This year marks the tenth anniversary of Identity Crisis, an anniversary that should mean something, but unfortunately doesn’t since this part of DC Comics history has been erased.
In June of 2004, DC comics seemed to have finally got the idea that their heroes needed to be taken down a notch. It’s hard to argue with this sentiment since DC does possess the who’s who of iconic characters. While they may have suffered defeat and death occasionally, DC characters have always seemed to triumph, but that was not the case in Identity Crisis. Brad Meltzer demonstrated true skill in crafting Identity Crisis; in one series of comics he was capable of bringing gods to their knees, revealing failures and weaknesses that nobody knew they had. He gives details that flesh out the characters; even Superman seems more human, and Batman becomes just a little likeable.
Identity Crisis is amazing visually; Rags Morales portrays each character with power and depth, or weakness and despair depending on the circumstances. There is a scene that has Ralph Dibny, a.k.a. the Elongated Man, losing control of his emotions, and his body mimics his emotions as it loses its form.
During the few action sequences in the book he doesn’t let us down, each character is an individual and each page is something to behold. The late Michael Turner did cover work on this series and really doesn’t disappoint, reminding us again that his passing was a huge loss for the industry.
For those that have never read Identity Crisis before, the main story is that Sue Dibny, the wife of Elongated Man, is murdered in her home. The super-hero community rallies in an attempt to solve her murder. During this investigation, many secrets are revealed, deep dark secrets that could shake the foundation of the DC Universe to the ground. Basically it turns out that the good guys used to wipe their villains minds, changing their personalities, and maybe just maybe they might have done it to a hero or two as well. 10 years ago this story was almost unheard of in the DC Universe. The concepts and the impact this event had the potential for immense ramifications. DC had on occasion killed a character for shock effect — for example Superman — the problem was that such events didn’t last and overall rarely changed the status quo for long. Identity Crisis was the chance for real lasting change leading up to the Infinite Crisis crossover.
Here’s the problem, it didn’t last. In 2011 DC decided to completely rewrite their history, starting over again from scratch, destroying the impact that this series had making it almost painful to see the lost potential. Ten years ago this series was good — sure, it had its flaws because it wraps up too quickly. The seven issues could have easily been stretched out further without any loss, and there’s a huge plot hole that any diehard fan shouldn’t be able to let go of — namely that a piece of technological equipment designed with attributes from four different worlds and Batman could be bypassed by a human using a known power and with no special training.
Looking back now, the series doesn’t hold up, mainly since DC doesn’t seem to have the ability to maintain a complex universe like Marvel does, at least not for long. Which is a shame, this series would easily have a higher rating in my mind if the company as a whole hadn’t wiped away its impact. Still, you can get a TPB of this for under $20 so if you don’t mind the fact that the books don’t make a lasting impact it’s worth it just for getting the chance to finally see Deathstroke take down a team of seven Leaguers with relative ease.