DC's Heroes in Crisis has been a stop-and-go ride. Reading the series is like being aboard the bus from Speed, only instead of trying to keep the vehicle from dipping below 55 miles per hour, we're traveling a reasonable speed through the most interesting town in the world, but taking the least-scenic route imaginable. We get glimpses of something amazing every few blocks, but before we can get too deep into the world of broken superheroes, we make that turn, and find ourselves someplace else. As things begin to wind down (sort of) in Heroes in Crisis #7, the overall experience has become the main selling point. That isn't to say this is a bad issue, or that it doesn't have its own narrative and thematic merits. It's just that it feels like another cog in a larger, more complex machine -- which, of course, is by design.
The creative team is doing fantastic work this issue, especially when it comes to the art. The lion's share of those duties in Heroes in Crisis #7 are split between Clay Mann and Travis Moore, with Jorge Fornes illustrating a handful of pages. Mann and Moore work in the same wheelhouse: While their styles are different, they're able to capture the tone of the comic and never sacrifice visual continuity. However, Fornes doesn't fare as well. His work is great, as usual, but it feels somewhat out of place. It's as if we're reading a different comic, which wouldn't be a bad thing if we weren't already invested in what's going on in this one.
As far as the story goes, Heroes in Crisis #7 is a placeholder issue. The revelations are not as earth-shattering as the ones that came before, yet they still carry weight, even if that's only to push the action further toward the finish line. With the truth behind The Sanctuary revealed, a nasty little brawl between Harley Quinn and Booster Gold ensues, and while the results of the fight are by no means surprising, they are immensely satisfying. The creative team behind Heroes in Crisis has been great at keeping the carrot a safe distance away from the reader, and this issue is no different. However, instead of having the reader focus on how delicious the carrot may be, Heroes in Crisis #7 asks us, why do you want that carrot so badly in the first place? Throughout the series, writer Tom King and a stable of brilliant artists have given fans introspective plotting devices that transcend the moments in which they occur.
From a serialized-narrative standpoint, telling a story in such a staccato, non-linear manner can be quite effective; readers love bread crumbs, no matter how much they may complain about them. When they close a comic and moan because they can't believe they have to wait another month to find out what will happen next doesn't mean they're necessarily deterred by the narrative. If anything, it's simply dug its hooks deeper. Well, in most cases. Sometimes the completionist part of fans' brains prevent them from walking away. King, Mann, Moore and Fornes have taken things up a notch by eliciting those groans mid-issue.
However, the time-hopping story device and inter-spliced confessionals sprinkled throughout each issue of Heroes in Crisis are often better consumed in huge gulps. With each new issue, fans may find themselves re-reading the two or three previous chapters. The first couple of times you catch yourself doing so, you might wonder whether the comic is simply over your head. But upon reflecting on some of King's other works, you'll realize something: He writes binge comics. That might be why limited-run series like Mister Miracle and The Vision work better in collected form. With this in mind, it makes it difficult to grade Heroes in Crisis #7 beyond its merits of craftsmanship, which it has in spades.