Paved with Good Intentions: How HEROES IN CRISIS Betrays Trauma Victims

trigger warning: sexual abuse, suicidal ideation

I have a right to be angry.

Through middle and high school, comics were pretty much the only thing I had to keep me going without having a total breakdown. I mean, of course I had other interests and I still do. I could never survive on comics alone.

I didn’t really have any friends I could rely on or talk to about my problems, in real life or online. I had a bad experience in grade school that left me uncomfortable with talking to people over the internet until after I got out of high school. I at least was lucky enough to be attending high school a block away from a comic shop, so I could now buy issues on a regular basis instead of the odd back issue here and there over the internet. It was after 12th grade graduation I finally began to make REAL friends through both online message boards and at conventions.

Comics didn’t just keep me going, they helped me find the people who HAVE been able to help me and see me as an individual worth knowing. I met my very first best friend in the whole world through DeviantArt by commenting on the pages she colored for DC and Zenescope. Reading Stuck Rubber Baby helped me realize and be honest about the fact that I’m queer, and it was through commissioning comic artists I’ve become more comfortable about exploring my sexuality.

It’s cheesy and stupid I know, but the presence of comics in my life has helped me a great deal. I want to professionally write comics someday as a way to pay some of that back to those who’ve helped me and try to make the world a better place.

Cover art by Mark Brooks

I buy a little bit of everything, but I’m mainly focused on DC Comics. The Titans, the Legion of Super-Heroes, the Doom Patrol, and the Justice Society are my main favorite teams. Tell me to pick a Flash, I’ll choose Wally West or Jay Garrick. Tell me to pick a Green Lantern, I’d pick Alan Scott or Kyle Rayner. Batgirl? Betty Kane. Robin? Rochelle Wayne. Supergirl? Earth-Angel.

So, suffice to say I really haven’t been happy with most of what DC’s done in the last decade. I’ve been especially vocal about my dislike for “Rise of Arsenal,” Eric Wallace and Fabrizio Fiorentino’s run on Titans, and pretty much EVERYTHING Scott Lobdell has worked on: Red Hood and the Outlaws, Teen Titans, and Nightwing especially. Like a lot of people, I thought “DC Rebirth” back in 2016 was a step in the right direction because they were finally going to clean up the mess editorial made with the New 52 initiative.

Heroes in Crisis proved me and a lot of other people wrong, and now I feel supporting Rebirth was a mistake if this was going to be the end game.

But, as a person struggling with depression and PTSD, this book really did offend me on a whole different level compared to anything those other books have done.

The premise? Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman have set up a place called Sanctuary where heroes can receive counseling for their respective problems and get help. Sounds like a great idea. And then the first issue opens with the reveal that every patient — save for Booster Gold and Harley Quinn — have been gruesomely murdered. Booster thinks Harley did it. Harley thinks Booster did it. And it only gets worse from there.

First: Sanctuary doesn’t have any doctors or therapists. It relies on a computer program containing the supposed best traits of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. None of whom are trained or licensed psychologists.

Second: The patients are kept isolated from one another and put in virtual reality chambers where they relive their respective traumas over and over again as a way to confront them.

Third: There doesn’t seem to be any real security except for a couple of robots and anyone can just walk in. Which means Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman haven’t really been monitoring the place until AFTER the massacre.

Interior art by Clay Mann

What followed was eight issues of a supposed murder mystery that wasn’t a mystery at all. The Trinity do almost nothing to figure out who was responsible for this, while Lois Lane is given files with all the Sanctuary interviews and instructions to publish them. Which she does, leaking hundreds of secrets that were meant to be private even if she obscures their real names. The only person Lois discusses this with is Superman, and Superman doesn’t even tell Batman and Wonder Woman until AFTER the story is published for the sake of an incredibly hamfisted Watchmen reference. The investigation falls down to Booster and Harley, who recruit Blue Beetle and Batgirl to help them.

After Booster and Harley try to kill each other, of course.

