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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 (Tom King) 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:

  • 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 its antagonistic behavior ever even acknowledged.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Arc Words: "Crisis" is a callback to some of DC's most famous storylines.
  • Artistic License – History: In her confessional, Donna Troy talks about how historians don't know if the city of Troy actually existed. Even with her saying "They find ruins, but they don't know.", Troy is indeed a real place.
  • 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.
  • 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. In the end, it's only "solved" not because anyone correctly figures it out, but because the culprit confesses to the crime on his own volition.
  • 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: In light of the highly variable state of the DCU post-Rebirth, several explanations presented by heroes for why they were at Sanctuary creates some issues with the state of the canon universe. Most of them have to do with the fact the DCU exists post-Continuity Reboot from the New 52, borrowing ideas that aren't quite in date (though some of them would be addressed and reintegrated into the current canon following Heroes in Crisis):
    • 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 ignored this and reinforces his problems with heroin.
    • 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 contradicts how hey concurrently appeared in Green Arrow at Roy Harper's funeral.
    • Wally West's grief is written as if Linda and the kids are lost forever, and it's not presented as a possibility that he could get them back. Putting aside the questionable potential of the latter point, this contracts Flash War, which outright stated that Irey and Jai were alive somewhere, but Wally had no way to find them, while Linda herself wasn't even lost just lacking her pre-Flashpoint memories.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, and 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.
  • 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: 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.
  • 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. Turns out, however, that there is a very good reason for this: Wally was faking his own death.
  • Frame-Up: Wally West frames both Booster Gold and Harley Quinn for the Sanctuary massacre. 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Gorn: Blue Jay's tiny body is devoured by crows.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Another metatextually dubious case of this occurs with Sanctuary itself: 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, wouldn't be anywhere near effective for treating patients in real life, but the comic appears to be broadly aware of this — Wally's reasoning for hacking the computer is that based on the psychological abuse it was inflicting, Sanctuary might've actually been a trap for supervillains. Unfortunately, this doesn't end up getting resolved as Sanctuary itself fades from the story altogether by the end.
  • 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.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Harley Quinn mocks the therapy provided at Sanctuary. Given what ends up happening there, one could very well agree with her.
  • 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.
  • Lost 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, but 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.
  • 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 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.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands:
    • The killings occur due to a previously-unmentioned case of Power Incontinence regarding the Speed Force.
    • Kryptonite has gone from "bright" to "an outright flashbang that can blind everyone".
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
    • The masks given to the patients for anonymity heavily resemble the Psycho-Pirate's Medusa Mask, indicating that he might potentially be involved in the tragedy, which would make sense given his powerset. Ultimately, he never appears or is even mentioned in the story.
  • 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 everyone at Sanctuary was facing trauma as terrible as he faced, but upon secretly obtaining the confessionals of dozens of heroes and viewed them all nearly simultaneously, the revelation that yes, most of them were, 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.
  • 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 (2004).
    • With later issues, many began comparing it to Emerald Twilight. To continue the comparison, it was originally going to directly lead into the Generation reboot, meaning it'd have gotten its own Zero Hour: Crisis in Time! until Dan DiDio left and DC scrapped a lot of the G5 plans.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 and learned the severity of just how badly damaged everyone else was, he was not in a healthy mental state to take it well, and his resulting panic is where things went south.
    • It's later played straight by Booster Gold, who helps talk Wally down from committing temporal suicide.