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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Comic Book Review: Identity Crisis

Identity Crisis
Writer: Brad Meltzer 
Artist: Rags Morales
Issues: 7
Published by DC Comics 

When the spouse of a Justice League member is brutally murdered, the superhero community was left in panic, fearing that their wives and relatives might be next. They hunt the one responsible for the murder, as long forgotten-secrets re-surface, threatening to separate team and cause rifts to their friendship. What started as a big manhunt has now become a battle from amongst them. 

DC's controversial 2004 miniseries tells the story of the greatest human tragedy of them all . Battling through pain, despair, and most importantly, doubt - these superheroes find out that they're still not as close as a group as they thought they were, as they search for the person responsible for the wicked assassinations. Finding themselves collectively afraid and in panic, they must do whatever it takes and even at some point - bend their view of what is right and wrong - to bring about the justice that they are looking for.

This is what sets DC stories apart from its contemporaries. They target the deepest of human emotions and make the readers relate to the story, which is a testament to the writer's writing skills. Brad Meltzer did what I think no writer has done before - that is to test the Justice League and each hero's moral code to the absolute limits. No more "black and white" cliches.

Artistically, it expresses and tells the story just as much as the dialogues. Its not as pretty or as modern as the art that we see today, its kinda bit old school actually, but it perfectly fits. Morales did a good job in relaying the mystery and drama of Meltzer's writing,  with his own melodramatic narrative illustration making it even more compelling. 

Such is this panel, where Batman and Robin race off to save Mr. Drake (Robin's dad):

See FEAR looking straight at you, Batman?
They say that Batman is the embodiment of fear, but the look on his face shows that after all the bravado , the mystique lying underneath the costume - he is just a human after all.  Probably the most haunting panel I have seen in a long time. You don't get to see him looking so scared like this.

Such as the other Leaguers like Superman, The Flash, Green Arrow, Hawkeye, etc, they are all engulfed by their own fears and there is nothing that they can do about it. Not even their powers can stop the natural human impulse to feel fear and hopelessness - and yes, even the  bullet-proof Kryptonian  can do nothing about it. All they can do is wish that their wives, fathers, mothers, or friends are safe - but in this story, nobody is safe.. not until the last page.  

Maybe Green Arrow put it better than anybody else when he said:

"Bulletproof skin is no match for grief." 

... and it is.

You can guess and guess on who the culprit is, but at the end of the last issue, I'm sure even you will be surprised when all the smoke has cleared. Its a total shocker. It is nothing like any superhero story you have ever read.  This is one graphic novel that you shouldn't miss. Haunting and immensely full of suspense till the last page, Identity Crisis would surely give you a whole new meaning to the word "superhero". 

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