It eventually turns out the killer was Wally West, who accidentally unleashed a burst of energy that killed those around him and in a fit of extreme suicidal despair violated the corpses to look like a mystery. He then framed Booster and Harley so he would have enough time to release the Sanctuary files, confess, and then kill himself — thinking it was the only way to atone for what he did. Booster and the others talk Wally out of killing himself. They clone his dead body in the 25th Century so he doesn’t have to die, and Wally turns himself in so Sanctuary can go back to doing what it did before.

This book has problems. LOTS of problems. Racist problems, homophobic problems, ableist problems. This book IS a problem.

Since the first alone was released I hated this comic with every fiber of my being. The writing is stilted and Clay Mann’s artwork is overly sexualized, especially given the subject matter. It’s another event series promising a profound, universe-changing story that only hands out cheap shock value deaths for the sake of driving up sales by garnering phony controversy under the pretense of being “edgy.”

The premise alone is problematic, that this Sanctuary place was supposed to be a place of healing and is anything but. The DC Trinity made no attempt to get real doctors to help them provide care for their comrades and friends, delegating everything to a condescending computer that’s supposed to have their best qualities — and assuming THAT is a decent substitute for qualified psychiatrists and therapists.

The very idea Superman and Wonder Woman could be so arrogant and conceited to think they could stand in for actual doctors betrays everything the characters stand for and is nothing short of appalling. Not even Batman on his worse days is so horrible.

Interior art by Clay Mann

The potential argument that they wanted to protect everyone’s secret identities doesn’t hold, since there’s no reason why there couldn’t be heroes out there with degrees in psychiatry. Aside from Batman’s ally Leslie Thompkins, Paul Dini and Stephane Roux’s Zatanna series had a reoccurring therapist character whose office was a safe space for heroes AND villains. Where was she in all this?

Then there are the VR chambers, which are only really used for the characters to relive whatever it was that traumatized them over and over again. THIS IS NOT HEALTHY.

Experiencing such pain over and over again. People do that enough inside their heads. It’s explicitly shown in the cases of Wally West and Lagoon Boy that the VR chambers weren’t helping. Lagoon Boy in particular was reliving the Titans East massacre HUNDREDS of times. And there doesn’t seem to be any other use for the VR chambers aside from living in fantasy worlds which, again, NOT HEALTHY.

The patients are also isolated and aren’t really sure if anyone else is in Sanctuary with them except the robots. Harley Quinn wasn’t even supposed to be there. The whole reason Wally snapped in the first place is because the computer kept telling him he wasn’t alone, but after weeks there alone he started to think no one else was in Sanctuary. That this was some sort of trap.

So the isolation and keeping identities secret doesn’t help either because the patients are only left with their worst thoughts for company.

This, this neglect. This abuse. In any other book, Sanctuary sounds like a place a group of villains would’ve set up to torture someone. These are almost the exact conditions cults use to brainwash people! Hell, it’s almost exactly how Batman was broken by Deacon Blackfire in Batman: The Cult. These people are kept in solitary confinement with no one but a computer and holograms to talk to, and the computer doesn’t help at all.

I spoke to my own doctor about most of this and she agreed with me on it all, that these practices were dangerous and that this whole thing was poorly thought out. I spoke to her about it a lot — and the fact that my therapist, a licensed professional in psychiatric medicine, agreed that this book is toxic was one of the only things that gave me comfort.

I spoke to my doctor about this a LOT over the nine months Heroes in Crisis was released because with each issue that came out, I felt myself getting more and more worn down. I would dread the last Wednesday of the month knowing the next issue would arrive. And let me tell you this wasn’t the only thing I was talking about in my sessions. But it connected a lot into my past discussions and my therapist respected that. I’m glad to have her in my life, because she’s a consummate professional.

I don’t mean simple fanboy hate like complaining about a new costume or relationship, or not liking a new writer or artist on my favorite title. This comic drained me and struck more than a number of my nerves. The apathy and insensitivity that went into crafting this book reminded me far too much of what I’ve gone through in life and not for the better.

