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YMMV / Identity Crisis

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  • Author's Saving Throw: Dr. Light used to be a serious threat capable of taking on the Justice League, but somewhere along the line, he became a comical punching bag of the Teen Titans. This mini explains why that change took place and restores him to his original characterization. This, however, backfired, since rather than becoming Love to Hate villain, many people simply found him way too loathsome and uncomfortable to read about—not helped by storyline in Green Arrow where him being a rapist became pretty much his sole character trait. Said storyline was one of only two major appearances following Identity Crisis, and he was killed off by Spectre merely three years after this story.
  • Broken Base:
    • The Deathstroke vs. Justice League fight. For all that is holy, never bring it up in any Versus Discussion, lest you want the thread to be completely derailed.
    • Notably, the book occupies many extremes simultaneously. Jean Loring claims not to have wanted Sue's death, but brought along a flamethrower anyway, perhaps as a baby shower present, as well as retconning Dr. Light into being a rapist which up ended up painting him as a more loathsome and uncomfortable character than it was intended, leading to DC later killing him off. On the other hand, the upgrade to Calculator, and the rarity of a Crisis Crossover focused more on a personal level than on an apocalypse, were all critically lauded elements. Not to mention it led to Ralph's epic storyline in 52.
  • Complete Monster: This is the series that landed Dr. Light his spot on DC's list. See that page for details.
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  • Creator's Pet: The writer is an admitted Deathstroke fanboy who wanted to establish his favorite character as a badass. And he did so in the most fanboyish way possible: clumsily. Deathstroke's victory over a Justice League of America team can only be described as a complete and total Ass Pull. Sure, the team of heroes he fought didn't include Batman, Superman, or Wonder Woman (two of whom would barely notice Deathstroke if he attacked them, and the third, Batman, would be ready for him if he did), but it did include the Flash and Green Lantern, neither of whom was portrayed as actually knowing how their own frigging powers worked during the fight. Key pieces are being somehow faster than the prototypical Super Speed superhero and overpowering Green Lantern's ring by developing stronger willpower (a facet that would be a reason for him to have the ring to begin with, not to mention not being how the ring works at all). It also included a direct reversal in how the Atom's powers normally work (the Atom does normally retain full mass when he shrinks) for no reason that was ever stated, and a complete and arbitrary nerfing of Black Canary's superpowers (she's easily able to rip through several feet of steel-reinforced concrete with her Canary Cry, but apparently, penetrating a single layer of burlap over her mouth is beyond her abilities if it's Deathstroke's burlap sack).
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  • Deader Than Disco: The miniseries was never lacking in detractors, but this was primarily because it was so big and popular; it was The Big Comic of 2004 That Everyone Was Talking About. Everywhere you went on comic sites, there were people debating over what it meant for the industry, whether its tonal shift boded darker stories, and whether the DCU would ever be the same again. But as the years ground on, the general opinion of Identity Crisis slipped from "controversial masterwork of our time" to "half-baked edgy fumble." Maybe it was how few of the story threads actually went anywhere or weren't promptly ignored or retconned, maybe it was how everyone tried to copy it at DC for a few years with increasingly weaker results (leading to very badly received stories like Countdown to Final Crisis, Amazons Attack and Justice League: Cry for Justice), maybe it was that people started examining it and separating it from its hype and found that it was actually a very lacking story in many ways. Whatever it is, Identity Crisis has very few fans today, and whenever someone admits to remembering liking it, they'll usually be greeted by everyone else pointing out its plot holes.
  • Epileptic Trees: While the series was being published, DC Direct cancelled a planned Kyle Rayner action figure and solicited a Black Hand figure for order. This, coupled with DC editorial remaining mum about whether or not Kyle would continue to be a Green Lantern in the wake of the then-upcoming Green Lantern: Rebirth mini-series, gave rise to a theory that Kyle was Sue's killer, and that Identity Crisis would end with him becoming the new Black Hand so that the Green Lantern identity would be freed up for the resurrected Hal Jordan to use.
  • Franchise Original Sin:
    • Many fans feel this story and its extremely dark tone permanently changed DC for the worse. Identity Crisis was a come-from-behind sensation at the time, and as a result, many of DC's other books took cues from it—in particular, its success meant it was now "okay" for superhero comics to depict sex and violence in more graphic ways. The trend ultimately led to much more unanimously hated stories like Amazons Attack, Countdown to Final Crisis, and Justice League: Cry for Justice, before DC had to reboot their entire comics universe because things had gotten so bad.
    • The core concept of the book, using mind control to force people to forget about heroes' secret identities, had been part of comics for decades prior. Fans complained about how this series ruined Zatanna, but never seemed to remember that Zatanna really did mindwipe people in the '70s.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • All those stories from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s in which the heroes use super-hypnosis and magic rings and so on to alter the villains' minds or remove knowledge of their secret identities from others read very differently given the revelations of this series. So does Doctor Light's time as an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain.
    • Justice League of America volume 1, #122 gets hit especially hard: it's a story that explains how the Leaguers decided to reveal their identities to one another, after Doctor Light uses "Amnesium" to scramble their knowledge of their alter egos, learn their secrets, and nearly kill them all. In the end, Light is mindwiped with the Amnesium to remove his ill-gotten knowledge. The story's title? "The Great Identity Crisis."
    • An earlier event, the more nostalgic Silver Age series of "skip week" specials, also has a group of villains learning the Justice Leaguers' secrets... and in the end, Hawkman uses some Thanagarian technology to remove this knowledge from their minds, with the sanction of Superman and Batman. The whole thing is played as a Reset Button style happy ending. The Silver Age: Justice League chapter also contains a scene in which Doctor Light rejects Catwoman's advances, stating that he "has always been more interested in test tubes and Bunsen burners than the fairer sex."
    • The whole reveal that Dr. Light raped Sue, given that Jeremy Piven, who voiced the Elongated Man in Justice League Unlimited, has been accused of sexual assault. Likewise, Green Arrow's involvement in this mind wipe after he was voiced by Chris Hardwick on The Batman, given Chloe Dykstra published an essay that inferred that Hardwick was abusive to her, including sexual abuse.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Rags Morales admitted to based Elongated Man on Danny Kaye. Granted, he was already on hand to replace Miguel Ferrer as Vandal Savage, but Young Justice did cast a man with a similar name as Ralph.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Crossed when they used Zatanna to alter Dr. Light's personality, which led to them using Zatanna to wipe Batman's memory. Even Ralph is shocked to learn of it, of all people.
    • Not to mention Dr. Light and the whole, y'know, raping Sue Dibny thing.
    • Or when Jean Loring killed Sue.
  • Narm: In issue two, Ray Palmer gives his wife a weapon to defend herself. The silly thing, however, is the fact that the weapon he gives her is an antique crossbow as opposed to something more practical like a pistol or laser.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Deathstroke, and HOW.
    • A quieter one: Sue's funeral is the last physical appearance of Jack Knight (he's next to Stargirl).
  • Overshadowed by Controversy: Even people that haven't read it know it as "that superhero comic with an explicit rape scene."
  • Shocking Swerve: Jean Loring being the murderer when pretty much all of the evidence beforehand suggested somebody else. Rather impossible in some degrees, since there is a panel where someone else's hands tie the knot on which she fakes her own hanging, which is dropped when the murderer is revealed.
  • The Woobie: Several, particularly Elongated Man and Robin.


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