspot and Lagoon Boy of the Teen Titans, and Commander Steel of the Detroit version of the Justice League.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • Deconstructed with Commander Steel during his confessional. He admits that he genuinely has no idea how he came back from the dead after his remains were disturbed, and he's clearly haunted by the idea that the cause (whatever it was) may not stick.
    • Poison Ivy was killed in the initial massacre at Sanctuary, but comes back to life later. She had placed a piece of her essence into a flower that she gave to Harley. Said piece was able to restore itself by merging with the Green, and Wally West uses his powers to accelerate her growth back to normal size.
  • Broken Aesop:
    • The thing that is triggering this Crisis Crossover is an attempt at defying There Are No Therapists within the superhero community (and thus comics) Gone Horribly Wrong. It's difficult to say if this story actually does or doesn't do that. There are no actual therapists at Sanctuary and the ending has more heroes going to Sanctuary than ever before, despite most of the events in the series giving them every logical reason to not even consider it. Also, still with no sign of any therapists.
    • Apparently the message of Wally West's role in the story is that he's wrong to want his wife and children back, despite mounting evidence that Linda Park's erased memories of her time with Wally and the disappearance of Jai and Iris West are more proof of how Doctor Manhattan tampered with the universe for the worse. Even though Wally has been told his children are still out there somewhere and can be found, he's made out to be obsessive and in the wrong for wanting them back. What breaks this even further is how Wally's aunt Iris regained her memories of the pre-Flashpoint universe with no difficulty, raising the question of why Wally wanting Linda to remember their family is supposedly so terrible. It gets a hell of a lot worse when it is revealed that this devolved into an It's All About Me attitude and full-blown mental breakdown that slaughtered everybody at Sanctuary accidentally.
    • The story in the end vindicates Wally for leaking the Sanctuary files to Lois, with everyone saying it was a good thing to show that people need help. Except the matter of privacy is never brought up, nor is the fact that the files were leaked to Lois with the heroes identities on full display, as she is the one who blurred them out, not Wally. In addition, none of the people gave their testimony knowing it would be recorded. But the comic paints the act as something that almost outright redeems Wally, and the matter of privacy and whether or not any hero wanted their testimony revealed is never, ever touched upon.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The flower that Harley carries after escaping Sanctuary. It had been given to her by Ivy before the massacre, and Harley drops it off of a bridge in honor of Ivy's memory after her death. It's recovered by Wally, who (thanks to his future self) knew that Ivy had placed a piece of her essence inside of it. That piece of Ivy was able to grow a new body for her after merging with the Green, and Wally uses his powers to accelerate her growth until she's back to normal size.
  • Clueless Mystery: Of the entire mystery, almost all the clues are misdirects or irrelevant to the larger story. Making things worse is that the "solution" involves a retcon that makes no sense to anyone familiar with the Flash lore.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • When Wonder Woman points out Batman's tendencies to be Crazy-Prepared, she specifically mentions his history of developing countermeasures against each member of the Justice League.
    • Kyle Rayner's session has him repeat his personal Arc Words from Tom King's Omega Men run.
    • Poison Ivy's resurrection as a plant elemental has been foreshadowed off and on since Neil Gaiman wrote Black Orchid, nearly 30 years.
  • Continuity Snarl: Many, if not most, of the reasons why certain heroes were at Sanctuary cause problems for the current DC continuity. The reason for so many snarls is likely the result of DC continuity, at the time of publication of this series, being an even bigger mess than it usually is. DC Rebirth allowed writers to pick and choose what continuity they wanted to use for the stories they were writing, but plenty of stuff from New 52 stayed in. It seems King took advantage of this in the series to allow him to have confessionals with versions of the characters that would be the most traumatized and interesting to explore, without much concern for how it would all fit in, such as Beast Boy after Terra's death, or Ted Kord after dying in Infinite Crisis. Granted, some of these snarls, specifically the ones related to the series own tie-ins and lead-ins, is likely the result of poor editorial oversight or the writer not being overly concerned with continuity. In a few cases, such as Dove and Doctor Light II, it's likely the result of the writer not being overly familiar with the character and writing them based on limited knowledge.
