SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Heroes in Crisis #3 by Tom King, Lee Weeks, Clay Mann, Tomeu Morey and Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
Heroes in Crisis opened with the dark discovery that several heroes had been murdered at the metahuman haven known as Sanctuary. Among those killed was the original Wally West, aka Flash, who had only recently returned to DC Comics continuity. The first issue of the series strongly implied who the killer might be, but stopped short of confirming it.
The battle between Booster Gold and Harley Quinn that issue not-so-subtly hinted that one of them was responsible, while Issue #2 went a little further towards implicating Harley. Tom King, Lee Weeks and Clay Mann's Heroes in Crisis #3 at first pass largely cements that notion, but there remains a sense of uncertainty by way of the revelation's obviousness. Harley appears to be the killer, yes – but can it really be that simple?
Harley Killed Wally – Right?
Issue #3 shows the unfolding of the emergency at Sanctuary – presumably the attack which led to the killings. Wally races out of the building, and is next seen on the front steps of Sanctuary cradling the body of Roy Harper, aka Arsenal. Without warning, Wally is clocked from behind, and the next panel shows Harley, armed with her blood-soaked mallet, standing behind him.
Whether she killed anyone else is uncertain, but it's pretty clear that she just ambushed and murdered the Flash.
Despite all appearances, though, Harley doesn't think she did. She's blamed not just Wally's murder, but also the other heroes', on Booster Gold multiple times. She accused him face-to-face in issue #1, and told Wonder Woman the same thing last issue. And the unstable Booster hasn't been able to convince himself that he didn't do it.
Yes, Harley Killed Wally, But …
Despite being caught red-hammered, though, there still seems to be more to the murders, or at least Wally's, than Harley simply attacking him from behind. Heroes in Crisis has been set up and structured like a murder mystery, and as such it's unlikely that the culprit would be revealed only one third of the way into the story. And while King's script to date has put Harley up front on the list of suspects, it's also dropped clues pointing to other possible murderers.
Harley historically hasn't been the most emotionally stable character in the DC Universe, either. Traditionally, she's been a villain, at worst, and an anti-hero, at best. That alone makes her a likely suspect, but cold-blooded murder, without a motive, exceeds her typical level of villainy. Her emotional state might have led her to kill Wally, but insanity seems like a rather weak twist for a superhero murder mystery.
Of course, there are other emotional forces that could have led Harley, and perhaps others, to commit these horrendous crimes.
Those Masks Look Awfully Familiar
And then there are those creepy, gold facemasks. The intended use of these masks is revealed as Booster Gold goes through his orientation at Sanctuary, and it's fairly benign. The masks and robes are intended to protect the identity of those who seek anonymity within Sanctuary's walls, but their use is purely optional. But why do the masks so closely resemble that of one particular DC supervillain?
That villain, of course, is the emotionally manipulative Psycho Pirate. With his mask, he's been shown to influence the emotions of others. King, in fact, has used Psycho Pirate prominently in his current Batman run. And the mask itself played a key role in King and Joshua Williamson's Batman/Flash arc "The Button." In that storyline, the mask reacted in proximity to The Comedian's infamous smiley face button, ushering in the ongoing events currently seen in Doomsday Clock.
King has been known to resurrect elements from past storylines, so a possible connection to Psycho Pirate is hard to ignore. Especially when considering the possibility that these masks so freely worn by Sanctuary's residents could be altering the emotions of others there. So, Harley may have murdered Wally, but she could have been unknowingly coerced, or even mind-controlled. The masks would also support a theory of multiple killers, if others within Sanctuary were also manipulated.
And, Booster Gold's emotional state has been a little whack lately, so maybe Psycho Pirate's already been involved.
Heroes in Crisis #4 goes on sale January 2, 2019.