Friday, December 19, 2014 • Morning Edition • "We deal with the loons so you don't have to."

Identity Crisis - Brad Meltzer Rags Morales

Written by Arion on Tuesday, September 18 2012 and posted in Blog

Identity Crisis - Brad Meltzer Rags Morales
Michael Turner (covers / portadas)
When Edgar Allan Poe sat down to write The Murders of the Rue Morgue he created a new literary genre. His detailed description of a ghastly crime along with the sharp mind of Auguste Dupin became something unique; and thus the concepts of the mystery and the detective became forever intertwined. Through the years, many literary characters have investigated murders and have captured the murderers. Sherlock Holmes did it in the 19th century and Batman did it in the 20th century. However, deductive minds and superhero affairs are not as common as they used to be.

Novelist Brad Meltzer proved that a ‘whodunit?’ miniseries could be every bit as fascinating and thought-provoking as the original Poe short story. And thus, Identity Crisis begins. In the first pages the readers get to know the protagonists: Ralph Dibny (AKA Elongated Man), Sue Dibny (Ralph’s wife) and members of the old Justice League of America. 

With a great sense of pacing, the New York Times’ best-selling author combines different subplots. First we have Ralph Dibny talking about how he met his wife, and in just a handful of pages he makes us care about her. This is no ordinary feat, many writers today need more than half a dozen issues to flesh out characters, Brad Meltzer manages to do so in less than one issue. At the same time we have Bolt, a super-villain in disgrace that wants to illegally purchase a weapon designed by Lex Luthor decades ago. In order to do so, he’s paying up to a thousand dollars a question to the Calculator, a villainous costumed thief that used to wear giant numbers and who was vilipended and ridiculed by everyone. The Calculator, however, has reinvented himself, and now he acts like an Oracle for the villain community, providing valuable information and other services to those who have enough money to pay him. 

After spending his last dollars with the Calculator, Bolt doesn’t have enough in his pockets to actually buy the weapon he wants. And as he tries to steal it, he gets gunned down by a couple of hoodlums. Simultaneously, a sinister figure savagely attacks Sue Dibny in her own home and kills her. Thanks to several pages dedicated to Sue, at this point we understand the essence of the character and we also feel the loss. Here, death is not a pointless moment, like it happens in so many comic books from either DC or Marvel. Death forces us to reflect upon the vulnerabilities of heroes and especially their loved ones. 

The funeral is extremely dramatic. Ralph Dibny can’t hold himself together. Literally. His fluid and stretchable body is unable to retain his human form. The grief is overwhelming. And as readers, even if we have never read a comic book about Ralph or Sue, we still feel as if we were in front of the coffin. Meltzer puts all his heart and talent into these pages. The result is both heartbreaking and unforgettable.
Identity Crisis - Brad Meltzer Rags Morales
Funeral

We already have the gruesome murder and what we need now is to guess who did it. Like all members of the Justice League, Dibny’s house had a state-of-the-art security system, with technology from New Genesis, Krypton and other alien worlds; the residence was an impregnable fortress. Nonetheless, as Batman searches the crime scene for clues he finds nothing. No broken doors or windows, nothing out of place, someone has managed to get in the apartment without altering even a single fiber of the carpet. 

Quickly, the heroes decide that an enemy with teleportation powers must be responsible. The current Justice League, the Titans, the Outsiders and the Justice Society of America are divided into groups and so the hunt for the villains begins. Nevertheless one group stays behind: the former members of the old Justice League of America, namely, Hawkman, Atom, Green Arrow, Black Canary and Zatanna. Together, they remember something that happened years ago when Barry Allen (Flash) and Hal Jordan (Green Lantern) were still alive. Dr. Light had gained access to the League’s satellite and had brutally raped Sue Dibny. 

For many fans, superhero comics and rape are two concepts that don’t belong together. I understand that when Identity Crisis was originally published in 2004, many cried out and complained about the aberrant behavior of Doctor Light, who beats up and anally rapes the wife of a very well-known hero. Ever since Identity Crisis was released, the term “raping the reader’s childhood” has turned into a popular meme amongst posters in message boards. I particularly consider this one of the most intense and powerful moments I have ever read in a superhero comic, whether it be DC’s or Marvel’s. I don’t ascribe to the hypothesis that showing rape in the pages of a comic book is a misogynist and ill-fated decision. On the contrary, I applaud Meltzer for having to courage of showing us how a true criminal would act.
Identity Crisis - Brad Meltzer Rags Morales
Dr. Light raping Sue Dibny / Dr. Light violando a Sue Dibny

Sickened by the viciousness of Dr. Light, the Leaguers must take a hard decision. They must erase his memories and send him to prison, but after such a violent act, they decide to take the punishment a bit further. After submitting to a vote, they decide to practice a lobotomy on the unsuspecting villain. From that moment on, Dr. Light is transformed into a feeble man that becomes the laughingstock of every hero in town. When Wally West (the new Flash) and Kyle Rayner (the new Green Lantern) learn the horrible truth they don’t even know what to say.