    • Lagoon Boy was traumatized by the Titans East massacre at the hands of the Sons of Trigon, even though that would require Cyborg to have still been a Teen Titan even though that never happened in the post-Flashpoint universe.note 
    • Hotspot was dealing with trauma for his time with the H'San Natall Teen Titans, despite how they never appeared in the New 52 or Rebirth.note 
    • Arsenal was addicted to painkillers and switched to heroin out of fear of damaging his kidneys. The only time Roy abused pain medication was after his arm was cut off in Justice League: Cry for Justice, which explicitly never happened because his daughter doesn't exist in the current universe. Even post-Flashpoint, there's never been any mention of painkillers and Roy's addiction problems were related to either alcohol or heroin. Green Arrow #45 even ignores all this and reinforces his problems with heroin.
    • Superman mentions his struggle with his duality of being both Clark Kent and Superman, with Clark being clumsy and Superman being perfect. Except Clark Kent hasn't acted clumsy in a long time, so this would have to take place extremely early in Superman's career, which it makes no indication of (the rest clearly take place a while into everyone's careers and Superman was active earlier than most of them). This stands out because Superman's continuity is slightly less of a mess thanks to Superman Reborn than the rest of the DCU characters.
    • Commander Steel mentions his numerous deaths and how this affected him, specifically referencing being killed by Doctor Ivo's android in Legends and his subsequent return as a Black Lantern in Blackest Night. Both of these incidents happened to Hank Heywood III, the second Steel, but the dated language he uses in Heroes in Crisis (such as "fisticuffs" and "donnybrook") implies this is Hank Heywood Sr., the original Steel.
    • Ted Kord seems to remember his own death from Infinite Crisis for some reason, despite never making mention of it since his return via Cosmic Retcon. If his death happened, then Infinite Crisis must've also happened, which it didn't post-Flashpoint; and if it did, how Ted is back isn't even slightly touched on. Adding on, Blue Beetle Rebirth established that Ted Kord had retired from superheroics due to health concerns, whereas here he's apparently still active.
    • Gnarrk is hinted in the third issue to be one of the people who died at Sanctuary, which makes absolutely no sense because he shows up in Green Arrow at Roy Harper's funeral which explicitly takes place after the massacre. The sixth issue even spends a great deal focusing on Gnarrk before he dies with Protector, but even more jarringly he's speaking like a stereotypical caveman despite how he hasn't spoken like that since he was reintroduced in Titans Hunt (2015).
    • Issue 7 also has Bruce and Barry bantering in a cordial way. This is after "The Price", where they had a falling out that is established to ruin the trust and friendship between the two that lasts well past Heroes in Crisis.
    • Wally West says being imbued with the Speed Force means that the person must always work to keep it contained, and apparently him not being able to do so is what caused the shockwave that killed everyone at Sanctuary. This is completely new and doesn't actually make sense: In "Flash War", the story immediately preceding Heroes in Crisis, Barry explicitly says that Wally is faster than him because he cuts loose. Not to mention Bart Allen has pretty much never had self control when it comes to using the Speed Force, and he's never accidentally murdered anyone because of it.
      • Similarly, Wally's reason for being at Sanctuary doesn't actually make sense. He's there because, in the aftermath of "Flash War", time travel was closed off to speedsters, meaning Wally can't find his kids. Except it's revealed in the story that Booster Gold's time-travel technology is fully operational and Wally knows this. So... why didn't they use it to find his kids in the first place? Never explained. The need for a Stable Time Loop is also moot given that they were eliminated via Cosmic Retcon, so there's no need to maintain their place at the point they disappeared.
      • The other reason for him being at Sanctuary is people not acknowledging his missing wife and kids and putting him up on a pedestal as a symbol of hope. Except several people have acknowledged Linda, Irey and Jai (more often than not, in fact), and the idea of Wally as embodying hope has never actually been claimed in-universe — it's a statement from DC and the interpretation of many, many readers, but purely on a meta level.
