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Heroes in Crisis: Impostors

Heroes in Crisis: Impostors

By Meg Downey Monday, April 29th, 2019

HEROES IN CRISIS is a miniseries that asks an essential question—what is the mental toll of being a superhero? In this series of columns, Meg Downey breaks down each new issue, examining the events and themes, and discussing what it all means for our favorite heroes and villains.

One of the things I appreciate most about Heroes in Crisis is the way it's somehow completely unexpected and completely relatable all at the same time. This may come as a shock, but I'm not a superhero. I'll definitely never be one. I don't have any powers or the physical fortitude to even try, also I'm really scared of heights, so, y'know… But I can say without a doubt that I've been in Wally West's exact position here.

Okay, no, not in the sense that I've been to a top-secret therapy facility or that I've struggled with my awareness of a different timeline, but I have, on more than one occasion, convinced myself that the people around me were just humoring me all along. You probably have too—impostor syndrome is a pretty common thing for most people, even us civilians. But when we talk about it, it's usually in relation to our jobs, or earning something we don't think we deserve. Not about less concrete things like mental health.

But it definitely applies there, too. And as Wally realized this week in Heroes in Crisis #8, it can be a slippery slope to slide down.

It doesn't take much to start. The itchy sensation that something isn't right. The feeling of being alone, even in a crowded room. Being stuck in your head with no way out and no real barometer with which to judge the actions of the people around you. Are they lying? Did you trick them? Have you been the problem this whole time and just not realized it? Is everyone just humoring you?

It can be like an avalanche. It can make you do and say crazy things, self-sabotage in crazy ways. Or, if you're someone like Wally West, it can make you hatch an elaborate scheme to break yourself out of the delusion you've made for yourself. Travel through time, stage murders, frame people—things that only someone with the Speed Force on their side can do.

Wally says he lost control, and I believe him. Like I said, I'm not a superhero and I don't have any powers, but I know that feeling and what it can do. I know how destructive it can feel, even for a totally normal, regular human with no super speed to speak of. I don't think Wally is a bad guy, but I do think he needs more help than what Sanctuary was able to give him. And I do think he's made some extremely bad decisions that will follow him around for a while.

He says he's had five days to do good—enough good to at least measure up to the bad. But I don't know if that's going to be enough.

There's a lot to process here, and even more to digest after the fact. These are dark times for heroes who are, ostensibly, supposed to represent hope, but they're not unwarranted. Even difficult stories are worth telling, and this is the difficult story Wally needs right now to move forward and shake off the yoke that's been around his shoulders since Rebirth officially started.

It's rough, and it's likely going to get even tougher for Wally before it gets better, but sometimes that's just part of it too. After all, we've got one more issue left and one more chance to hear what Wally, Booster and Harley have to say when this is all over. We'd probably do well to listen and think about it, even if it's a tricky thing to do.

Unfortunately, I won't be there to help talk through the final issue, which maybe is a little perfect, given the whole vibe of this book. I've accepted a new full-time job and will be winding down my contributions to the DC site, so sadly this series of columns is going to be cut a bit short. But thank you so much for coming along on this journey with me and giving me the chance to work through some of the harder parts with all of you. It's been an absolute pleasure and I can't wait to see how this one ends.

Heroes in Crisis #8 by Tom King, Mitch Gerads and Travis Moore is now available in print and as a digital download.

Meg Downey covers movies, TV and comics for, and writes two monthly columns for the site"Gotham Gazette" and "Relationship Roundup." You can follow her on Twitter at @rustypolished.