When the heroes discover the whereabouts of Dr. Light they charge against him, only to be outsmarted and overpowered by Deathstroke, the Terminator. Unlike most humans who use only 10% percent of their brain capacity, Deathstroke uses 90% of it. Increased reflexes and constant training have turned him into a lethal living weapon. In a question of minutes, he defeats the Justice League of America. This is a brilliantly choreographed battle in which Meltzer, yet again, proves that he knows his material and he understands the motivations and characteristics of heroes and villains better than anyone else. 

Dr. Light and Deathstroke escape, and that’s when Superman appears. As the first report of Sue Dibny’s autopsy comes in, Dr. Light has been ruled out as a possible homicide suspect. However, Wally West and Kyle Rayner make another upsetting discovery. The Justice League of America had been mind-wiping villain’s brains for years. As they recount the situation, the big guns, Superman and Batman, would always leave as soon as they could, leaving all the clean-up to the rest of the League. Throughout the years, many opponents found out the true identities of the Leaguers and time and time again, their minds had to be tampered with, their memories subtracted and deleted. 

The greatest heroes of yesterday are shown as cruel and ruthless vigilantes, almost as insensitive as the villains they have chased down. After all, not even the cruelest of villains had dared to alter the minds of the heroes, and these do-gooders have had no hesitations in doing that and worse things. Wally West and Kyle Rayner have gotten a whole lot more than what they bargained for. How is it possible that Batman never suspected about this? How can they explain that not even Superman would know what’s going on? As Green Arrow explains to Wally, “people aren’t stupid, Wally. They believe what they want to believe. And hear what they want to hear”. One way or another, everyone has been an accomplice. And that’s why, for years, Oliver Queen (Green Arrow) had been fighting with Carter Hall (Hawkman) or Ray Palmer (Atom). It wasn’t about politics, or rather it was about politics as the Greek would understand them: the most basic of rules that guarantee a civilized coexistence inside the same polis or city.  

At the same time, Meltzer adds more conflicts as we see Tim Drake (Robin) dealing with the fact that his father knows his secret identity. The man is worried sick every night Robin goes out on patrol, but no matter what he does or says, Tim has no intentions of letting go of his career as a young hero. Meanwhile, we also see the frustration of Digger Harkness (AKA Captain Boomerang), a washed-up villain who can’t get any job, not even with the help of Calculator. Ruined and without any optimistic perspective, the only thing that cheers him up is to meet his illegitimate son for the first time.

A failed assassination attempt on Jean Loring (Ray Palmer’s ex-wife) raises more suspicions. With all their powers and special abilities superheroes have become too difficult a target, but their loved ones remain just as vulnerable as ever. Some heroes suspect that the culprit comes from within the ranks of the Suicide Squad. Only Batman is bright enough to formulate the question that Auguste Dupin or Sherlock Holmes would ask: who benefits? For every crime, there must be a motive. And as Batman observes, the Sucide Squad does not benefit from the killing spree. Who, then, is the true murderer? 

(…to be continued)
____________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________
Identity Crisis - Brad Meltzer Rags Morales
Ralph Dibny (Elongated Man)

Cuando Edgar Allan Poe se sentó a escribir "Los crímenes de la Rue Morgue" creó un nuevo género literario. Su descripción detallada de un horrendo crimen junto con la aguda mente de Auguste Dupin se convirtieron en algo único; y así, los conceptos de misterio y detectives quedaron ligados para siempre. A través de los años, muchos personajes literarios han investigado asesinatos y han capturado a los asesinos. Sherlock Holmes lo hizo en el siglo XIX y Batman lo hizo en el siglo XX. Sin embargo, una mente deductiva y los asuntos heroicos no son tan comunes como solían ser.

El novelista Brad Meltzer demostró en esta miniserie que las intrigas podían ser tan fascinantes y reflexivas como el cuento original de Poe. Y de este modo, empieza "Identity Crisis" (Crisis de identidad). En las primeras páginas los lectores conocen a los protagonistas: Ralph Dibny (Elongated Man / Hombre Elástico), Sue Dibny (esposa de Ralph) y miembros de la vieja Liga de la Justicia de América.