      • Also, Wally's grief is clearly written as if Linda and the kids are lost forever. Not once does it come up that it's entirely possible he could get them back. This also contradicts "Flash War", which outright stated that Irey and Jai were alive somewhere, but Wally had no way to find them. Linda herself isn't even lost (though she hasn't been seen in quite a while, if you don't count the Sanctuary simulations), she just doesn't have her pre-Flashpoint memories, with the problem there being that Wally, for a reason that has never been adequately explained, can't restore her memories of their past life but can with characters like Magenta and his aunt Iris. This snarl is even worse when it's shown in Young Justice that Zatanna was able to restore Tim Drake's pre-Flashpoint memories of Young Justice, meaning there are other methods.
    • Doctor Light II (Kimiyo Hoshi) wonders why she still uses Doctor Light I's name, referencing the villainous Light's history of rape following Identity Crisis. Two problems: 1. Both Doctor Lights were contemporaries, becoming in/famous at the same time (Light II is Japanese, and her exploits were explained as largely unknown in the US), and that the current Doctor Light I has only just recently become superpowered, and his villainous traits are not yet common knowledge.
    • Beast Boy laments the death of Terra, his first love. Terra isn't dead as of the New 52 and in Rebirth, she is a supporting character in Deathstroke (Rebirth).
    • Dove shows up in-costume bemoaning how she always has to take responsibility for Hawk. Dove cannot transform into her costumed identity without danger present, and her motivation since day one has been helping keep Hawk in line.
    • Tim Drake shows up after the main events of the series, giving his own testimonial. He's labeled as "Red Robin", when he had already gone back to using the Robin name alongside Damian Wayne.
    • Perhaps most noticeably, if only because of how reviled his current status quo is, Nightwing appears along with the other Robins, perfectly normal and seemingly aware of who he is, despite his current status quo at the time of this issue being released has him with amnesia and going by a different name. Some speculate that the final confessions could all be taking place either quite awhile after the events of the rest of the series(after Dick inevitably regains his memory), or, less likely but possible, before he suffered the injury that gave him amnesia.
    • In Issue #7, Wally recites a poem he says Linda read at their wedding. Except she didn't. Wally and Linda's wedding occurred during Wally's solo series, and no poetry was involved — the wedding explicitly contained nothing but the actual officiating of their marriage, because Wally rushed through the entire thing (It Makes Sense in Context). And this can't be explained by Flashpoint or Rebirth creating an alternate version of the wedding (like could be claimed for Clark and Lois), because at present they aren't married, at least not in any way that's acknowledged in the current universe, so the only wedding they've had is the one depicted Pre-Flashpoint.
    • Superman asks Batman if he has kryptonite in his belt, and is later surprised when it turns out he does. Superman knows that Batman has contingencies for the League going rogue and specifically that Bruce has kryptonite reserved for him, and post-Crisis and post-Flashpoint, he's the one who gave it to Bruce.
  • Covers Always Lie: Issue 7's cover shows Superman breaking up a fight between Booster Gold and Harley Quinn; there is a fight, but Supes is nowhere to be seen on the inside pages. Even more frustratingly, the solicits for the issue stated the Trinity would learn the identity of the killer only to find they were being protected by the Sanctuary A.I. gone rogue. Absolutely nothing like that happens, nor does Wonder Woman appear much like Superman was absent. This can apply to most of the solicitations for the final few issues. They bear no resemblance to what actually occurs in their issues.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: The plan Booster Gold comes up with to help him and Blue Beetle solve the mystery basically amounts to "break into the Flash's lab, knock him out, take the evidence he's compiled, solve the case." Beetle is skeptical until Booster argues that because his plan is so dumb, the other heroes would never expect it. It works perfectly, and even gives them a vital clue.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Lampshaded by Superman and Wonder Woman, who point out that Batman always has countermeasures and secret backup plans when they insist that he must know more about what happens at Sanctuary than he's letting on, despite their mutual insistence on the facility's total confidentiality. Wonder Woman even goes so far as to insist that he's more than likely carrying kryptonite in his belt even as they speak, which he denies. He's lying about the kryptonite, at least.
    • Booster Gold's issue 9 explanation on how to solve all the problems with Wally's death counts as this, with special emphasis on the crazy.