For starters, the way King portrays the problems the characters go through often comes off as a joke, when it clearly wasn’t meant to be. There are multiple confessional sequences where different characters talk about their problems in a nine-panel grid layout featuring the most incredibly stilted dialogue I’ve ever read. There’s no research or care shown in the characters, as their backstories are blatantly ignored and gutted. It feels as if random nonsense is made up and presented as deep and meaningful to the readers who’ve come to know these characters.

The one that bothered me the most was about Roy Harper, in the first issue, in a confessional sequence exactly one page after his bloody corpse is found.

Interior art by Clay Mann

This series took nine issues to misunderstand and destroy Wally West’s character while it only needed one issue for Roy Harper. Granted, DC has a decade-long track record of destroying Roy Harper’s character, ever since they killed off his daughter Lian.

Roy and Lian Harper have been two of my favorite characters for years and I’ve felt I could relate a lot to the struggles Roy’s character has gone through. I don’t mean his past drug addiction. I mean his struggles with depression and abandonment issues, his fight to try and be a better person despite everything he’s gone through. Here we have a guy who probably has a better understand of racism than most white people could ever dream of having, given he was raised in a Native American community.

And yet somehow didn’t become a white savior character. He’s a devoted father who tries to be the best dad he can be for his daughter, who’s probably one of the most well-adjusted and perceptive kids in the DC Universe. Most importantly, he knows he’s not perfect and he’s not trying to be. He just wants to be good, for his sake and the sake of his family. Roy is a complex and multifaceted person who is more than his trauma, and I’ve long admired that.

I’ve wished I could stop beating myself up over my past mistakes and just focus on doing good instead of hating myself for not being perfect. As someone who never really had much support from parents growing up and that feeling of being totally alone despite being surrounded by people, I empathized with the neglect Roy suffered from Green Arrow and the way he was essentially abandoned in “Rise of Arsenal” when he needed help the most.

But is any of that discussed in Heroes in Crisis? The abandonment, the neglect, the two father figures who died, the inferiority complex and depression. Any of that?


All of it gets ignored for the sake of some nonsense about abusing prescription pain meds given to Roy by doctors for his superhero injuries, which is how he got addicted before switching to heroin because it was cheaper and safer. Not because of his depression. Or the abandonment. Or anything else. I’ve seen a number of fans who suffer from chronic pain complain this was ableist and presented people who require daily pain medication as just covert drug addicts.

So you go to a needle. To save your kidneys. And some money. But really, isn’t that what super-heroes do? Save things?

Objectively one of the worst lines I’ve ever read and yet the perfect to cap off draining a character of their depth.

Promotional art by Clay Mann

Oh, and before you say “None of that was in canon anymore” I’m gonna tell you to stop. Because several characters blatantly bring up stuff that wasn’t canon in the New 52 or Rebirth besides Wally, who’s the only person to really have genuine memories of the previous DCU and not the current version revised by Barry Allen and/or Dr. Manhattan. Commander Steel talks about his time in the Detroit Justice League and being dead. Lagoon Boy discusses the Titans East massacre despite that Cyborg still hasn’t been confirmed as ever being a Titan in the current continuity AND would require Supergirl to have still dated Power Boy.

It doesn’t stop there. Pretty much every character given a confessional has the problems and ordeals they survived ignored for nonsense that never happened — or is so completely out of character, you’d think they’re supposed to be jokes.

Firestorm flatly mentions his head is on fire.

Hal Jordan doesn’t know what “will” is.

Donna Troy wastes an entire page about how people don’t know if the historical Troy was a real place as some clunky metaphor foreshadowing the reveal about Wally, when Troy IS a real place.

Raven talks about how her father, an interdimensional demon who raped her mother and tried to turn Raven into a doomsday weapon, loves her.

Catwoman just meows?

Minor Titan Protector spends a page talking about how he was really addicted to multiple drugs and became an anti-drug crusader because he thought it was funny. That was simply cruel.

