Sticking the landing of a finale is tough, especially when it involved massively popular characters. No matter how things wrap up, there will always be a certain level of divisiveness among fans. Once certain readers get invested in the characters and the scenario. But since it’s impossible for a passive piece of fiction to adhere to every reader’s individual expectation, most ending are met with some level of disappointment. But what if the third act twist is the disappointment? Can a book save itself with a tight ending to win back those who felt betrayed? Heroes in Crisis #9 gets pretty close to answering that question.
The revelation of Wally West being the Sanctuary Killer was... well, controversial, to say the least. While it’s a pretty solid twist in a “whodunit” murder mystery starring superheroes, some fans were not too pleased with the Wally’s actions, and it’s hard to blame them, especially after being strung along by issues that are equal parts engaging and plodding. Heroes in Crisis #9 does a fairly good job of tying things up, while leaving the possibilities of where we go from here wide open. In fact, this issue pretty much begins with a character recapping the events of the previous eight in about a half-dozen word balloons. This moment makes a lot of the series feel reductive, but this might be by design.
Regardless of the slow burn intent the creative team had with this book, it never really worked as well as some other high profile miniseries they’ve worked on before. This isn’t Mister Miracle or The Omega Men. The story of Heroes in Crisis has always too big and built with too many moving pieces to make it ever feel truly personal. Yes, there are tons of confessionals and heartfelt Wally West soliloquies, but too often these moments approach the precipice of being out of character.
If you view these heroes through the lens of them being people with day to day lives, first and foremost, the pathos on the page works incredibly well. However, from the perspective of their costumed alter egos, the confessional moments can feel somewhat out of place. Succumbing to personal demons, doing terrible things because of them, or even just acknowledging they’re there isn’t always a good look for superheroes. If nothing else, it can make them less enticing figures to aspire to. Now, there is a relatability there to be sure. There’s are panels in which various heroes who have donned the mantle of Robin talk about their fellow sidekicks like they’re the Beetles. They reference one Robin as being the “cute one” and one being “the fun one” while the hero delivering the confessional isn’t sure which “one” he is. Moments like this are wonderful and make stoic heroes far more relatable. It’s the broader strokes in the story which might push people away.
So how does Heroes in Crisis #9 function as an ending? Pretty well, actually. If you can get over the initial shock of Wally’s actions and roll with how that revelation effects the rest of the cast, this issue does a pretty good job of wrapping things up on Sanctuary and how the crime committed there is viewed. This issue in a vacuum is rather strong. Tom King’s script it smart (albeit a bit too kitschy for its own good in the jokes department), and Clay Mann’s artwork is simply gorgeous (as it always is). From a production standpoint, this is a handsome issue all around.
Most readers are going to drop their critiques of what came before when reading Heroes in Crisis #9, which is only natural. Endings need context. And if that context isn’t your preference, it’s going to be tough for the creators to give you want you want. Heroes in Crisis #9 sticks to its guns. If nothing else, this series has been pretty consistent in its quality, pace and content, but if these three parameters were ever irksome to you, the finale will be no different. Ultimately, this has been a story of mental health, trust, and the possibility of redemption for past transgressions, and on that level, it's fantastic.