  • Crisis Crossover: Involving all the characters of the DC Universe, though only indirectly. The actual cast of the series for the present events of the series is actually relatively small (unless you count the characters that are dead at the start). Most of the DCU characters only ever appear in confessionals and aren't in any way involved in the plot of the series.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Wally West hitting his is responsible for everything that happened at Sanctuary. Wally became so grief-stricken over the loss of his family that he became convinced Sanctuary was created solely for him, since he couldn't accept the idea that other patients there could feel the same level of misery as him. When he views everyone else's confessionals (nearly simultaneously thanks to his Super Speed), he discovers that this isn't the case. He flat-out states that this revelation broke him, leading to the Power Incontinence that killed almost everyone else present.
  • Deus ex Machina: How the problem of Wally needing a body is solved: Booster Gold just jumps into the future and clones a body of Wally to put in Sanctuary. This device was never mentioned or even slightly foreshadowed throughout the series.
    • How this would even work given that Wally frequently broke his limbs and hands, which would leave scar tissue not found in a cloned body's autopsy doesn't get a mention.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: A common criticism of the book has been that none of the looks into the characters' psychological problems matter because they're almost all Killed Offscreen by the time the book starts.
  • Did Not Think This Through: Booster Gold seeks out the Flash (Barry Allen) for help solving the mystery of the murders. However, even when it becomes clear that Flash doesn't know about the murders yet, Booster doesn't seem to realize that just telling him that Wally West is dead and that Booster himself may have killed him is a terrible idea (which Skeets repeatedly points out). Sure enough, Barry attacks Booster, thinking him to be responsible for Wally's death.
  • Dies Wide Open: Wally West's body is discovered with his eyes wide open.
  • Disney Death: To the surprise of no one, issue six reveals that Wally West and Posion Ivy are not really dead.
  • Driven to Suicide: Wally traveled five days into the future where his future self was waiting to be killed. Now, present!Wally's confessed and is waiting for his past self to show up so he can die as part of his way to atone for what he did.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him:
    • Roy Harper and Wally West are unceremoniously gunned down, and don't even appear in the story proper until after Superman discovers their bodies.
    • In the second issue, Poison Ivy is stated to be deceased as well.
    • In the third issue, we learn that Wally West died from a hammer to the back of the head by Harley Quinn. However, the sixth issue muddles this when a the scene of Wally finding Roy's body plays out with him getting blasted by Booster Gold through the chest. It's eventually revealed, however, that neither of these scenarios are actually true.
    • Other deaths include Blue Jay, Hotspot, Lagoon Boy, an unidentified Green Lantern, and Commander Steel. Gnaark, Solstice, Red Devil, the Protector, Gunfire, Tattooed Man, and Nemesis are also implied to be dead as well.
  • Due to the Dead: Harley drops a flower off of a bridge while lamenting the (apparent) death of Poison Ivy.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Sanctuary is first mentioned and seen in King's Batman.
  • Easily Forgiven: Zig-zagged; in the end, Booster seems extremely willing to forgive Wally for framing him for the murders and resolves to help him. Harley is sympathetic to Wally's situation (having been there herself), but still knees him in the groin and curses him for all of the grief he put her and Ivy through.
    • Superman allows Lois Lane to publish the secrets of Sanctuary and of all the heroes who went there for help. Absolutely none of the heroes who had their private thoughts exposed to the world hold this against Lois, or are even seen getting mad at her for what she did.
  • Epic Fail: To say Sanctuary was a massive failure could be the understatement of the century. Even if the idea of a center for heroes to get psychological help wasn't bad in theory, delegating all the work to an AI programmed by three people with no qualifications in the fields of mental health or therapy, said AI making all its patients relive their traumatic moments, and then keeping the patients isolated from one another, all of that combined together led to pretty much all of the patients only getting worse up until Wally West had a nervous breakdown that accidentally resulted in the deaths. Sanctuary's ineptness was so bad, Wally's reasoning for hacking the computer is he assumed the psychological abuse he was receiving meant Sanctuary was actually being controlled by supervillains as a trap.
  • Everyone Is a Suspect: But Harley Quinn and Booster Gold specifically are mentioned in the solicit for #1. It gets extremely convoluted because Booster thinks Harley is the killer, and vice versa, but Booster and Harley aren't sure if they themselves murdered everyone. Booster even tells Barry Allen he thinks he might've killed Wally.
