DC Comics' Identity Crisis: The Full Story

This controversial story explores the consequences of actions and the line between hero and villain.

Batman Identity Crisis
DC Comics

Identity Crisis is a 2004 DC Comics miniseries created by Brad Meltzer, Rags Morales, and Michael Bair. It is an eight-issue tale featuring the Justice League of America and its family members and close friends. The book is a murder mystery that explores the ideas of the thin line between hero and villain, betrayal, and death.

The series has been controversial with some readers for the violent rape and murder of popular character Sue Dibney, wife of Ralph Dibney, the Elongated Man. This treatment was seen as another example of “fridging”, a term coined by prolific writer Gail Simone to identify the often-used trope of the girlfriend/wife/female relative or close friend of the superhero meeting an often violent end to motivate the hero to greatness. The term comes from the then-new Green Lantern Kyle Rayner’s girlfriend Alexandra DeWitt being murdered by Major Force and stuffed into a refrigerator.

Alternately, the series is often praised for its attention to comics history and for being an engaging murder mystery. This story references the events of the Silver Age comics Justice League #166-#168 in which five members of the Secret Society of Super-Villains switch bodies with five members of the Justice League of America.

9. The Players, The Premise And The Stage

Batman Identity Crisis
DC Comics / Michael Turner

Identity Crisis took place in the then-present and starred members of the Justice League of America. Members of the Justice Society play significant roles, and practically every hero team in the DC Universe is mentioned or depicted in the artwork. The story centers around the Justice League members that were active in the “Satellite Era.” They were Atom, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Green Arrow, Hawkman and Zatanna, plus the Kyle Rayner Green Lantern and Wally West Flash.

The group, minus Kyle and Wally, are hiding a secret from years ago that involves the violent rape of Sue Dibny by the villain Dr. Light. Light claims that this is just the beginning as he knows all their identities and every loved one that he can torture and murder. The team, along with Hal Jordan's Green Lantern and Barry Allen's Flash, elect to have Zatanna not only wiped Light’s memories but to make him less of a threat.

The team hangs back after Sue’s funeral, while all the other heroes start to search the world for clues because they suspect that the person behind the murder is none other than Light himself. When word that they are after him gets back to Light, he goes looking for protection.


John Wilson has been a comic book and pop culture fan his entire life. He has written for a number of websites on the subject over the years and is especially pleased to be at WhatCulture. John has written two comic books for Last Ember Press Studio and has recently self-published a children's book called "Blue." When not spending far too much time on the internet, John spends time with his lovely wife, Kim, their goofy dog, Tesla, and two very spoiled cats.