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Identity Crisis by Brad Meltzer
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Identity Crisis (2005)

by Brad Meltzer, Michael Bair (Illustrator), Rags Morales (Illustrator)

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The plot of Identity Crisis is that Sue Dibny, the Elongated Man's wife, is murdered. Pretty much every DC hero then tries to solve the mystery of her murder, which generally involves questioning every DC villain.

Like any mystery, it's full of twists and turns, shocking revelations that make little sense, and a great deal of past dirt is dug up. In particular, it becomes clear that a subset of JLA members have been secretly doing something the rest of the JLA would not approve of. This revelation applies retroactively, reframing tons of past events in the DC universe. Really, that's the name of the game here, lots of stuff keeps getting dug up and retcons all kinds of stuff in DC, generally by infusing it with darkness and sex.

The idea is interesting if a little over the top in it's "make everything dark and gritty!" approach. But it's a good mystery, with some kind of crazed attacker figuring out the family members of hereos and attacking them in their homes, stakes raising, and lots of sweeping character arcs. All in all, it's decent and engaging.

Now, I have to mention, the way women are treated in this miniseries is appalling. The entire thing is, obviously, a Women in the Fridge trope but the book goes way beyond it. Women are raped, and constantly discussed in terms of men protecting them. The main problem, as worded by a character in the book is that "people are attacking our wives!". Really? Not just "spouses"? No female heroes are worried about their husbands being attacked, it's all men. This kind of thing is surprising from a company that produces an icon of feminism, Wonder Woman. In fact, the Amazonian's role is embarrassing. She appears on the cover of one of the issues, but when she actually shows up she has exactly one line, spoken with her out of frame, and after Oliver Queen's narrator comments on her "rack". The other female heroes offer occasional, half-hearted "I can take care of myself" protestation, but pretty much every woman is pathetic, weak, frail, and in need of a man's protection. Even fearless star reporter Lois Lane becomes a frightened little girl and asks Superman to stay home and protect her. This treatment of women continues through the entire book, culminating in the last issue with the grand finale of misogyny in a twist that I won't spoil. I know this kind of commentary comes off as super-sensitive, but I found myself constantly distracted by how crapped-on women were in this book, it was extremely off-putting. ( )
  rodhilton | Nov 14, 2014 |
IDENTITY CRISIS is a book that I read simply because I got sick of running into spoilers while attempting to read about it on the Internet. Now that I've read it, I see why there's so much spoilerific content out there - it's a work that's difficult to talk about without giving away significant chunks of the plot. Suffice to say, then, that this is a graphic novel in which a minor, but not unknown, character in the DC Universe loses their life in the first chapter. This is an event that should not have much emotional heft to it, but the creators of said graphic novel do such a wonderful and efficient job of making you emotionally invested in said character that it indeed does. The remainder of the story concerns the unraveling of the mystery behind said character's death, and this is also played out with great skill. The only major caveat I would give to the prospective reader is that this work may be a little too "inside-baseball" for someone who is new to the DC Universe - I have been reading DC comics on and off for more than 40 years and there are a lot of references that I just didn't get.

A final note: one of the most enjoyable aspects of this edition are the many extras (creator commentaries and the like) in the back of the book. If you (like me) are as fascinated by the creative process that goes into a work like this as you are the work itself, make sure you don't skip this part. ( )
  artturnerjr | Apr 8, 2014 |
A chilling and beautifully drawn story that takes on the hardest part of being a superhero: dealing with loved ones killed because of who you are. It's a drama, a play, and a murder mystery all rolled into one that really draws out the emotional reality of superheros. I was a little lost as to who was who in the beginning because I'm not very familiar with DC Comics, but I figured most of it out as I progressed through the story. While I felt this story had great impact, lovers of DC Comics will really find their heartstrings ripped out. ( )
1 vote Starsister12 | Dec 27, 2013 |
This isn't as action-packed as a lot of these "Crisis" events DC puts out. More of a mystery, which was fine with me. ( )
  ptdilloway | Nov 21, 2013 |
I've not read a lot of books from DC, so I don't have much comparison to make to other Justice League story-lines. I'll just say that Identity Crisis reminds me of themes and plot points of The Watchmen. I think The Watchmen comes together more cleanly and has tighter dialogue and framing, but then again, Moore and Gibbons had a fresh set of characters to shape, whereas this book has to deal with decades of previous works about these characters and future ramifications of any major events for the DC Multiverse. Upon first reading (and without knowing what happens before or after this series), I can't help but say that The Watchmen is a better exploration of the effect that wearing "the mask" has on individuals and their families and of the ethical questions of wielding nearly limitless power. ( )
1 vote Brian.Gunderson | Sep 24, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Brad Meltzerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bair, MichaelIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Morales, RagsIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Whedon, JossIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
For Ben Rubin, my Poppy, who used to make up the best Batman stories just because he knew I loved hearing them. -Brad Meltzer
Dedicated to Ralph, Flerida and Lisa. To Kyra, Lorraine, Devon, Isabel and Gwendolen. For friends, and a family's love and support; in the end that is what this story is about. And to the naysayers because this book speaks of perseverance as well. Dad, chapter five is for us. I love you all. -Rags Morales
First words
Opal City. Thirty minutes to now. Ralph Dibny and Lorrainne Reilly. Co-workers.
Quotations
She doesn't get annoyed often...But when she does, it reminds me of one thing...there are some things more potent than Kryptonite.
People aren't stupid, Wally. They believe what they want to believe. And hear what they want to hear.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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When the wife of superhero Elongated Man is murdered in her own home, superheroes join forces to scour the country for clues and suspects, while five champions stay behind to protect a secret that could change the world forever.

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