  • Forgot About His Powers:
    • In the confrontation between Harley Quinn, Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, there are multiple examples. Batman seems to have forgotten how to escape a basic hold, Superman forgot he has superspeed and heat vision and Wonder Woman forgot she has superspeed and has a lasso that can compel the truth — the Rebirth version even goes for the universal truth, rather than what characters believe to be the truth, meaning she could very easily solve the mystery if she was able to get it around Booster or Harley.
    • Wally West during the massacre seems to have forgotten how to vibrate through things as well as, well, how fast he is. The scene plays out like the murderer had time to kill everyone by the time Wally got to Roy Harper, but "Flash War" established Wally as the fastest speedster in existence, yet Barry Allen is demonstrably faster than Wally is shown to be in this same story. There is a very good reason for this.
  • Frame-Up: Wally West frames both Booster Gold and Harley Quinn for the Sanctuary massacre through the use of Gaslighting. Granted, it seems the frame up was never meant to actually have Harley Quinn or Booster Gold go down for the crime, as Wally's taped confession is what exonerates them and he seemingly always intended to confess, it was simply to keep the Trinity distracted for five days by having them chase Harley and Booster. But he did still frame them, and its entirely possible said chase could've ended with either of them getting killed accidentally or others being harmed in the hunt for them.
  • Gaslighting: How Wally tricked both Harley and Booster into thinking the other was the killer. The two had missed Wally's accidental killing of the other patients at Sanctuary; when they tried to leave their VR chambers to see what had happened, Wally super-sped them back in without their knowledge and reprogrammed the chambers to show them holograms of the other killing Wally. He them super-sped them out to the real exterior of Sanctuary, leaving them unaware that what they had seen wasn't real.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: Every person in Sanctuary is given complete privacy for as long as they need. While this is supposed to be so that they can speak and act freely, the actual effect is that everyone's in solitary confinement. It's a wonder more people didn't go crazy.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: What happened to Wally. He had believed that Sanctuary was made just for him, that there was no way that other heroes were suffering like he was. He learned that the confessions at Sanctuary were always deleted and took that as a challenge. He was able to recreate all of the confessions and it broke him to know that he wasn't alone in such suffering.
  • Groin Attack: When all is said is done, Harley knees Wally in the groin and curses him out for all of the grief he's put her and Ivy through.
  • Gorn: Blue Jay's tiny body is devoured by crows.
  • Hero Killer: The culprit is specifically targeting supers. Except it turns out no one is 'targeted' at all. The deaths are all the result of an accident, and it's only supers that die because only supers were at Sanctuary.
  • Hollywood Psych: Possibly only in-universe, but Wally West seems terribly disappointed at not recovering in three weeks of treatment. In reality, treatment for most psychological issues, including the grief of losing children, is likely to last the entirety of the patient's life. The fact that his so-called "treatment" is only making him worse makes it seem like he just wants this to end and is upset he's not making any progress.
  • Hope Bringer: Deconstructed with Wally West. He's aware that all of his friends and teammates see him as a sign of hope, but this only makes him feel depressed due to the grief of losing his family.
  • Hypocrite: The Protector's confessional reveals that, despite his frequent anti-drug abuse lectures, he himself was a heavy drug user. It's all but stated that he maintained this double standard until he hit Rock Bottom and sought recovery.
  • Idiot Ball: Batman and the Flash cannot agree on the results of an autopsy implicating Booster Gold or Harley Quinn. This, despite Gold using lasers and Quinn using a mallet. Neither Batman nor Flash even think it odd that they can't tell the difference in injuries. It makes a little more sense when it's revealed that Wally deliberately staged the corpses to trick the two, though even then there are still issues, like Batman not being able to distinguish between antemortem and postmortem wounds, which he definitely should given he's shown to be able to perform autopsies.
  • Incest Subtext: Raven's confessional is a simple "My father loves me".