Con un gran sentido del ritmo narrativo, el autor mejor vendido del New York Times combina diferentes argumentos secundarios. Primero tenemos a Ralph Dibny contando cómo conoció a su esposa, y en sólo un puñado de páginas llegamos a querer al personaje. Esta no es una hazaña ordinaria, muchos escritores hoy en día necesitan más de media docena de números para darle sustancia a los personajes, mientras que Brad Meltzer lo consigue en menos de un número. Al mismo tiempo, tenemos a Bolt, un súper-villano caído en desgracia que quiere comprar ilegalmente un arma que Lex Luthor diseñó hace décadas. Para adquirirla, ha estado pagándole mil dólares por pregunta al villanesco Calculator, un ladrón disfrazado que solía vestirse con números gigantes y era vilipendiado y ridiculizado por todos. Calculator, sin embargo, se ha reinventado, y ahora actúa como un Oráculo para la comunidad de villanos, suministrando información valiosa y otros servicios para aquellos que tengan suficiente dinero para pagar.

Después de gastar sus últimos dólares con Calculator, Bolt no tiene suficiente en sus bolsillos para comprar el arma que quiere. Y cuando intenta robarla, es abatido por un par de delincuentes de poca monta. Simultáneamente, una siniestra figura ataca salvajemente a Sue Dibny en su propia casa y la mata. Gracias a las páginas dedicadas a Sue, en este punto entendemos la esencia del personaje y sentimos la pérdida. Aquí la muerte no es un truco vacío, como sucede en tantos cómics de DC o Marvel. La muerte nos obliga a reflexionar sobre las vulnerabilidades de los héroes y, en especial, de sus seres queridos.

El funeral es extremadamente dramático. Ralph Dibny no puede tenerse en pie. Literalmente. Su cuerpo, fluido y flexible, es incapaz de retener su forma humana. La pena es abrumadora. Y como lectores, incluso si nunca hemos leído un cómic sobre Ralph o Sue, igual nos sentimos como si estuviésemos frente al ataúd. Meltzer pone todo su corazón y todo su talento en estas páginas. El resultado nos parte el corazón; es inolvidable.
Identity Crisis - Brad Meltzer Rags Morales
Deathstroke & Dr. Light

Tras el sangriento asesinato, necesitamos averiguar quién lo cometió. Como todos los miembros de la Liga de la Justicia, la casa de Dibny tenía el mejor sistema de seguridad, con tecnología de Nuevo Génesis, Krypton y otros mundos; la residencia era una fortaleza inexpugnable. No obstante, cuando Batman busca pistas en la escena del crimen no encuentra nada. No hay ventanas ni puertas rotas, nada está fuera de sitio, alguien se las ha arreglado para entrar en el departamento sin alterar una sola fibra de la alfombra. 

Rápidamente, los héroes deciden que un enemigo con poderes de teleportación debe ser el responsable. La actual Liga de la Justicia, los Titanes, los Outsiders y la Sociedad de la Justicia de América se dividen en grupos y la caza de los villanos comienza. No obstante, un grupo no se moviliza: los ex-miembros de la vieja Liga de Justicia de América, es decir, Hawkman, Atom, Green Arrow, Black Canary y Zatanna. Juntos recuerdan algo que sucedió hace años, cuando Barry Allen (Flash) y Hal Jordan (Green Lantern) todavía estaban vivos. Dr. Light había irrumpido en el satélite de la Liga y había violado brutalmente a Sue Dibny.

Para muchos fans, los cómics de súper-héroes y la violación son dos conceptos que nunca van juntos. Cuando Identity Crisis fue originalmente publicada en el 2004, muchos se quejaron de la conducta aberrante del Doctor Light, quien golpea y viola analmente a la esposa de un reconocido héroe. Desde que Identity Crisis salió a la venta, el término "violar la infancia del lector" se convirtió en algo común en los foros en línea. Particularmente, considero que este es uno de los momentos más intensos y poderosos que he leído en un cómic de súper-héroes, ya sea de DC o de Marvel. Desestimo la hipótesis de que mostrar una violación en las páginas de un cómic sea una decisión misógina o desatinada. Al contrario, aplaudo a Meltzer por tener el coraje de enseñarnos los actos de un verdadero criminal.

Asqueados por la depravación de Dr. Light, los justicieros deben tomar una difícil decisión. Deben borrar los recuerdos de Light y enviarlo a la prisión, pero luego de un acto tan violento, deciden llevar el castigo un poco más lejos. Luego de votar, deciden practicar una lobotomía en el indefenso villano. Desde ese momento, Dr. Light es transformado en un hombre débil que termina siendo el hazmerreír de todos los héroes. Cuando  Wally West (el nuevo Flash) y Kyle Rayner (el nuevo Green Lantern) descubren la horrible verdad se quedan sin palabras.

Cuando los héroes descubren el paradero de Dr. Light lo acorralan, aunque son abrumados por Deathstroke, el Terminator. A diferencia de la mayoría de humanos que sólo usan el 10% de su capacidad cerebral, Deathstroke utiliza el 90%. Reflejos aumentados y un constante entrenamiento lo convierten en una letal arma viviente. En cuestión de minutos, derrota a la Liga de la Justicia de América. Esta es una batalla brillantemente coreografiada en la que Meltzer, nuevamente, demuestra que conoce su material y entiende las motivaciones y características de los héroes y villanos mejor que nadie.

