Review: Heroes in Crisis: The Price and Other Stories hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

I hope you won't be surprised to hear it, but books like Heroes in Crisis: The Price and Other Stories make me eager for Joshua Williamson's non-Flash work — particularly, since there's something of a lead-in here, his forthcoming Batman/Superman series. Though Williamson's Flash consistently rubs me the wrong way (see, recently, his Flash Vol. 10: Force Quest), when dealing with the Flash in partnership with other heroes (and perhaps specifically Batman), I'm frequently pleased.

The Price is really just a collection of side-stories, poking (as these kinds of things do) at the edges of the Heroes in Crisis event without really affecting it in any way. And really, knowing the outcome of Heroes in Crisis, much of this book is just prologue to the real fallout, which might've been collected in this book but will end up I'm not really sure where. But again, it's enjoyable, and Williamson comports himself well — as do, by the way, Julie and Shawna Benson and Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing, respectively, on the Green Arrow stories included here. I reviewed the Bensons' contribution in Green Arrow Vol. 7: Citizen's Arrest and I'll look at Kelly and Lanzing's in Green Arrow Vol. 8, so most of my attention here will be on "The Price" proper.

[Review contains spoilers]

When all is said and done with Tom King's Batman and we know which character masterminded what and how things like the Batman/Flash: The Button crossover and Doomsday Clock fit in, it'll be interesting to reconsider Williamson's role in all of this. As regards The Button, it seemed early on that the crossover — from which King stepped back to let Williamson write the majority — mostly had implications for the Flash title, with whatever fallout from Batman meeting his Flashpoint father Thomas Wayne going unmentioned once King returned. But all of that changed about a year later when Thomas Wayne appeared behind Bane in Batman #50, and as of Batman Vol. 10: Knightmares, it's even unclear whether it's Bane or Thomas who's in charge. As such, what seemed a simple bit of guest writing by Williamson now seems perhaps to have been a key turning point in King's overall story.

Whether the same will turn out to be true for "The Price" remains to be seen, of course. The topic du jour, somewhat unconnected to Heroes in Crisis really, is Gotham Girl, the character who kicked off King's Batman run but then has been largely absent for a while — at least until she reappeared as part of Bane's crew. A variety of questions abound, including whether Bane controlled Gotham Girl (and her brother, Gotham) from the start, and all of this (Batman's early-Rebirth near-death experience on through) has been Bane's design, or if Bane just recruited Gotham Girl later. "The Price" answers none of this — Williamson's hands seem so tied here that he can't even show Bane in full, despite that cat being well since out of the bag — but I appreciate the confirmation that seemingly forgotten elements of King's run still simmer just under the surface. (One also wonders if Bane intended for Batman to ultimately imprison Gotham Girl in the Batcave just as he did.)

The other side of "Price" is Batman and Flash Barry Allen's despair over the apparent death of Wally West in Heroes in Crisis (plus Nightwing Dick Grayson's recent trauma), and Flash blaming Batman for the trouble at Sanctuary. The story ends with Batman and Flash still feuding and I'm reminded of the aftermath of Identity Crisis, with feelings tense over the mind-wiping, leading in to Infinite Crisis. This present story's culmination, seemingly either in "Year of the Villain" or its subsequent event, can only hope for the same reception as Infinite Crisis.

The irony, as you hopefully know by now, is that Wally West is the culprit at Sanctuary, and whatever blame Barry attributes to Batman for Sanctuary, all the more blame is his for not being there for his nephew (I still find it exceptionally notable that of all the heroes, Barry is one of very few to never seek refuge at Sanctuary himself). To me this is the more interesting part of the story — not Flash and Batman mourning someone that, given that most people will have read Heroes in Crisis before this companion volume, we already know isn't dead, but Barry having to deal with his sidekick being an accidental murderer. Not that I necessarily want Williamson to have more fodder for making Barry incessantly unhappy, but I hope this gets addressed in the Flash title eventually.

I did enjoy the Flash Annual collected here, demonstrating again the highs and lows of the Rebirth Flash era. The story has going for it Godspeed, Barry's "frenemy" and one of Williamson's better creations in his run; also New Super-Man's Avery, long-time Flash artist Scott Kolins, and Kolins drawing Impulse Bart Allen. Godspeed's sporting a gauntlet that's ... well, it's blue, so I'm thinking maybe it's John Fox's? I believe all that's related to Williamson's "Crisis" villain from Flash Vol. 8: Flash War, though whether this "Crisis" is tied to crises mentioned in Scott Snyder's Justice League or Brian Michael Bendis' Young Justice ... clearly there's some things still to work out.

Again, the Benson's Green Arrow #45 is also good, the funeral of Arsenal Roy Harper, though it remains problematic that Gnarrk, also having died at Sanctuary, is in the background. Kelly and Lanzing's Green Arrow #48-50, what turned out apparently unexpectedly to be the end of their run, is superb, a testament to the growth of these writers at DC. Artist Javier Fernandez does exceptionally well with a two-part twisty-turn-y Count Vertigo story, which the writers ultimately imbue with a lot of heart. The finale not only makes good use of Black Canary's (New 52) spy roots, but also returns Oliver Queen to a kind of grassroots Mike Grell kind of status that would have been fun to see play out further (though, I'd bet, the future of DC's Green Arrow is female).

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Heroes in Crisis: The Price and Other Stories

In all, Heroes in Crisis: The Price and Other Stories is the kind of book I like, a demonstration of the connective tissue of the DC Universe. Also, just one companion book is a nice change, as opposed to umpteen volumes we've seen with other events. No sour notes in this one; I'm just curious to see the Heroes in Crisis aftermath stories, not just the ones that take place during.

[Includes original and variant covers]

Review Date
Reviewed Item
Heroes in Crisis: The Price and Other Stories
Author Rating
4 (scale of 1 to 5)


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