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Wally West accidentally kills all the heroes in Sanctuary. The next step? Framing Harley and Booster instead of trying to reach out to anyone. For extra measure? Defiling the corpses of his accidental victims, many of whom were his friends, just to leave red herrings for Barry and Batman.
  • Karma Houdini: Wally is not this since he turns himself in and is in prison at the end. Inexplicably though, Poison Ivy and Harley are seemingly free and together. Yes, they had no part in the deaths, and most of Harley's questionable actions in this series could maybe be excused due to the situation, but they're both still criminals regardless of anything in this series, and Poison Ivy was sent to Sanctuary by Batman instead of prison (which its questionable he actually had any right to do in itself); the arc that got her there in Batman had her take over the minds of numerous heroes and use them to attack Batman and Catwoman, and that's just her most recent crime. And she arguably ends this story better off by dying and being brought back as a part of The Green, from her perspective it's possibly all she could ever ask for.
    • The Trinity are never punished or held accountable for the ways they ran Sanctuary, even though it was made clear Sanctuary's methods were causing its patients more psychological harm and were the main cause in Wally's breakdown. By the end of the story, they leave Sanctuary running just as it was.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: In Issue #9, all the Robins reveal personal crises concerning what about them stands out compared to the others. Come Damian and he smugly says nothing's wrong with him and in an amused tone asks what the others were talking about.
  • Meaningful Name: "The Puddlers," the person or group responsible for the massacre at Sanctuary, is named after an old ironworking term. As Wonder Woman explains, puddlers would skim the surface of molten iron to remove any impurities that would weaken the final product. Wally explains further during his confessional: during the course of their job, puddlers would be exposed to harmful substances emanating from the iron they were working over, which generally lead to an early death. Wally compares them to the people who died at Sanctuary: people who worked hard to try to remove "impurities" but died far too soon.
  • Mockstery Tale: The massacre at Sanctuary was real, but Wally supposedly was too good at covering his tracks and he had to blurt out a Motive Rant for the investigators to finally figure things out. In the end, it's all about how much superhero life is incredibly traumatic in general and Wally's life sucks colossally in specific, and the massacre was just a (literal) side-effect of his Freak Out once it really got to him.
  • Mood Whiplash: The final issue suffers from this, both within the issue itself and arguably the rest of the series as a whole. Characters such as Booster Gold and Harley Quinn act weirdly comedic given what their objective is, and you'd think the whole ragtag group was just going on a little road trip as opposed to stopping Wally from killing himself. Not to mention many of the final confessions seem to be jokes or gags rather than serious looks at characters' psyche, which is in stark contrast to most of the confessions in previous issues. Also, Harley Quinn's Groin Attack on Wally seems rather out-of-place to do right after talking him down from suicide, deserved or not.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands:
    • Wally West is suddenly capable of compromising Kryptonian-level computer systems with Batman-designed security algorithms. The unlikelihood of this isn't even mentioned.
    • The killings occur due to a previously-unmentioned Power Incontinence that other, similar characters would find a useful ability in and of itself.
    • Booster Gold can tell from looking at a photograph that Wally's corpse is five days older than everyone else's. How he does this is explained only by him being a time traveler, even though Wally looks the exact same when the two Wallys eventually meet.
    • Kryptonite has gone from "bright" to "an outright flashbang that can blind everyone".
    • Subverted with Poison Ivy, as the new power she develops has been heavily foreshadowed for decades.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • The Trinity's decision to run Sanctuary with a computer programmed with their supposed best traits resulted in an AI that made the patients relive their traumatic experiences in ways that gradually wore them down and in fact worsened their mental health. This directly made Wally West suffer a nervous breakdown following weeks of isolation and dehumanization, essentially putting all the deaths on their shoulders due to their apathy and neglect. Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman are never punished for it.
    • Wally's accidental killing of almost everyone else at Sanctuary due to Power Incontinence is responsible for all of the misery that follows.
  • Power Incontinence:
    • Bluejay reveals that he's been dealing with this in his confessional. His shrinking powers would randomly activate when he's sleeping, leading to him nearly being smothered in his own bed.
