As Newsarama has examined, there are a lot of conflicting clues in Heroes in Crisis, the mini-series by Tom King and Clay Mann that launched last year with a murder mystery that shook the DCU in a surprisingly personal way.
As a result, a clear suspect hasn’t emerged. Even DCU super-detectives Bruce Wayne/Batman and Barry Allen/Flash can’t agree about who did it.
The story centers around a place called Sanctuary, a mental health treatment center where heroes (and villains) in the DCU can heal from traumatic experiences.
As the story began, there was mass murder at Sanctuary where around a dozen heroes were killed by an unknown assailant. A murder investigation is now taking place as characters process the tragedy.
So who are the suspects so far? Newsarama takes a look at a few of ones that seem most likely (although feel free to comment about any of your own):
Harley is one of the two main suspects that have emerged. In a recent issue, readers were shown Harley actually perpetrating the murders, hitting Wally West in the head with a giant hammer.
Yet Harley Quinn is convinced that Booster Gold committed the crime (and Booster is sure that she did it).
She’s definitely got some explaining to do if her scene with Poison Ivy was accurate. Ivy said Harley wasn’t supposed to be at Sanctuary, and in fact, she shouldn’t even know where the place is.
So how did she find out? And how did she get past security and crash the party?
Harley’s guilt might also explain the chattering teeth that were left as a clue in Commander Steel’s throat (since she’s linked to the Joker, who could also be involved). And Harley’s use of “puddin’” could be connected to the use of “puddler?”
That said, it’s unlikely that the first suspect in Heroes in Crisis is the killer. And future solicitations imply both Harley and Booster are innocent (and fans of the characters would like to believe that’s true).
Booster was already established as having a mental break after his trip through time with Batman last year, so it’s possible he’s gone over the edge.
But most of the same questions that remain about Harley are also applicable to Booster. He’s convinced that Harley committed the killings, he’s been revealed a little too early to be the story’s murderer, and a solicitation for a future issue seems to clear him.
He also appeared to be making progress on working through his issues when readers saw a depiction of his time at Sanctuary.
On the final page of Heroes in Crisis #3, nine separate characters were featured in one panel each, showing just a snippet of their confessions at Sanctuary. Included were Commander Steel, Gunfire, Tattooed Man, Gnaark, Red Devil, Protector, Poison Ivy, Solstice and Nemesis.
That last one — Nemesis — is important to notice, because although he hasn’t been confirmed among the dead (nor have several of these characters), this panel means he was there at Sanctuary at some point, knows where the treatment center is located, and might have even been there the day of the murders.
And Nemesis has an ability that makes him a prime suspect. It’s been established that Nemesis is a master of disguise, able to look like anyone. If Harley Quinn really did hit Wally with a hammer, as the story has shown, it might have actually been someone who has the ability to look like Harley Quinn. And that somebody could be Nemesis.
Nemesis also has ties to the government and has experience working on undercover missions, having been part of the Suicide Squad for some time.
Although this one-panel reveal might just be a red herring, but Tom King including him on the final page — in the final panel — had to be on purpose. Even if the perpetrator isn’t Nemesis, Tom King probably wants us to think it could be.
After Booster Gold flew away from the murder scene at Sanctuary, and after his fight with Harley Quinn ended, Skeets showed up in issue #2, stating that Booster sent him an emergency signal.
That might be true, but the last time readers saw Booster’s flying robotic friend from the future, Skeets was revealed by King to be a villain in cahoots with Bane.
According to an image in Batman #50, Skeets is one of several characters working secretly with Bane to negatively manipulate Batman.
Batman has also maintained that patient confessions were not recorded, yet the apparent killer is releasing recordings to The Daily Planet, meaning (if Batman can believed) the perpetrator would have to possess technical abilities — right up Skeets’ alley.
Skeets would have the ability to shut off Booster’s shield technology to help the murders take place. And if Skeets is teaming with the other villains revealed in Batman #50 (including Psycho Pirate, who can manipulate emotions), it might explain some other evidence.
Then again, if we’re suspecting technology…
Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman created Sanctuary using Kryptonian technology combined with Amazonian mysticism. Perhaps this combination proved lethal, as the high-tech yet compassionate software abandoned its programming.
The system had three entitiesprogrammed into the system that mimicked human beings Jonathan Kent, Martha Kent and Lana Lang. This duality of the system might explain the plural tense used by “The Puddlers,” which is the signature being used by whoever is sending Lois Lane thumb drives with videos of heroes’ “confession” treatment sessions from Sanctuary.
The first thumb drive (delivered in Heroes in Crisis #2) had an attached note that said, “Our heroes hide themselves from us. From Sanctuary. Here is the truth. More truths will be coming.” Because it said “from us” and then says “from Sanctuary,” it implies that the “us” might be the same as “Sanctuary.”
After all, this wouldn’t be the first time Batman has constructed an AI that went rogue…
It’s possible that the A.I. from Sanctuary, whose security appears to have been programmed by Batman, could be somehow connected to Brother Eye (or maybe is Brother Eye)?
Batman created the previous iterations of Brother Eye, which all went crazy and tried to take over the world.
King made it a point to show that Batman is lying to the Trinity (when his lie about the Kryptonite in his belt was exposed), so it’s probable that the rogue A.I. could also be something Batman is covering up. And if Batman had Brother Eye recording the confessions, it would explain how they’re now being released to The Daily Planet.
There’s also been a lot of reference to the masks that the patients in Sanctuary. It might be foreshadowing some type of robotic or metallic face that’s behind the crime.
Among the DC characters with the power to control minds (there are quite a few), one of the best possibilities of inclusion in a Justice League-centered story is Maxwell Lord.
Lord is already established in the Rebirth DCU, having gone toe-to-toe with Amanda Waller and the Suicide Squad in 2017. He even came up against the Justice League, establishing that he definitely has the power to control the minds of the superpowered characters of the DCU.
Lord was locked in prison at the end of his Suicide Squad story. But in comic books, that’s not really very limiting. He’s attached to the Squad, so that might explain how Harley knew Sanctuary’s location.
And Lord’s involvement might also explain why Booster Gold was spared, since the two share a history.
All of Them
The theory behind this suspect goes, what if they were all brainwashed or mind-controlled (see above) to participate in the killing of each other?
This would explain a lot of the various (yet confusing) clues so far. For example, Lagoon Boy was killed by a projectile (which would implicate Arsenal), but Flash was allegedly killed by a hammer. Lagoon Boy was laughing, and nobody seemed to use their powers to defend themselves, which might both be side effects of mind control.
This would also explain the differences in the memories of Harley and Booster, as well as the discrepancies in the ways the murders have been depicted (sometimes the bodies are outside; sometimes they’re on the porch; sometimes the costumes are torn, sometimes they aren’t).
So maybe everybody participated? And only Harley and Booster escaped?