Dr. Light y Deathstroke escapan, y entonces Superman aparece. El primer reporte de la autopsia de Sue Dibny ha llegado, y Dr. Light ha sido descartado como posible homicida. Sin embargo, Wally West y Kyle Rayner hacen otro desagradable descubrimiento. La Liga de la Justicia de América ha estado borrando la mente de los villanos por años. Tal como es narrado, los mayores héroes, Superman y Batman, siempre estaban muy ocupados, y dejaban toda la limpieza al resto de la Liga. A través de los años, muchos oponentes descubrieron las identidades de los justicieros, y una y otra vez, sus mentes tuvieron que ser modificadas, sus memorias sustraídas y borradas.
Identity Crisis - Brad Meltzer Rags Morales
Batman & Alfred

Los grandiosos héroes del ayer son mostrados como vigilantes crueles y despiadados, casi tan insensibles como los villanos a los que persiguen. Después de todo, ni siquiera los villanos más crueles se habían atrevido a alterar las mentes de los héroes, y estos bienhechores no tuvieron dudas a la hora de hacer estas y peores cosas. Wally West y Kyle Rayner ahora saben más de lo que pueden asimilar. ¿Cómo es posible que Batman nunca sospechara sobre esto? ¿Cómo pueden explicar que Superman no sepa lo que está sucediendo? Tal como Green Arrow le explica a Wally "la gente no es estúpida, Wally. Creen lo que quieren creer. Y escuchan lo que quieren escuchar". De un modo u otro, todos han sido cómplices. Y es por ello que, durante año, Oliver Queen (Green Arrow) ha estado peleándose con Carter Hall (Hawkman) o Ray Palmer (Atom). No por política, o más bien sí por política tal como los griegos la entenderían: como las reglas más básicas que garantizan la coexistencia civilizada en la misma polis o ciudad.

Al mismo tiempo, Meltzer añade más conflictos. Tim Drake (Robin) debe lidiar con el hecho de que su padre conoce su identidad secreta. El hombre se preocupa en extremo cada noche que Robin sale a patrullar las calles, pero no importa lo que haga o diga, Tim no tiene intenciones de desprenderse de su carrera como héroe juvenil. Mientras tanto, también vemos la frustración de Digger Harkness (Capitán Boomerang), un villano fracasado que no puede conseguir ningún trabajo, ni siquiera con la ayuda de Calculator. Arruinado y sin ninguna perspectiva optimista, lo único que lo anima es reunirse por primera vez con su hijo ilegítimo.

Jean Loring (ex esposa de Ray Palmer) es víctima de un fallido intento de asesinato que levanta nuevas sospechas. Con todos sus poderes y habilidades especiales, los súper-héroes se han convertido en blancos difíciles, pero sus seres queridos son tan vulnerables como siempre. Algunos héroes sospechan que el culpable se encuentra en las filas del Escuadrón Suicida. Sólo Batman tiene la astucia de formular la pregunta que haría Auguste Dupin o Sherlock Holmes: ¿quién se beneficia? Para cada crimen, debe haber un motivo. Y como observa Batman, el Escuadrón Suicida no se beneficia con estas matanzas. ¿Quién, entonces, es el verdadero asesino?

(…continuará)

Originally Published at http://artbyarion.blogspot.com/2012/09/identity-crisis-brad-meltzer-rags.html


Help spread the word, loyal readers! Share this story on social media:




Comment without an Outhouse Account using Facebook

We get it. You don't feel like signing up for an Outhouse account, even though it's FREE and EASY! That's okay. You can comment with your Facebook account below and we'll take care of adding it to the stream above. But you really should consider getting a full Outhouse account, which will allow you to quote posts, choose an avatar and sig, and comment on our forums too. If that sounds good to you, sign up for an Outhouse account by clicking here.

Note: while you are welcome to speak your mind freely on any topic, we do ask that you keep discussion civil between each other. Nasty personal attacks against other commenters is strongly discouraged. Thanks!
Help spread the word, loyal readers! Share this story on social media:


About the Author - Arion


Arion, who is either from Chile or New York (it’s not really clear) writes a blog that the Outhouse steals on a regular basis.  Arion is by far the nicest of all the staff writers and the most well behaved only having been banned from one country.  One thing we really appreciate about Aroin is that he writes his reviews in English and Spanish and we hope someday he’ll translate this blurb for us.  We’re not so good at languages, just look at how well we write in English if you need proof.  You should bookmark Arion’s blog -  http://artbyarion.blogspot.com – and actually look at it.  There will be a quiz at the end of every month.

 


More articles from Arion
The Outhouse is not responsible for any butthurt incurred by reading this website. All original content copyright the author. Banner by Ali Jaffery - he's available for commission!