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REVIEW: The Sanctuary Killer Revealed in Heroes in Crisis #8

Story by
Art by
Mitch Gerads, Travis Moore
Colors by
Mitch Gerads
Letters by
Clayton Cowles
Cover by
Publisher
DC Comics

Warning: The following review contains spoilers for Heroes in Crisis #8 by Tom King, Mitch Gerads, Travis Moore, and Clayton Cowles. 

Heroes in Crisis has been one of the more deliberately paced miniseries with the word "Crisis" in the title that DC Comics has ever published. The slow reveal of the true nature behind The Sanctuary, how the massacre there unfolded, and who was truly behind it have been doled out in small morsels throughout the series' run. Now, with  Wally West recounting what truly occurred in the pages of Heroes in Crisis #8, the mystery has fully unfurled. The damage has been done, and lives have been lost -- but how will the larger DC Pantheon view one of their own?

RELATED: Heroes in Crisis: DC Just Rewrote the Murder of Wally West

Despite having some of the best creators crafting it, Heroes in Crisis has felt like a bit of a mixed bag. So much of the mystery within the story felt secondary to the idea of a gaggle of heroes working out their problems through acts of violence and self-deprecation. This, of course, can make for some amazing storytelling, but it detracted from the whodunit vibe the series initially promised. To be fair, it really is a case of putting reader expectations ahead of the artists' intent, which is a precarious position to be in. When fans invent their own narrative or have expectation about how a certain work of fiction is supposed to unfold, they often find themselves feeling underwhelmed or letdown.

We still have one more issue ahead of us, but Heroes in Crisis #8 does feel a bit like a finale. The issue is a big Scooby Doo-esque reveal (and he would have gotten away with it if it weren't for you pesky capes!). How hard the hand-fed details of the tragedy at The Sanctuary will hit you all depends on how much you're willing to buy into Wally West's weird logic and motivation. But with Booster Gold and Harely Quinn having spent the majority of this series as tortured red herrings, getting the full confessional out in the open does feel a bit cathartic, which speaks to creative teams' collective talent.

Breaking the mystique of superheroism is comic book trope that began gaining traction in the '80s, with titles like Miracleman, The Dark Knight Returns, and WatchmenHeroes in Crisis continues this trend, but its existence in DC's main comics continuity can sometimes feel like a disservice to some of the characters. In fact, it might be hard for a lot of fans to look at Wally West the same way ever again. Sure, plenty readers will be open to the sudden shift in characterization of the speedster, but not everyone will share their enthusiasm. This issue (if not the entire miniseries) will most likely be debated across the comicsphere for quite some time, which is something that should be healthy, but has already devolved into online vitriol in the darker recesses of social media, as seen by the various death threats that have been tweeted at writer Tom King since the issue's release. No matter what side of this reveal you come down on, it's impossible to argue King's moxie for swinging for the fences.

RELATED: How Heroes in Crisis May Lead to Doomsday Clock's DC Universe

Mitch Gerads and Travis Moore share the art duties once again, delivering well-constructed splash pages and nine panel grid confessionals. The various artists who have worked on Heroes in Crisis have all done solid work, but Gerads might be the contributor who continues to shine the brightest. Watching his style grow and develop over his career is an absolute treat (there's a reason he won the Eisner last year), and his work in Heroes in Crisis #8 is fantastic. The art is reserved when it needs to be and experimental when certain story beats demand it to be.

Overall, Heroes in Crisis #8 is a gorgeous book with a heartbreaking and well-executed story. Your mileage will vary in terms of reconciling how things actually occurred at The Sanctuary. The biggest factor would be how invested you are in Wally West and if you can accept the entire notion of The Sanctuary in the first place. But for readers who like to see familiar characters pushed way outside of their comfort zone, this issue is a winner.

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