The idea of Crisis-sized events in the DC Universe usually involve threats of a multiversal nature; however, 2004’s Identity Crisis by Brad Meltzer and artist Rags Morales hit the heroes much closer to home. What began as an investigation into the murder of Sue Dibny brought to light many of the dark secrets that some members of the Justice League hoped would have stayed buried in the past.
The events of Identity Crisis set the pieces in motion for Infinite Crisis and Final Crisis, the universe-shattering events that reshaped the DC Universe. This seven-issue event found the superheroes dealing with the fallout in their solo series and the Justice League title, JLA.
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Ralph Dibny is the character most affected by the events of Identity Crisis, as the story begins with the death of his wife Sue. After the memorial service, Ralph joins his former Justice League team members as they go after Doctor Light, who they believe murdered Sue, only to get in a fight with Deathstroke, who Doctor Light has hired to protect him.
In the story’s epilogue, Ralph is shown getting ready for bed, talking to Sue as if she were still alive. In one of the panels, bottles of Gingold are shown in the trash can, foreshadowing his retirement from his superhero persona and setting the stage for his role in the post-Infinite Crisis series, 52.
9 Wally West Suffers His Own Identity Crisis When He Learns That Barry Voted In Favor Of Mind-wiping Villains
Wally West, The Flash, was also profoundly affected by the secrets revealed that the Justice League regularly altered memories of the villains during the Satellite years of the Justice League. Suspecting something is up, Wally eavesdrops on the group of heroes going after Doctor Light, leading Green Arrow to recount the events of Doctor Light’s rape of Sue Dibny and how Barry Allen was the deciding vote to alter Light’s mind. Wally also learns from Green Arrow that the team altered Batman’s mind when he discovered what they were doing to Doctor Light. The mindwiping of villains would also be something Wally dealt with in The Flash title with The Rouges and the return of The Top.
8 The Atom Left His Ex-Wife In Arkham After He Learned She Was Behind Sue’s Death Setting The Stage For Countdown To Final Crisis
Identity Crisis also follows Ray Palmer, the Atom, who at the beginning of the story meets with his ex-wife Jean Loring as she returns some of the patents she received as part of their divorce settlement. After rescuing Jean, who was supposedly hung with one of Slipknot’s ropes, Ray and Jean begin to rekindle their relationship
The newly reunited couple isn’t happy for long once Ray realizes that it was Jean who accidentally killed Sue, then tried to cover it up by setting the house on fire and set things in motion leading to Tim Drake’s dad being killed. Ray takes Jean to Arkham Asylum and then disappears into the Multiverse until he is found during Countdown to Final Crisis and Jean becomes Eclipso.
7 Batman Suffered Both Loss And The Ultimate Betrayal By The Justice League
Things got personal for Batman, not only with Sue Dibny’s death but also the death of Tim Drake’s father, who was killed protecting himself from Captain Boomerang. While Batman doesn’t learn that his memories have been altered, it is hinted at by Green Arrow that Batman is a detective and is probably aware that things surrounding the night of Doctor Light’s attack on Sue don’t add up. As the aftermath of Identity Crisis played out in the JLA series, Batman reveals that he knows the League did something to him that night, only to discover the truth from The Secret Society of Supervillains who show up looking for revenge after Despero restores their memories the Justice League took.
6 Tim Drake’s Life Is Forever Changed When His Father Is Murdered By Boomerang
Just before the events of Identity Crisis, Jack Drake, Tim’s father, learned that his son lived a double life as Batman’s partner. After a short-lived retirement from the vigilante nightlife, Tim returned to his role as Robin with his father’s blessing around the time of Identity Crisis and War Games over in the Bat-titles.
Tim also had to deal with the loss of his father and Owen Mercer, Captain Boomerang’s son, who first appeared during Identity Crisis, who later joined Nightwing’s Outsiders. Tim would move to Bludhaven to care for his stepmother Dana Winters, who was admitted to the Blüdhaven clinic due to Jack’s death.
5 Green Arrow Revealed The Justice League’s Dark Secret And Then Struggled To Keep The League Together
Identity Crisis was the first significant DCU event that Oliver Queen was a part of after returning from the dead during Kevin Smith’s 2000s Quiver story arc. Meltzer, who had followed Smith’s run with Archer’s Quest, used Ollie as the vehicle for exposing the misdeeds of the League, trying to convince Wally that they had no other options to protect their loved ones and justifying the Leaguer’s decision to mindwipe the villains. Ollie would remain a reserve member of the League, ultimately struggling to keep the League afloat during Infinite Crisis.
4 The Death Of Ronnie Raymond Paved The Way For Jason Rusch To Come Into Possession Of The Firestorm Matrix
Another casualty of the Identity Crisis on the side of the heroes was Ronnie Raymond, aka Firestorm. Part of the group attempting to bring in Shadow Thief, only for events to turn fatal for the hero when Shadow Thief takes Shining Knight’s sword and stabs Firestorm, rupturing his containment suit.
Ronnie’s death would set the stage for the Firestorm Matrix to find its new host, the 17-year-old Jason Rusch, who traveled to space as the build-up to Infinite Crisis was unfolding, and discovering that Martin Stein was alive in space as the “Elemental Firestorm” and eventually bonded once again with Rusch and the Matrix.
3 Superman Would Later Reveal That He Knew About The Mindwipes
A minor player in the story, Superman helps when needed and at the end of the story, is in Smallville with Ma Kent, who tries to help her son make sense of all the events. Ma tells Clark that it is okay to be bothered by what has transpired and suggests that perhaps he take some time off from his job as Superman. Clark immediately puts on his costume and tells her that he can’t do that and flies back to the Watchtower. Unlike many major DCU events, Superman takes a back seat to the other heroes in the DCU. It is later revealed over in JLA that Superman had been aware of the mindwipes to the villains and Batman.
2 Wonder Woman Played A Minor Role In Identity Crisis, Appearing In A Supporting Role
Wonder Woman, like Superman, plays more of a secondary role in the series, mainly interrogating potential suspects about Sue Dibny’s murder. Wonder Woman is also seen leading Sue’s memorial service and then questioning Slipknot in prison after Jean Loring is found hanging in one of his trademark knots. Wonder Woman’s only solo scene takes place, following the death of Tim Drake’s father, as she lays a sword at her mother’s grave, during the series of panels where the heroes remember family and friends they lost over the years. Soon after the event, Wonder Woman would go into exile after murdering Maxwell Lord to save Batman.
1 Identity Crisis Foreshadowed Hal Jordon’s End As The Spectre And Return To Life In Green Lantern: Rebirth
For years fans begged for Hal Jordan‘s return and redemption after years of causing mayhem in the DCU as Parallax and meting out God’s Retribution as The Spectre. As issue #4 ends, Oliver visits Hal’s grave, as he appears in the form of the Spectre. Oliver implores Hal to tell him who is behind Sue’s murder, but Hal says that he can’t tell him or punish the guilty party as he can’t punish every murderer. Ollie reluctantly accepts the answer and ends the discussion by asking Hal when he is coming back, to which Jordan replies that he is “working on it.” Months later, the two would reunite in Geoff John’s Green Lantern Rebirth miniseries.
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