WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for Heroes In Crisis #1 by Tom King, Clay Mann, Tomeu Morey and Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
The first issue of DC’s new event series Heroes In Crisis has arrived with the superhero crisis center named Sanctuary turned into a crime scene after someone murdered the institution’s superhero patients. As fans read through the issue, they will find the deaths grouped into two categories: the ancillary characters and the A-listers.
There is the joke that you can’t have a DC “crisis” without a dead Flash, and Heroes In Crisis delivers on this with the death of Wally West and his Titans teammate Arsenal, with their murders delivering a shocking moment that will no doubt light up message boards around the Internet. However, we shouldn’t quickly dismiss the deaths of some of the C-level heroes in Heroes In Crisis, especially when one invokes imagery from a real-world event that changed the landscape of American history and its obsession with guns.
On February 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman during a physical altercation in Sanford, FL. Much of the coverage of the court case centered on Zimmerman, who was the head of the community’s neighborhood watch, believing Martin was a suspicious person based on his wearing of a dark gray hoodie over his head. In the United States, Black males are racially profiled for wearing hoodies, as the attire has been associated with thieves and “hoodlums,” which racists believe Black people to be.
After Martin’s death and Zimmerman’s acquittal, social media users changed their profiles to show themselves wearing hoodies as a sign of protest and solidarity, with the headgear now universally recognized as an homage to the late Martin. So with that in mind, Heroes In Crisis #1 curiously depicts the young Hot Spot, an African-American former member of the pre-New 52 Teen Titans, as one of the many casualties — while wearing a gray hoodie.
Hot Spot’s body is first shown laying with other dead heroes in a wheat field as Superman surveys the carnage from high in the sky. The group shot is a lot to take in, so the Hot Spot/Trayvon Martin imagery isn’t as apparent. However, that’s followed by a nine-panel grid (one of Tom King’s favorite visual layouts) by Clay Mann, Tomeu Morey and Clayton Cowles that features Hot Spot reciting his “I’m just warming up!” catchphrase, along with his fears of heading into a fight.
Finally, we get the zoomed in close-up of Hot Spot’s hooded face with a single tear flowing down his cheek and right eye wide open. This panel is very chilling when you consider this could very well be how Martin’s body was recovered on that rainy night in Florida — both young Black males gunned down when they had their entire lives ahead of them.
There is no way to know if King and Mann were trying to invoke the Trayvon Martin/Hot Spot comparison in Heroes In Crisis #1, but as we mentioned above, Black males in hoodies has now become synonymous with late Martin, for better or worse. The marketing leading up to Heroes In Crisis used the term “ripped from real-world headlines,” and there was no bigger headline in 2012 and 2013 than the George Zimmerman trial.
If DC wanted to add some weight to the Heroes In Crisis death toll and have it feel like a real-world event, then giving Hot Spot two full-pages of context while wearing that gray hoodie as Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman race to the scene certainly did the trick. The Flash and Arsenal’s deaths may garner more attention, but the murder of Hot Spot will be remembered as the one with the most visceral impact.
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