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Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

Identity Crisis #1

Identity Crisis #1 [of 7]

Scheduled to arrive in stores: June 9, 2004

Cover date: August 2004

Writer: Brad Meltzer
Penciller: Rags Morales
Inker: Mike Blair

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Opal City, thirty minutes until now:

Ralph Dibny (Elongated Man) and Lorainne Reilly (Firehawk) ponder what's in a box that they're staking out. Two baldish goons stand waiting for their contact below. Elongated Man thinks there's a villain involved.


Clark Kent eats with his family, poking fun at Ma for trying to pay for her Daily Planet subscription when Clark can comp it. His JLA beeper goes off, and he changes and leaves, telling Pa to lock the door.

Nightwing and Starfire stand over the grave of Dick's parents, observing the anniversary of their death. The JLA beeper goes off, and they leave immediately.

Both Green Arrows (Ollie and son) work out with Catman when they get the call, leaving immediately.

Seventeen minutes until now:

Firehawk asks Elongated Man how he met his wife. He explains that it was love at first sight, though there were many other more popular heroes in his city, she chose him. He explains that the reason he is out on patrol is because she's continuing her tradition of surprising him on his birthday. One time she had Flash dress up as an old man. She likes to give him a mystery.

Fourteen minutes until now:

The goons complain to themselves that they've been kept waiting for two hours.

Twelve minutes until now:

Bolt sits in a car and watches the goons. He speaks on the phone with the Calculator who, hearing about Oracle, decided to become an information source. He explains to Bolt who the goons are, and what their pasts are. He also tells Bolt that Firehawk and Elongated Man are in the vicinity.

Sue Dibny, meanwhile, prepares a cake for Elongated Man as Elongated Man explains to Firehawk that she's probably getting him a magnifying glass he saw. He knows, because as a detective he just observes too much.

Sue puts the magnifying glass in a box, adding something else in a silhouette that we can't see, calling it a surprise.

Two minutes to now:

Bolt appears, demanding the box. The goons open fire.

Elongated Man and Firehawk spring into action. As they do, Elongated Man gets a call from Sue, who's being thrown onto a table as Bolt is being shot in multiple places.

Elongated Man tells Firehawk to take him home, now. She tells him he'll be burned. He tells her to take him home.

A gun aims at Sue's head and gouts flames.

One of the goons runs off, and the other goon calls an ambulance at Bolt's request.

Behind him, we see the Luthor battle armor.

At the home, Elongated Man arrives to find his wife burned to death and the sprinkler system going. In the box, his magnifying glass is broken, and we see that the item in silhouette was a pregnancy test. Sue was pregnant.

Tim Drake, arriving home from a day as Robin, sits with his father and hears that Sue has been killed.

One hour from now:

Black Lightning and Katana, at a fancy dinner, hear a waiter being slammed for asking a patron not to use his cell phone. Black Lightning shorts the man's cell phone and ignores his own pager.

Ray Palmer meets with his ex-wife over divorce matters when he gets the call about Sue and leaves.

Four hours from now:

Green Arrow arrives at the crime scene, where a number of people examine the evidence, including Batman, Mr. Miracle, The Ray, Atom, Lead, and Gold, doing metallurgy.

Forty-eight hours from now:

A number of heroes carry the casket in to the packed funeral.

Wonder Woman says some words, then Ralph tries to, but he can't keep his face together, he's so stricken by grief.

The heroes disperse to go after the various suspects, but a select group stays behind and prepares to go after the real culprit, who Ralph reveals, in his grief, to be Dr. Light.

4Story - 4: I'm an average guy.

At least, that's what I'd like to think. I spend a good chunk of change on comics, I pick up occasional books out of the mainstream, and I've read comics since I was five years old. I know a lot of characters, a lot of obscure references, and I tend to get the weird in-jokes most publications that throw out in-jokes to fanboys throw out.

So there are two levels I'm gonna look at this on:



2) A story.

Here's 1)...

Absolute, dismal failure.

