DC Comics is hosting a unique Heroes in Crisis press event Friday morning onboard a yacht in the San Diego harbor. Press were handed out a white DC robe and a set of beads as they boarded the yacht, with art from Heroes in Crisis #1 by Clay Mann posted around main floor (A better look at that art can be found here.)
“Welcome to Sanctuary. Your robe is for your comfort and will conceal your identity," an announcement plays on a loop. "Your guide, Tom King, will be with you shortly.”
Heroes in Crisis writer Tom King has the assembled press sit atop white pillows - a gong is being rung in the background.
There’s an explanation of Sanctuary playing over the speaker: “Sanctuary is the therapy you need," “We base our therapy on Batman’s will, Wonder Woman’s compassion, and Superman’s need to always do right.”
After a quiet meditation, King reveals the two men in gold masks are in fact Clay Mann and Mitch Gerads - with Gerads announced as joining the Heroes in Crisis series as a co-artist.
King says Gerads will provide art for “deep dive” stories into the psychology of individual heroes.
"Heroes in Crisis is a realization of the themes of Mister Miracle," King says. The writer frames that current series as an examination of one person's impact on the DCU.
"[Heroes in Crisis will] open up hundreds of heroes to the examination we’ve given Scott Free.”
Heroes in Crisis is intended by King to change the way heroes and superhero stories are seen, a la Crisis on Infinite Earths, but through a personal story.
“That’s the PR reason it’s called Crisis,” said King.
King said the real reason for the “Crisis” title comes from a nervous breakdown he had in 2016, which included physical panic attacks.
The breakdown was accompanied by the death of his grandmother who raised him.
“I was broken, I didn’t realize how brittle I was.”
He’s spent the last two years in therapy, working through his PTSD and mental health. King said its important to him to express that people can get help for these issues without shame or worry, as it helped him to consider the lives superheroes have lived, and that they too have survived trauma.
King said he survived by leaning on others.
“I don’t feel like I created Sanctuary, I feel like I discovered it.”
Sanctuary is located in rural Nebraska - near where his grandmother was from. It is a small, remote farmhouse surrounded by flatland. In DCU continuity, it was built by Batman using Kryptonian technology, and is staffed by AI based on Wonder Woman’s compassion.
Beneath the farmhouse are “chambers” similar to the idea of a Star Trek holodeck, capable of simulating necessary therapy scenarios. Sanctuary is anonymous - patients wear white robes and gold masks for anonymity.
The final part of the Sanctuary process is confession, followed by unmasking.
Clay Mann designed a pin based on Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman’s logo. King urged folks who have experiences similar trauma to wear them in solidarity, if they feel comfortable.
“Sanctuary is a background, but the book is about a massacre. It gets dark, but our pain is our strength.”
The story starts with a mass shooting - a massacre at Sanctuary. A dozen heroes are killed, and no one knows who did it.
“The second mystery is, can they put this all back together.”
King said the story is inspired by the current state of the world, and the shared trauma of terrifying events. While in Afghanistan working for the C.I.A., King read Infinite Crisis and said he read where DC co-Publisher Dan Didio said "You can’t have a Crisis without a dead Flash. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that."
King consulted with crisis centers and psychologists, “but in the end I felt it was more productive to tell my story and not worry about telling the stories of others.”
King wouldn't explain a recent image he tweeted from the series of Harley Quinn lassoing Batman with Wonder Woman’s golden lasso. Here's that image in question:
King said Booster Gold and Harley Quinn were chosen because they make mistakes, but they are still heroes.
"Harley Quinn is a survivor, and that’s just endlessly inspiring to people. Booster is the king of good intentions,” said King.
Sanctuary pins would appear in other comic bookss and stories once Heroes In Crisis begins. Sanctuary confessions will appear in other books as well.
King said he feels it’s important to show readers the pinnacles of strength and of masculinity and femininity expressing the power of getting help.
And with one more request to meditate, that’s it for our trip to Sanctuary.