    • According to Wally's confessional, this is how/why he killed most of the others: his connection to the Speed Force went off due to him learning the truth.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, Harley Quinn, and Batgirl eventually team up to solve the mystery of the Sanctuary murders once and for all. Though like with the Trinity, they don't solve the mystery either. The clue Booster Gold somehow obtained meant they were a bit closer than the Batman and Barry got, but it's still Wally's confession that explains what happened at Sanctuary. Though they are the group that ends up confronting Wally.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: In the final issue, Harley Quinn gets to Groin Attack Wally as payback for what he put her through and for temporarily killing (by accident) Poison Ivy. No one argues that what Wally did was wrong, but it has been pointed out that it is VERY hypocritical for HARLEY QUINN to get a Take That! to Wally. She wasn't even supposed to be at Sanctuary, and she has committed FAR worse acts than anything Wally did in this event throughout her life. She herself spends the majority of the event wanting to kill Booster Gold (and attempting it twice, with the second time being treated almost as Played for Laughs), so it can come across as a bit ridiculous she gets a chance for payback when she herself gets off scot-free and at the end gets to have a nice walk with Poison Ivy while Wally is locked up in prison, where she herself should be regardless of not being the one who committed the massacre.
  • Red Herring: Pretty much all of the clues are faked.
    • The teeth that link the killings to Harley or the Joker are revealed to have been planted.
    • Occasional testimonials that seemed to hint at the killer, such as Nemesis' presence and a creepy smile, are not relevant.
    • The hard light equipment, heavily hinted to be involved in the killings, were not actually involved at all.
  • Retcon:
    • Tom King retcons Arsenal's past drug addiction, which stemmed from depression and severe abandonment issues he'd suffered from (losing two father figures and getting shunned by his adopted community) before being neglected by Green Arrow, into Roy getting hooked on prescription pain meds given to him by doctors for injuries he got as a superhero before switching to heroin because he damaged his kidneys. Green Arrow #45, which takes place during Roy's funeral, completely ignores all this and retcons the retcon. Of course, its possible that both motivations contributed to his addiction.
    • The series, bizarrely, retcons when Wally remembered his children. Wally only remembered his children in Flash War, which occurred immediately before this event and was the reason he was in Sanctuary in the first place. This is retconned to him having remembered them since he got back in DC Rebirth, with it handwaved by saying that he always 'knew', even when he didn't remember. There is absolutely nothing that suggests that in his appearances beforehand and is very clearly only done to make Wally's return and everything following it retroactively bleaker to justify his actions in this series.
    • Speedsters suddenly have to exert constant control to avoid causing massive devastation around them, even if they're not moving.
    • Doc Magnus is in love with Platinum, despite literally decades of that not being true.
  • The Reveal:
    • Issue #5 reveals that the Wally West found dead at Sanctuary is five days older than he should have been, hinting that time travel is involved and all but confirming that he's still alive.
    • Issue #8 reveals why and how everyone died. As it turned out, Wally couldn't handle the idea that Sanctuary was designed for everyone, thinking it was made for him. When he recreated the confessionals of dozens of heroes and viewed them all nearly simultaneously, it broke him and accidentally caused alarms to go off when he escaped outside. When the others arrived, he lost control of his powers and killed them. Since Harley and Booster Gold were still inside, he was able to trick them into believing that the other was the real killer, killing a version of himself five days into the future and sending him back.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Black Canary decides to take a stab at a session in the Sanctuary...only to decide "ah, fuck this" and leaves, leaving six empty panels to have to awkwardly deal with her unexpected exit.
  • Shout-Out: Red Tornado ponders out loud about building his own family. Much like some other caped android superhero once written by Tom King.
  • Space Whale Aesop: Some reviews of the final two issues have pointed out the sheer absurdity and comicbookyness of Wally's situation just renders the scenario hard to relate to real-life experiences, no matter how hard you try. All of Wally's problems that get him sent to Sanctuary are the result of events that could only ever happen in superhero comics, and the accident that Wally causes that kills all the other heroes is something that really has no real-world equivalent. King says that its suppose to represent a mass shooting, but there are so many things off about that analogy that most refuse to see it that way.
  • Spiritual Successor: The latest DC Crisis Crossover with the word "crisis" in the title, it also tackles a smaller scale threat concerning heroes' personal lives and a breech of their trust. It's basically the 2010s version of Identity Crisis.
