By Brad Meltzer (Author) and Rags Morales (Illustrator)
DC Comics (Publisher)
> Review by Michael Hoffert Jr.
The secret identity is easily one of the most important aspects of super hero action fiction. While it stretches all the way back to the genre’s earliest beginnings in the pulp novels of characters like The Shadow and The Phantom, over the years the concept has started to feel a little anachronistic. The concept, however, also provides great fodder for stories, and that is how novelist Brad Meltzer and artist Rags Morales have crafted one of the most polarizing DC Comics stories of all time. Part murder mystery, part character study, Identity Crisis delves into the history of the Justice League, examining how the decisions of one incarnation of the team impact the current group, all centered on the murder of one of their most beloved friends. Meltzer expertly brings his skills as a novelist to bear in the comic book medium. He uses the rich histories of superheroes like Green Arrow and Batman, while deftly adding his own touch, heavily relying on inner monologues and tension-building panel-by-panel story telling. Morales, who is just as effective at illustrating unique and emotive characters as he is at handling the book’s action sequences, makes every page a stand-alone work of pure comics art and story-telling. His penciling style is evocative of some of the industry’s greats, like Brian Bolland and Carmine Infantino. While polarizing and perhaps more adult-focused than some fans will be prepared for or comfortable with, Identity Crisis is a tightly-written “who done it” novel with one of the richest fictional universes as its canvas. One way or another, it is impossible to put this book down, let alone not be emotionally affected by it.