The story of who killed all the heroes is finally revealed, however, this revelation may annoy many old fans of DC Comics and make statement about a tier of characters that DC Comics has had problems managing since the 2000s. This kind of solution will have ripple effects beyond the comic page. But a solution it is. The killer has revealed the motivations for the murder. What will happen next?
It is very difficult for me to discuss this issue without spoiling the name of the killer. Thus, the first part of the review will deal with the generalities and my impressions with the comic overall. Next, I will jump in the discussion with spoiler. But let us start with the artwork as a neutral ground.
Mitch Gerads and Travis Moore supply the artwork for this issue with the former doing the brunt work with the murderer while the latter looks at the lives of the victims. There would be no conflict between the pages if the colouring matched better. Gerads uses his usual colouring palette that mimics digital effects. It appears that Gerads did the colouring for the full comic, but Moore’s pages are flatter and carry less energy in the colours department. Clay Mann set the tone but Gerads does not fully reproduce the aesthetics of the initiator of this comic. Mann’s characters have stronger cheekbones giving them a distinctive look that is missing with Gerads.
Now for the story. It took time for Tom King to reveal who was the culprit and only in hindsight does the entire story make sense. I will argue that issues 3-7 were affected by the lack of direction that I perceived. While the revelation this issue was intriguing, the pacing and meandering of the five previous issues only make sense after having consumed this one. This is a serious plotting problem.
And now, let’s spoil this issue.
This is a spoiler warning.
You can still turn around and avoid this spoiler.
Wally West as the murderer is at once satisfying and not. It is satisfying because it is interesting. I am willing to follow King on this road, but only if he does not magically clean his own mess and salvage Wally West later. But its not satisfying for two reasons. It is not satisfying because the clues given to readers were tangential and weak. If this is a detective story, there was little meat for readers to munch on and use to come to King’s conclusion this issue. Making Wally West a villain is a stretch. It also depicts mental health problems in a typical comic book way and thus fails on the premise of the series to explore mental health trauma maturely.
The real problem is what it does to all of the original sidekicks of the DC Comics universe. DC has for years added legacy characters and generations of replacements for its main characters. The problem started when they aged the original Robin and his Teen Titans pals forcing the hands of other creators to replace them with newer characters. How many sidekicks does Batman, Green Arrow, Aquaman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Flash have?
The problem with legacy characters is often that they are generational. Because they are allowed to age, unlike their mentors, they also need to be replaced. Thus generations of readers follow some of them and identify with them. Wally West, Nightwing, Tempest, Donna Troy, and Arsenal are the original kids that have aged and even starred in their own comics. Their reunion in the Titans series was meant to appeal to Generation X readers. There are so few readers from that generation and the series was problematic to such an extent, that it was cancelled and proved once again that the first generation of derivatives did not work.
The Green Lanterns have the same problems but have managed to carve a space for at least John Stewart and Guy Gardner. But Kyle Rayner is an ersatz Titans like Nightwing and Wally West. He took the role as the main Green Lantern for years and DC has since struggled to redefine him and carve a decent place for him, much like Wally West.
In the New 52, Wally West was stored away along with the Golden Age characters. But DC cannot help but play with its toys. So Wally West was back and made the major key into the next stage of Rebirth. But that story never went anywhere and thus DC is back with its old problem. What can it do with two adult Flashes? It’s not that Wally West is evil but he is now broken. Like Connor Kent DC seems to have a solution for him. But Connor Kent was brought back. At this rate, when will Connor Hawke return to comics?
So for now Arsenal is dead. Wally West is tainted as a villain and crazy. Connor Hawke was wiped from reality. The Infinitors, the cousins of the Titans and the ersatz sidekicks of the Justice Society are stacked away for good. Powergirl is probably the next one that DC will try to fix permanently. I would argue that Nightwing is also a problem but as long his comic sells…. With some of the recent shenanigans in his series, it’s possible that DC does not know what to do with him either. And don’t get me starred on all the Robins and Batgirls.
Wally West had the most development of all the legacy and sidekick characters. In Crisis in the Infinite Earths, he was the first sidekick to graduate and permanently replace his mentor for about 20 years. That was a feat. His personality has been grafted onto Barry Allen outside of comics since the latter was always boring and the same guy as Hal Jordan, Carter Hall, and Ray Palmer. Wally West’s use was to make Barry Allen relevant again by donating his personality to his mentor. Please don’t tell me that the Flashes played by Grant Gustin and Ezra Miller are the same Barry Allen we read in comics before 1984. They are Wally West in demeanour, in their passions, quirks, and goofiness.
A word of warning to all future comic creators; avoid creating legacy characters or revive them later.