Interior art by Clay Mann

I… I’ve spent so long being ashamed of a lot of the abuse I went through and it is still hard for me to talk about it. I was bullied in grade school, but through 6th to 12th grade I was also physically assaulted and both sexually abused and harassed in two different schools by FOUR different people. I get so disgusted with myself whenever I try to tell someone about what happened to me in high school, when I have to figure out a way to say “He tried to stick his finger in my ass” and not think about the people reading or hearing this must be laughing at me, because it’s so pathetic. And then there has been the depression, the PTSD, and sadly, new incidents with coworkers that have brought it all back over and over.

Oh no, I don’t just get to say “I was raped” or anything like that like a normal person. I had to get something different. I had to get stuck in a Family Guy cutaway scene. Or then I think about the crying fit I had after my first day of high school I was so miserable begging my mom to take me out, and she just told me to suck it up.

So this bothers me as a reader, because I frequently fear that my problems are just a joke and that I can’t get anyone to take me seriously when I try to confide in them. And so I see the characters whom I resonate with have their problems degraded and treated as poorly thought out jokes.

Why were some of the characters even at Sanctuary in the first place? To deal with their problems? Even though some of them were already trying to get help before this story ever happened. Roy Harper in particular had his Titans teammate Lilith Clay as his substance abuse counselor, but none of that is mentioned in the lead-up to Heroes in Crisis. The help that Roy was already getting was ignored, and Lilith isn’t even recruited to help with Sanctuary. Roy’s efforts at self improvement were ignored by those around him.

But it’s not as bad as why Wally West was in Sanctuary.

Interior art by Mitch Gerads

In “Flash War,” Wally’s memories of the real DCU return full force and are at odds with his doctored memories. He remembers his twin children Jai and Irey and is told they’re not in the Speed Force but “somewhere.” Wally tries to find them and can’t. Instead of Barry Allen reaching out to the Justice League to help search for his kids, or anyone else with experience in searching dimensions or time travel, Barry and Iris West allow Wally to be taken to Sanctuary to essentially make him shut up about his kids. He’s abandoned by the people he viewed as parents.

This is what leads to Wally’s breakdown. Despite knowing his children are out there, Heroes in Crisis tries to demonize Wally for wanting his family back and it’s used to turn him into a suicidal mass murderer. He’s driven mad with grief when he hacks the Sanctuary computer to see if he really is alone, and is broken by experiencing all that trauma at once. All this because he wanted something that was perfectly rational for him want.

Wally’s trauma is used to dehumanize him.

To further this agenda, the accident that led to the deaths is a retcon itself, about the Speed Force being something all speedsters have to keep contained inside them. This was never mentioned in any Flash comic that preceded this comic — the Speed Force has always been portrayed as an external source of power. This arbitrary change only serves as a quick way to justify how anyone could turn Wally into a murderer.

The dehumanization doesn’t stop there, especially in the case of Poison Ivy. She gets turned into a plot device for Harley Quinn’s sake and they tried to use her bloody corpse for a pin-up cover.

Cover art by Clay Mann

Never forget this was a thing Clay Mann drew and DC was going to use as a cover to sell this book.

After then being treated as Harley’s motivation for most of the series, Ivy’s revived but in such a way she’s lost most of her humanity. She’s become a rip-off of Swamp Thing and her body’s now more plant than human, no longer having nipples or a vagina. She’s been murdered and brought back in a way that will let DC sexualize her to an even greater degree since she’s no longer human. This is supposed to be seen as a GOOD thing because Ivy’s supposedly more powerful now and she’s alive. But that doesn’t change the shameful way she was killed, and how she came to Sanctuary hoping to get help for the awful things that haunt her. And it got her killed.

Ivy’s long been a very complex character herself and many people have looked at her as a strong, interesting, intelligent queer woman who ultimately only wants to save the Earth and be with the woman she loves. But she’s frequently the villain in her stories and often told she doesn’t understand what real love is.

