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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 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.

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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.
  • 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 – 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.
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  • 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, and comes back — quite literally, as it seems she was turned into a flower, and Wally West uses his powers to accelerate her growth.
  • 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. If the aftermath of this mess doesn't lead to more superheroes believing that Therapy Is for the Weak, it'll be a miracle.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Continuity Snarl: Many of the reasons why certain heroes were at Sanctuary cause problems for the current DC continuity.
    • 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.
      • It's probably a retcon, a theory which is backed up by Justice League Odyssey, in which Cyborg and Starfire are old friends. Since they were strangers in New 52, that would mean that Cyborg WAS a Teen Titan. More than likely, the old continuity was restored for the team as a result of Superman Reborn. This also explains how Red Devil, who was powerless in New 52, could appear in Heroes in Crisis with his powers and history as Kid Devil intact.
    • 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.
    • 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).
    • Commander Steel mentions his numerous deaths and how this affected him. This only works because Tom King weirdly combined every iteration of Commander and Citizen Steel character into a single character.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 in hell other heroes were suffering. One of the Puddlers told him that the confessions were always deleted and Wally 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.
  • Hero Killer: The culprit is specifically targeting supers.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • It's implied the way Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman delegated all the work in Sanctuary to robots just made it easier for the massacre to happen, making them indirectly responsible for the dozens of victims.
    • 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.
  • Red Herring: Pretty much all of the clues are faked.
  • 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.
    • Part of Wally West's reason for 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 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.
    • Speedsters suddenly have to exert constant control to avoid causing massive devastation around them, even if they're not moving.
  • 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.
  • Show, Don't Tell: One of the biggest flaws with The Reveal from issue #8 revolving the mystery at Sanctuary: rather than the heroes putting all the pieces together and figuring out what happened, Wally West confesses, even though the pitch for the series was the investigation by the Big Three into the murders. And while efforts were made by the heroes to solve the puzzle, ultimately it's Wally's confession that solved the mystery, rendering all the investigation moot.
  • 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.
  • 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 her consciousness was able to grow a new body from nearby plants.
  • There Are No Therapists: Double Subverted. Sanctuary was supposed to be a strict In-Universe defiance of this trope. It's gone so horribly wrong that it's 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. So far, the one 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.
  • 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.

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