    • With later issues, many began comparing it to Emerald Twilight. To continue the comparison, it directly leads into the Generation reboot, meaning it gets it’s own Zero Hour!
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Inverted with the Robin's confessionals in the last issue. The three adult robins all compare themselves to the other two as well as Damian. When Spoiler's confessional comes up, she says "Did they mention me? I bet they didn't."
  • Stuffed in the Fridge: Shockingly, Poison Ivy is stated to be dead in the second issue. However, her body has suspiciously not yet made an appearance. It's eventually revealed that she did technically die, but a piece her consciousness was able to grow a new body from the flower Ivy had earlier given to Harley.
  • Take That!: Red Robin's confessional pokes fun at how the Robins are often flanderized in books such as Red Hood and the Outlaws and Detective Comics (Rebirth).
  • There Are No Therapists: Double Subverted. The original goal behind the creation of Sanctuary was an explicit In-Universe defiance of this trope, but as the arc goes on it is shown to the audience that it was so badly-constructed in general and mistreated Wally in specific that it was just asking to Go Horribly Wrong — and it did, to a degree that looked at first glance like a Crisis Crossover. To make things worse (or weirder), it is seemingly Played Straight in the end. Sanctuary reopens and there's no indication they've added any therapists or human staff of any kind, or that any changes were done to the program. And also, apparently, the complete absence of real therapists is in no way responsible for the massacre, or at least the story itself never acknowledges it.
  • Tonight, Someone Dies: The cover of September 2018's DC Nation magazine suggests one of the following characters —Arsenal, Harley Quinn, Tim Drake, Booster Gold, Cyborg, Kyle Rayner— will die in the series. The only character out of those six to die is Arsenal.
  • Unreliable Expositor: Both Harley Quinn and Booster Gold claim that the other is the murderer. However, Booster admits that he's not sure his claim is true, and it's ambiguous if Harley is telling the truth or not. As it turns out, neither of them are the killer, and they've been gaslighted to draw attention from the actual culprit.
  • Useless Protagonist: Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman to the degree that absolutely nothing they do in this story makes a difference to the plot. In fact, their actions made things worse and were in fact responsible for all the unpleasantness that ensued. Their monstrous half-assing of Sanctuary led to multiple heroes being mentally degraded and abused until Wally had his nervous breakdown, their investigation revealed absolutely nothing, they were all beaten by Harley Quinn, and Superman's permission for Lois to leak the Sanctuary tapes did nothing except potentially humiliate the hero community while committing a massive violation of civil liberties.
  • Wham Episode:
    • The second issue ends with Lois Lane receiving Arsenal's confession tape in an e-mail (despite said Sanctuary confessionals supposedly being immediately deleted), with the promise that more will be sent soon. This is after it is revealed that Superman AND Batman trusted the safety of the system enough to reveal their worst fears and secret identities to the AI, meaning that the mysterious Puddlers now know who they are and how to best hurt them.
    • The fifth issue reveals that the Wally West who was found dead at Sanctuary is five days older than he should have been, confirming that some form of time travel is involved.
    • The eighth issue reveals that Wally West was responsible for everything that happened at Sanctuary. He's also the one who's been rebuilding the confessionals and sending them to Lois Lane.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman have only cameo appearances following Harley fighting them off. Worse, despite Barry Allen's ties to Wally West, Barry disappears entirely after Booster Gold steals Barry's journals. Barry's not even present at Wally's arrest.
    • Nemesis appears in one of the earlier interview sequences, but never pops up again, even among the bodies. Given that Tom Tresser's a master of disguise, it's now anyone's guess whether he survived.
  • Writing for the Trade: The story's mystery elements don't advance every issue, and the psych sessions of some of the dead characters can come off as padding. It doesn't help that the series was supposed to be 7 issues but got bumped up to 9.
  • You Are Not Alone: Deconstructed. Wally believed that he was alone in his suffering, that Sanctuary was just designed to help him and him alone. When he found out otherwise, he broke.
    • It's later played straight by Booster Gold, who helps talk Wally down from committing temporal suicide.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: