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Op-Ed: In Defense of Identity Crisis


THE NEW 52 is a creatively barren wasteland full of shadows of shadows of once beloved characters being forced through a grinder like so much unwanted cattle meat until a homogenized paste of a narrative is squeezed through a tube and into tights and re-introduced in an all NU interpretation month after month after month of something I used to care about so much I got it tattooed into my skin, but now holds such little resemblance to its original content that I have abandoned it entirely.

FINAL CRISIS was a madman’s attempt to use his insane chaos magiks to bring the DCU into reality using a variety of pagan methods that may or may not have worked during The Invisibles depending on who you ask, because the universe had gotten so dark that the only way to fix it was to bring in an eldritch god in the form of a man named Grant Morrison to sacrifice sanity in the hope of order.

INFINITE CRISIS was exactly what drove the DCU into such a dark place. The grind of monthly comics flanderized characters until all subtlety was gone, and resulted in a universe full of sociopaths with no rhyme or reason to any of their actions. And the most unbelievable part of infinite crisis is that it took a character that was once used to symbolize the purity of comic fans during CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS and twisted him into a screaming reality punching baby just to trigger it all. He was unhappy with the heroes, see, and he hated what he saw and demanded it to be fixed.

He was Superboy Prime.

And somehow he was supposed to be us comics fans.

IDENTITY CRISIS is probably where this all started. You could make a pretty solid argument that it really started in the 90’s and then subsided before coming back again, but really the “Dark” state of the DCU was because a pretty good story by a pretty decent writer and an incredible artist that attempted to treat characters like more realistic people turned into a best seller, to the point where they had something like 3 or 4 printings of the damn things, and to try and capture that genie in a bottle, the Powers That Be mistook “complex” for “violent, misogynistic, and dark”.

And best selling.

But it’s not Identity Crisis’ fault. The trigger for a bad trend is not responsible for the trend. Identity Crisis is not about Rape, Mind Wipe, and Murder. Those are things that happen in the book, they are not what the book is about. Identity Crisis is fundamentally about strain. The strain of being a superhero and always trying to do the right thing. The strain of sacrificing so much of yourself only to lose it all. The strain of being in a relationship with a person who is dedicated to that sacrifice. Ultimately its about the strain of maintaining your morality in the face of situations that directly challenge it.

That strain is completely absent from the silver age. It was all about heroes being strong, always doing the right thing, and ultimately succeeding. The Joker went to jail at the end of every issue. Batman always won, until the fans voted to kill Jason Todd. The stories were goofy, the colors were bright. It was fine, for the silver age.

What Identity Crisis did was take the rose colored glasses off of the silver age events and showed that the heroes weren’t always perfect. They tried their best, but sometimes they failed. Even when they succeeded.

In the new 52 none of that even exists. No one is married, so no relationships are strained. No one ever really sacrifices anything since they’re stuck in origin mode since the reboot, no one even really gets morally challenged. I mean John Constantine is an anti hero now. I could go on for hours about why that’s wrong on every possible level. No one has any familial connections, just ask Barry Allen about his nephew. It’s boring because it’s safe and unoriginal. It goes beyond fantasy to pure escapism. Its old men packaging their wasted lives into dream versions of what they could have been through the heroes they read about when they were kids, and selling that package to new kids.


Identity Crisis isn’t perfect and that’s why I love it.