Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Second True Origin of Identity Crisis

A few months ago, I wrote about how Darkseid was the true mastermind of Brad Meltzer's Identity Crisis. While the post was mostly some fun speculation, this week I happened to stumble across what I'm pretty sure is the actual inspiration for Meltzer's storyline: Justice League of America 122.


Quick Summation: Doctor Light uses his powers to mix up the leaguers secret identities. Why he does this, I'll touch on in a second, but crux of his scheme gives us the issues title:

The title, while pretty much a smoking gun, isn't the only connection to the 2004 story. There are a few others.


For one, amnesia (or mind wiping) is a main plot device:
 

See, Dr. Light's plan is to have every Justice Leaguer (with the exception of Aquaman) switch secret identities. For instance, Hal Jordan will think he's Barry Allen. Then when he unwittingly shows up in Central City Police station to work at Barry's job, he'll fall for a trap that only the Flash could get out of. 
 Why Dr. Light couldn't just set up said trap in Star City where Hal Jordan works is beyond me. That's probably why I'm not a master super-villain.

Anyway, also just like in Identity Crisis, there is a "death" in this issue. In this case it's Aquaman, who meets his end when he accidentally touches booby trapped luminescent fish.

One of the most dramatic scenes in Identity Crisis is when Batman loses his shit and attacks his fellow leaguers:
 

 Here is the scene in JLA 122 that I think inspired IC's angry Batman attack:

Another, more tenuous connection is this scene where Atom takes out Dr. Light by jabbing a needle in his skull.


I suspect this scene was the inspiration for how Jean Loring killed Sue Dibney in Identity Crisis by jumping on her brain.


What all of the connections have in common I believe is the older JLA 122 versions probably deeply affected young Brad Meltzer in a way that stuck with him. I'm sure we all have scenes from old comics that we remember reading when from our youth that rocked our world as kids. In Brad's case, he was able to take some of that youthful anxiety and increase it in a way that was effective on adults. (In some cases too effective.)

There are many people who do not like Identity Crisis for a number of reasons, (like Grant Morrison, who takes great offense with the Sue Dibney rape scene.) And while I think it definitely has its flaws, the mini-series does indeed find a way to take some of the elements from Bronze age stories and make them more provocative and interesting for an older audience.

The real question is: Is that a good thing?

- Jim



6 comments:

Reno said...

It was necessary for GL to think he was Flash because the folding cell was invented by Ira West, Barry's father-in-law. If it was the real Barry who was there, he'd just vibrate out of it (as it was explained in the comic).

This was the very first Justice League comic that I owned and remember reading. I remember Dr. Light as being a formidable foe for the JLA, and was baffled that he was ridiculed as a super-villain in later years.

I didn't like Identity Crisis either, since it had a lot of unnecessarily dark elements, like Firestorm's death. And it wasn't enough that Sue was raped, just to add to the tragedy of her death she was pregnant, too.

MattComix said...

Ugh, the Didio regimes meatgrinder was cranking well before New 52.

Let Watchmen be Watchmen, let The Authority be The Authority, and for love of God just let the Justice League be the Justice League!

Jim Shelley said...

@Reno, I guess the idea is that because the hero *thought* they were another hero, they allowed themselves to step into a trap their real persona would have been on guard for. While that's not explicitly explained in the comic, it does make sense as a plan.

Jim Shelley said...

@MattComix - While it's easy (very easy) to blame Didio, I think *much* of the blame lies at the feet of fans. It was fans who rabidly sought out comics like Infinite Crisis and The Ultimates where ultra violence became the standard. And that rabid following stayed around for a long time. It's only *now* that we are starting to see that "generation" of fans start to walk away from comics.

Neil Hansen said...

I agree very much with Mattcomix. Since Dido's regime, I pretty much stopped collecting new comics entirely. You can be adult about material, but the random killing of solid characters just irks the hell out of me. The Elongated Man, since this, was pretty much put out to pasture because the one thing that separated him from Plastic Man in the DC Universe was the happy marriage and wife as crime fighting partner a la Nora Charles. Wish DC would just put out a separate line devoted to the classic characters without those damned ugly Jim Lee designed New 52 costumes.

Maria Owens said...

New cartoon series are taking place of old and their stories are really interesting so it attract people easily. I like to see cartoon series of superman after writing the research paper because his actions easily refresh my mind always.

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