First (I can hear the flames coming already, but forgive me), who the heck is Sue Dibny, and why is SHE the big death we've been worried and thinking about? Martian Manhunter? Green Lantern? Tim Drake? THOSE would be important deaths. Sue Dibny, your average fan (read: me) has no clue who she is, nor do they care (well, I do after this story, but I'll get there). I hardly know who Elongated Man is.

We were promised something catastrophic, something that would impact every hero. Well, yeah, but honest truth? Killing Krypto would have more of an impact, because of the fact that we all know who Krypto is. It'd be like...god, what's comparable? Advertising something that is going to SHATTER THE MUSIC WORLD! And then having that something be Garth Brooks releasing an album as Chris Gaines. Uh, okay. Some people are gonna know what that is, and some people have been Garth fans for a long time and think it's just insane and earth shattering that he's changing from the norm. But who the heck is Chris Gaines to all of us, now? Sue Dibny.

She's the Kitster of the DC Universe. Some know who she is, but most really don't. Know who Kitster is? Well, be a Star Wars geek. But if they killed him, even though apparently he was someone's best friend for a LONG time, I wouldn't care.

And Dr. Light as the culprit? Well, wow! Excuse me. I went onto the internet for about a half hour, and I can't find much of anything on the man, and I don't know anything about where he's from, what he does, his connection to Ralph and Sue.

This is Earth-shattering?

A deadly secret?

The comics event of the YEAR?


But here's 2).

Is it a good story?

Yes. I really enjoyed it. I'm intrigued. Now I WANT to know who Ralph and Sue Dibny are, and why Dr. Light is such a bad guy to them.

We have a pregnant wife killed in a brutal way, a wife who has apparently been close to Elongated Man for a long time, and it's really brutal, really passionately done, especially the funeral. There are a number of scenes (far too many) where heroes get beeper calls. One or two is enough, we get the idea. Or a montage page of folks checking their beepers. It'd be different if they all fell to pieces at the call, but really they just jump out of the room and go to JLA Headquarters or whatever.

And Tim Drake quit being Robin right after his dad found out. That's a big flaw.

And hey, we have Luthor's armor back in the mix. My personal theory? Luthor's pulling the strings. Why? Loeb hinted at it. Luthor said, "There's agonna be a crisis, Mario!" Or something like that.

Either way, I actually look forward to the next issue when I was bored to tears at the beginning, and now, having read it twice, I'm impressed with the writing. Good stuff.

And hey, unlike most comics, it's CONSISTENT. No huge continuity errors. And creative. Imagine that!

5Art - 5: Rags is good.

Rags is REAL good.

Ralph falling apart, the funeral scene, the first distinctive Ma and Pa Kent in a while, the burning scene, the pacing... good stuff. I'm intrigued, and I want to see more.

2Cover Art - 2: Man, the JLA needs to see a chiropractor, 'cause they gots some BAD posture! And Batman? Boy's got a BIG darned chest, as does everyone else.

Nah, really, they all just look awkward, there are words all over the cover, the title is kind of weird, and this story has nothing to do with Superman, and yet he's the central figure on the cover. And where's Ralph? And Sue? I know secrecy is an important part of the story, but still, this cover just looks, I don't know, contrived, cheesy, funky? I mean, Batman wasn't even at the funeral.

And Superman's tear... don't even get me started on that. I've been trying to think of a caption for that since Wednesday.

My favorite is harkening back to that eighties commercial with the Indian. "If you litter, Superman will cry!"

Or, "Don't kick dogs. It makes Superman sad."

Or, "Supergirl gets a gout of tears when she dies. Sue Dibny gets one little tear."

Or, "I'm so serious looking, I gotta cry."

Or, "I'm hardly in this issue, boo hoo!"

Or, "Must...stop...chopping...Kryptonian...onion!"

And there's no background. That always bugs me.

All around... WEIRD. Turner's done too many covers of late... one of them had to stink. Here we are. Colorful, but colorful can't mask the funk of badness.

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2004

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Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2004.