Instead of being recognized for the complex character and inspiration she is, and being allowed to be a hero, Ivy has her trauma used against her as an excuse for her to be sent to die and literally be dehumanized. What does that say to the women who resonate with her? The queer readers? What does that say?

The leaking of the Sanctuary files is also supposed to be seen as good. Wally claims he did it because he thought if people saw someone like him could make a mistake, they’d get help before they did something bad like him. That if they saw their heroes had problems, they’d get help too.

It’s trying to validate a violation of privacy, but instead all these problems are turned into a media sideshow, thanks to Lois and Superman. Then you have Superman who tries to deflect things by delivering some nonsense that likens the heroes of the DCU to the United State military.

Plus, this acts as if Wally wasn’t doing anything to get help when it’s the whole reason he was at Sanctuary. The problem isn’t that he didn’t do anything to help with his trauma, but that the place he went to wasn’t helping him. It’s framed like Wally not understanding therapy takes time, despite the fact that he was clearly growing worse and worse because Sanctuary’s methods were exacerbating his depression and making him feel more alone than ever.

And by the end of the story, Wally’s left to rot in jail. Where’s the help now?

Interior art by Clay Mann

The resolution to stop Wally from killing himself is a workaround without any sense of poignancy. Booster proposes they travel to the future and make a dead clone of Wally to leave at Sanctuary, to complete the time loop so he doesn’t have to die for real. If that logic works, why does no one propose doing it for everyone else who died at Sanctuary? Roy, Ivy, Lagoon Boy, Solstice, Protector, Gnarrk, all of them? They go back, clone everyone, leave the bodies, and the time loop remains intact.

No one had to die.

They could’ve used this to really cement the idea of Wally not being alone and the idea of friends reaching out to friends, but it doesn’t happen. The idea of saving Wally rings false because it feels like they only want him alive so he can be punished — and miserable. Harley has the opportunity to spare the woman she loves from an agonizing, unnecessary death, and she settles for the shadow of Ivy left in her place. They could’ve easily said the plant version of Ivy was a copy like the copies she’s made over the years.

But hey, at least Booster can hang out with Blue Beetle, Harley gets to go on a road trip with Ivy to recover from how they were traumatized at a place that’s supposed to help with trauma, and Wally gets a six-issue mini-series written by a self-admitted sexual harasser in what’s blatantly a move to put the final nail in his coffin. Bros before heroes!

These people went to get help or were sent to get help, and instead they were ignored. They were killed. Their problems turned into jokes and used against them after they died when all they wanted was to be better.

Wanting to get better is not a reason why anyone should have to die. No one deserves to be treated like an afterthought like this.

I think about how this story came to be as an outline that was handed in to the editors, who then chose which characters died and which one was the killer. This series was marketed as an attempt to address PTSD in a meaningful way. Now reflecting on its conception, it’s clear this story was little more than an editorial excuse to try and destroy Wally West’s character as the latest attempt to get rid of him and all the other legacy characters like Roy and Dick Grayson.

A story that could’ve reached out to people with trauma and helped them got hijacked to destroy a character. To use their trauma as a tool to make them do something horrible. To exploit trauma for shock value and dehumanize not just the characters but the people who read these books and identify with the struggles and I hate it.

I hate it. It hurts because so many people care about these characters, and a story that could’ve been uplifting was used to carry out petty hatred.

Interior art by Mitch Gerads

I’ve had trouble sleeping thinking of this comic, laying awake at night before I’d think about how I’m a bad person too, and I deserve to die for what I’ve done. Wishing for it to end. More importantly, there’s this crushing sense of not being able to make things better. This powerlessness to try and change things for the better. Wishing I could do something to make it better and thinking about all the other ways I’ve failed in life. The loved ones and friends who died and I couldn’t help them. The unhappiness in my family. The state of the world.

And then I’d think about how much I hate myself even more because there are more important things to worry about like having a rapist monster in the White House and the fact there are concentration camps in this country with people being rounded up every day.

