Friday, September 3, 2010

Identity Crisis

Title: Identity Crisis
Writer: Brad Meltzer
Artists: Rags Morales and Michael Bair
Publisher: DC Comics
Boy, have comic books gotten real mature since I was a kid.  I must confess, I haven’t read many comics in my life.  I mean as a kid I did like to buy them as much as any other kid, and in high school I only read a few here and there.  But I never stayed with the scene.  The problem for me always was that I didn’t like the dreaded ‘to be continued’ at the end of a comic.  I felt almost cheated knowing that what I paid for didn’t have an ending.  Of course all of this changed when a comic book store worker recommend that I should read graphic novels, after I told him my “to be continued” issue.  He told me that graphic novels basically are a collection of comic books that do have an ending.  Ever since then I have loved to read graphic novels.  However what I didn’t expect to find in these novels was issues dealing with adult subjects.  The graphic novel, Identity Crisis is a perfectly good example of what I’m talking about.  It starts off with Elongated Man and Firehawk doing some surveillance on some would-be criminals.  Firehawk then starts asking Elongated Man how he met his wife.  He tells her the story of how they met, and why he loves her so much.
Suddenly the would-be criminals start to move and as Elongated Man expands to see, he hears the voice of his wife calling for help.  He then rushes home to her, but by the time he gets there it is too late because someone has killed her.  At her funeral almost every superhero shows up to the service.  After the funeral they all decide to split into groups and investigate the murder.  However Elongated Man and a few more superheroes stay behind because they want to go after the man they think is the real murderer, Dr. Light.  The Flash who is there then asks why they think it is him.  What follows is the story of when Dr. Light raped Elongated Man’s wife, and as a result the superheroes chose to punish him by erasing some of his mind.
The Flash becomes angry with the group because they did this, but the Green Arrow defends their actions.  Eventually the mystery of who killed Elongated Man’s wife is solved, but more importantly the Green Arrows explains his reasoning behind the decision to erase some of Dr. Lights mind.  According to him, guys like Superman and Batman get to be the big-shots when the villains are caught and they get to leave.  However for guys like the Green Arrow they have to stay behind and deal with the clean up.  In a previous story a captured villain knew their real identities, and so the “clean-up” heroes had no choice but to prevent him from ever sharing that information with other villains by erasing his memory.  According to the Green Arrow this was because it would have placed their loved ones in jeopardy.
Because of moral issues such as this one and other issues that come up during this novel, I really liked this book.  They demonstrate how comics are no longer simple stories of good vs. evil, but can really intrigue the reader and make them question a lot of things.  While issues dealing with murder and rape can be troublesome to read, it does bring a little bit off reality into comics which keeps you focused on the story.  Although the story is sad to read, I did like the ending because it was emotionally sweet and   I would recommend it to anyone that wants to read a good graphic novel.
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