Thanks to recent revelations, new clues and suspects have emerged in the mystery about who carried out the mass murder at Sanctuary in Heroes in Crisis.
The limited series by writer Tom King and various artists that launched last year has revealed a variety of clues, but even the best detectives in the story are having difficulty pinning the murders on one DC character.
Heroes in Crisis centers around Sanctuary, a mental health treatment center where heroes (and villains) in the DCU can heal from traumatic experiences. As the story began, there was a 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 what new clues have emerged in the investigation? What have readers been shown within this limited series (and in other titles) that might point toward one character or another? Newsarama takes a look at the most likely suspects so far.
In the tie-in crossover event, “The Price,” Batman and the Flash have been pursuing Gotham Girl, who’s gone rogue and seems to be working with Bane.
At one point in the story, Barry Allen found a mask from Sanctuary. The mask was located in a laboratory where Gotham Girl had led Batman and the Flash, and where a strange Venom-based serum was being used to reanimate dead people.
When the mask was found, the Flash angrily asked Batman if Gotham Girl ever went to Sanctuary. Although Batman denied it, he didn’t seem exactly up-front about it. “I swear to you, I have no idea how she got that mask or what her plan is!” Batman said to Barry in this week’s Batman issue.
The current “Price” crossover also implies that someone is trying to use the Sanctuary murders to cause conflict between Barry and Bruce.
And it’s working.
If Gotham Girl went to Sanctuary, she’s certainly powerful enough to have caused the murders. But she doesn’t seem like they type to orchestrate such a scheme on her one.
Now that “The Price” has revealed a Sanctuary mask in the lab where Venom is being used, it makes Bane a likely suspect in the Sanctuary murders.
King is already writing about Bane orchestrating a grand scheme against Bruce Wayne in his ongoing Batman title. And it was established that he had a slew of heroes and villains working on his side to carry out his plan against Batman.
Even though the killer is allegedly caught in issue Heroes in Crisis #7 (according to solicitations), the copy for Heroes in Crisis #9 talks about the “mind behind” the murders as if it’s someone else.
Could the murders have been perpetrated by one killer, but the “mind” behind it be another? And wouldn’t Bane, who is trying to destroy Batman’s life, be a prime suspect, if that was the case?
The solicitation for Heroes in Crisis #9, released this week by DC, seems to clear Harley of willing participation in the scheme: “The mind behind [the murders at Sanctuary] is one the heroes never expected.”
Never expected? That seems to rule out Harley. After all, Harley has been a suspect from the beginning.
For now, she appears to be guilty - in a recent issue, readers were shown Harley actually 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).
There’s also some confusion about what she was doing at Sanctuary. Poison Ivy said Harley wasn’t supposed to be at Sanctuary and shouldn’t even know where it is. Yet Harley was later shown participating in her own “confession,” so she was possibly a patient without Ivy’s knowledge.
Harley also seems like a killer who might leave chattering teeth in Commander Steel’s throat (since she’s linked to the Joker, who could also be involved). The chattering teeth toy was one of the first clues found by Batman.
Booster is also potentially cleared by the solicitation about the mastermind of the attack being someone unexpected. Booster too has been a suspect since the beginning of the series.
However, a recent clue about Wally West’s body being from the future means Booster is a prime suspect, since he’s one of the DCU’s best-known time travelers.
It was also established last year that Booster had a mental break after his trip through time with Batman. And the solicitation for Heroes in Crisis #8 specifically says that the killer was a hero that was “driven to the brink” and was a “savior turned into a murderer.”
Of course, Booster is convinced that Harley committed the killings, and just like Harley, he’s been revealed a little too early to be the story’s murderer. But the fact that his sidekick Skeets has been linked with villains means there’s potential for some type of mind control or manipulative shenanigans with Booster.
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.
Skeets has some explaining to do, and not because he spilled to Harley Quinn (in a recent issue of Heroes in Crisis) about the whereabouts of his buddy Booster.
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
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.
From the clues provided in upcoming solicitations for Heroes in Crisis, the Sanctuary A.I. is probably the leading suspect.
The copy for Heroes in Crisis #7 says, “Now Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman must face off with their own creation - and face the consequences for what they created.”
And the solicitation for issue #8 says: “Sanctuary has become something [the Trinity] never imagined, and it’s still potentially carrying on without them.”
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 entities programmed 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 is 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 Suicide 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 the patients at Sanctuary were all brainwashed or mind-controled 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.
Plus, nobody seemed to use their powers to defend themselves, which might be a side effect 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 somehow escaped?
The story continues February 27 with Heroes in Crisis #6.