The week the final issue came out I knew right off it was going to be a train wreck and I was right. A disappointing end to a disappointing story. More feelings of anxiety and self-loathing and a feeling my problems are a joke to be mocked and loathed.

Now that I’ve gotten all that down let me review the many, MANY possible reactions I’ll be receiving so far because of my thoughts on “Heroes in Crisis” and what I tried to do to myself because of the horrible state of mind it left me in.

  1. I’m a loser who needs to stop whining about comics and get a life
  2. I misunderstood the point of the story
  3. I’m just mad my favorite character died
  4. I’m against change
  5. I don’t know what I’m talking about
  6. I’m projecting
  7. I’m a whiny f****t
  8. I’m only complaining because the story’s popular
  9. I want attention
  10. I should commend the story for wanting to talk about PTSD at all
  11. Tom King’s a nice guy so I should cut him some slack
  12. This isn’t the story Tom King wanted to tell and he had good intentions

I am so sick of hearing about good intentions.

Because guess what? My parents had good intentions and my teachers had good intentions and I am still paying for the consequences of them. Good intentions are not a shield you can use to protect yourself or anything else from criticism.

If the people who created Heroes in Crisis had good intentions, they would’ve bothered to do actual research on the characters instead of so easily turning them into jokes. They would’ve done a better job at showing how therapy can actually be of help to people. If they had good intentions they wouldn’t have given us a story all about death and suffering, but trying to pretend it’s about hope. They wouldn’t try to say how good it is the story gained such negative reactions because it got people to think and promise they can do meaningful stories with the character of Wally West.

If you want to talk to me about good intentions, then talk to me about THESE stories. Talk to me about stories that bother to explore trauma and rape and abuse in ways that say to the readers “I see you. I understand what you’ve gone through. You’re stronger than you think you are, and I’m sorry these things happened to you.” In ways that actually matter instead of what Heroes in Crisis gave us.

Let’s talk about The Unstoppable Wasp by Jeremy Whitley and Gurihiru, where main character Nadia Van Dyne has a manic-depressive episode and attacks her friends when they try to intervene.

Let’s talk about how her friend Priya talks Nadia down from committing suicide because Nadia believes everyone would be better off without her ruining their lives. Priya tells Nadia about her brother who committed suicide and the guilt that’s haunted her ever since. Priya explains to Nadia exactly what kind of world Nadia would create if she ended her life, telling Nadia she deserves to live because she is a wonderful person who makes people happy and she deserves to live no matter what her brain is telling her.

Interior art by Gurihiru

Let’s talk about Eternity Girl by Magdalene Visaggio and Sonny Liew, where main character Caroline Sharp is a disfigured immortal superhero who is told by her archenemy the only way Caroline can die is if she destroys all of existence.

Let’s talk about Caroline’s girlfriend Dani, who doesn’t give up on Caroline and convinces her she can build a new world for herself without destroying THE world because she knows Caroline is stronger than her misery and Caroline has the power to choose what she wants to be.

Interior art by Sonny Liew

Let’s talk about Avengers Annual #10 by Chris Claremont and Michael Golden, created in response to the absolutely shameful way the character of Carol Danvers was destroyed in Avengers #200 when she was brainwashed, raped, and eventually abandoned by her friends and teammates. And they treated Carol being taken away by her rapist as if it was the end of a beautiful love story.

Interior art by Michael Golden

Let’s talk about Carol tearing the Avengers a new one as she screams at them over the way they took everything her rapist said at face value and offered her no support when she was terrified by her unknown pregnancy, downplaying her fear in exchange for supporting her freak baby and telling her how great it was she was a mom.

Let’s talk about the Spider-Man and Power Pack Special by Jim Salicrup, Louise Simonson and Jim Mooney, which showed the right ways to address child abuse.

Let’s talk about how Spider-Man helps a young boy find the strength to tell his parents that his babysitter molested him, by relating to the boy how HE was a victim of childhood sexual abuse as well. And how Spider-Man’s able to say to himself thanks to helping that boy that what happened to him wasn’t his fault.

