In 2005, author Brad Meltzer began publishing Identity Crisis at DC Comics. Unlike other Crisis events from the publisher, Identity Crisis wasn’t some universe-threatening event. Instead, Identity Crisis revolves around a murder mystery following the death of Sue Dibney, wife of Elongated Man.
The story itself has proven to be rather divisive among fans, with those who praise it citing the story’s grounded, gritty, and personal take on the murder, while those who hate it typically cite the darker elements and tropes within the story. Regardless of the quality of Identity Crisis, it still had a major impact on DC characters and the universe as a whole. To acknowledge some of the more important changes, here is our list of 10 reasons why Identity Crisis is one of DC’s most important events.
10 It Was A Murder Mystery
As mentioned previously, Identity Crisis distinguished itself from other major DC Crisis events by being a grounded, murder mystery. After the wife of Elongated Man is found murdered, the Justice League is thrown into turmoil as they try to find the killer. Dark secrets are uncovered and betrayals are made the further the league gets into the mystery.
Yet, with all of that, Identity Crisis still made a very big impact on the DC Universeas a whole. Characters were greatly affected in varying degrees, and these changes echoed well beyond the story itself. With mystery novelist Brad Meltzer at the helm of the story, Identity Crisis was practically guaranteed to be full of many shocking twists and turns.
9 The Attack Was Very Personal
Many people may not have even heard of Sue Dibny, or even Elongated Man. Though the couple hadn’t been relevant for some time in DC Comics, Sue’s murder still felt very tragic. Even if readers aren’t attached to these characters, Identity Crisis effectively makes audiences feel sorry for the loss of someone considered to be a member of the league. Furthermore, there had never been an attack against a league member of this scale and precision before, making the need to solve the mystery all the more important.
8 It Relied On A Wide, Yet Grounded Cast
While the attack may have been very personal, it still affected a very wide group of characters, giving Identity Crisis an incredibly large cast. However, the cast is still limited to Earth as well. Unlike most Crisis events from DC that involve the multiverse, alternate versions of characters, and/or cosmic beings, Identity Crisis follows a large group of earth heroes.
People from Batman to Superman, to Green Arrow, to Deathstroke are all players as the mystery unravels. Considering how it still has a very sizable cast, Identity Crisis does a great job of making most characters feel as though they belong in the story without making the book seem overcrowded. Furthermore, it is interesting to see how a crisis of a smaller scale would still greatly affect the DC Universe going forward.
7 It Utilized A Lot Of Unknown Characters
In working with a very large cast, a lot of smaller, more unknown characters are given the chance to shine. Of course the story utilizes both Dibnys, but characters like Atom, Doctor Light, Mister Miracle, Captain Boomerang, and Zatanna also play fairly big roles. Likewise, groups such as the Justice Society of America and the Teen Titans are also involved, which means that the story alone encompasses an incredibly large group of heroes. Seeing these smaller characters have moments to shine is always a welcome experience and helped make for some even more personal moments in Identity Crisis.
6 It Brought Up A Lot Of DC History
Brad Meltzer certainly did his research before tackling some of DC’s biggest names. While he was criticized for writing characters out of their typical portrayals, there’s no denying that Meltzer knows some obscure DC history. For starters, he was able to provide an extensive understanding of Elongated Man’s backstory, which was of course needed for the main story for Identity Crisis. Meltzer also recognized a lot of Ray Palmer’s (the Atom) personal background.
Lastly, Meltzer tweaked Doctor Light’s history to fit with the story, making one of the weaker villains of DC into a major force to be reckoned with. Granted, he may have missed the mark in characterizing other popular heroes, but there’s no denying that Meltzer certainly knows his DC history.
5 The Betrayals Were Great
Part of what made Identity Crisis so shocking was in the reveal that some major members of the Justice League had betrayed other members. For example, it is revealed that Zatanna wiped Batman’s memory after he walked in on her and some other members in direct violation of Justice League code.
Furthermore, the fact that Leaguers were violating the code also served as a great betrayal. Overall, while these acts were shocking and changed some of DC history, they are also what many readers had issue with in the book.
4 It Asked A Lot Of Questions About Superheroes
Another hit or miss approach that Meltzer took to the book was in that it is very modern. To elaborate, Meltzer has DC’s biggest heroes deal with a lot of gray situations. The line between good and evil and right and wrong is definitely blurred throughout the course of Identity Crisis. However, while some complained about this, it also allowed Meltzer to take these characters into some newer territory. He uses Identity Crisis to ask certain questions about modern day superheroes and see how they would react when everything isn’t so black and white. While he may have missed the mark according to some, he still explored some unique ideas and took an intriguing approach to the DC Universe.
3 The Aftermath Echoed On Through Other Books
Like with any Crisis event, the repercussions echoed well into other DC books following the title’s conclusion. However, due to the personal nature of Identity Crisis, the book continued to hold a presence in DC Comics for what seemed like a longer time than usual.
Titles like Justice League, Batman, Teen Titans and more would continue to deal with the aftermath from the conclusion of Identity Crisis. In comparison to other Crisis events, it certainly makes sense that there would be a lot more lingering effects as a result of the finale.
2 The Younger Players Were More Involved
Though the Teen Titans have been involved in a fair number of Crisis events aside from Identity Crisis, they really take a step into the spotlight, especially with everything that happens to Tim Drake. As the series concludes, drastic changes are made to Tim’s life that echo through his future. Aside from Tim Drake though, the Teen Titans and other younger characters like Ravager are slightly more involved in the event than usual. Regardless of the views towards Identity Crisis, it is still nice to see the younger DC characters get some recognition in a major comic book event.
1 It Ended The Justice League
As a result of Identity Crisis, the Justice League was actually disbanded. Shortly after the event concluded, Meltzer relaunched the Justice League title with "The Tornado’s Path." This story revolved heavily around Red Tornado at a time when DC’s Trinity of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman were trying to reestablish the Justice League. This story also proved to be hit or miss with some fans, but successfully updated the tone and feel for the team going forward. Likewise, it shows just how great an impact Identity Crisis had on the League, as no other Crisis has led to the destruction of the entirety of the Justice League.