I’ve always preferred Japanese manga to Western comics. Something about mainstream Western comic art style and story-telling always felt lackluster to me. There are exceptions of course, but by and large they’re not something I’d waste time or money on. Identity Crisis may be one of those exceptions.
The first discussion point is what is most immediately obvious about any comic book: the art. I would not say the art was as nice as 1602 Witch Hunter Angela, but it certainly seemed a step above a lot of traditional comics. I can’t recall any one particular frame that made me think “ick,” which is an accomplishment in and of itself.
Next comes the story. My friend raved about The Killing Joke, which ultimately ended up being a letdown in how predictable I found it. As such, I approach comics with low expectations. Perhaps it was because I had low expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised by the actual story of Identity Crisis. There was still predictable parts, sure, but there was enough that I didn’t guess to keep it interesting, and it’s obvious some thought was put into it.
I did borrow this book from the library, and I’m not sure how re-readable it is, so I can’t say I’d suggest paying a lot of money on it, but if you can find it for cheap or borrow a copy, it’s worth your time to read.
I enjoyed how this comic gave attention to the loved ones of super heroes, specifically to the danger they’re in. Sure, you have comics when Louis Lane or whoever gets kidnapped, but often the danger feels like a simple plot device or excuse, with the main focus still being on the hero versus the bad guy. In Identity Crisis, heroes relationships with their loved ones and the threat to the lived ones’ safety is central and felt throughout the story. And not just heroes: a brief but surprisingly sincere reunion story between Captain Boomerang and his illegitimate son is also featured in the book.
The focus on these relationships makes it more impactful when we finally learn that the culprit behind Sue Dibny’s murder is The Atom’s on-again-off-again lover, Jean Loring. The extra whammy behind it is that Jean insists she didn’t mean to kill Sue, she just wanted to rough her up so the heroes would get worried and spend more time with their loved ones. So the villain isn’t your classic villain, but rather someone with mental/emotiona; issues that are just coming to light.