Interior art by Stephen Mooney

Let’s talk about how the Power Pack reach out to their friend who admits her father has been molesting her for years and thinks it’s her fault. How they convince her it was NOT her fault and they get their parents to help.

Interior art by June Brigman

Let’s talk about Rachel Pollack, Linda Medley, and Ted McKeever’s run on Doom Patrol which introduce to us George and Marion, two people who’ve lost their bodies and were reduced to energy wrapped in bandages yet STILL try to live and have fun showing us trauma is not the end of someone’s world.

Interior art by Scot Eaton

Let’s talk about Kate Godwin, a transgender woman who suffered a lot growing up but didn’t let it define her, changed her body to match who she was on the inside, found a community that supported her, and is proud of the woman she is.

Interior art by Linda Medley

Let’s talk about how offended she was when someone tried to make her believe she’d been raped in an effort to give her life meaning.

Interior art by Jamie Tolagson

Finally, let’s talk about Bryan Talbot’s The Tale of One Bad Rat, about Helen Potter, a young girl who spent years being molested by her father before she ran away from home with her pet rat.

Interior art by Bryan Talbot

Let’s talk about the strength Helen gains from the stories by Beatrix Potter, how they inspired her escape from her horrible life the way Beatrix escaped from hers. Let’s talk about the powerful way she finally screams that she did nothing to deserve her father’s abuse and that she has a right to be angry before confronting her dad and rejecting him for the new life she’s made for herself.

So come talk to me about all these stories and ones I haven’t mentioned or don’t know about. You come talk to me about all the good intentions of these stories and compare how the good intentions of Heroes in Crisis should somehow absolve it of criticism. Try to tell me about it and the people who created it and all the ways it horribly failed to do or say ANYTING meaningful or helpful to those with PTSD and tell me to back off because it had good intentions.

No one needs trauma in their life to make it meaningful. Finding happiness after you’ve survived something horrible doesn’t make that something horrible justified or absolve the people who hurt you of their wrongdoing.

We can’t look at stories like Heroes in Crisis and say “Oh it’s okay because in the end it was worth it because it taught us something.” It’s not okay because it didn’t teach us anything. It just pandered to the lowest common denominator and reinforced the stereotypes about therapy and mental health it said it was going to talk against. It is not okay to have your problems mocked and degraded and trivialized, not from the people you care about or total strangers or anyone. No one should be allowed to do that free of criticism or consequence.

I’m angry about all this and I’m gonna be angry for a long time. I’m angry about how damaging this story was and how those who created it refuse to truly acknowledge the damage they caused while claiming it was for a good reason. I’m angry about how this book affected me and how it affected the people I care about and people I don’t even know. And I’m always gonna be angry with myself that I tried to slit open my wrist because of how this book made me feel and affected what I was going through.

I had problems before this story began. I do not blame this story for things that happened to me in the past. I do not blame it for my assault and abuse. But his was a harmful story. People with trauma deserve better. We don’t deserve to keep living in an age where stories like this, that can make us feel like we’re nothing, keep happening. We deserve stories that show us our lives are not defined by our trauma, we are NOT jokes, we are strong, and we deserve to live.

Stories are important to our lives. They can help us get through every day and they can make our problems not seem so bad. They give us the strength to look at the bad parts of our lives and think maybe we can change them. That WE can change for the better. We read about these people and we connect with them. We see things in them we wish to be like or things that are already in us and it can make us feel like we aren’t alone.

Even when stories aren’t enough they can help us find the people who can tell us these things. To help us find people who would care about us, and to care about them so maybe WE can help them.

So no, it’s not just a comic book and I don’t care what the intentions were. I don’t care how truly pathetic it sounds. Heroes in Crisis was made with a promise it would explore PTSD in a meaningful way, and that promise was broken before it was even made.

I have a right to be angry, and so do you.


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