Comic book artist Ryan Sook used stories from past issues of superhero comics as inspiration for the first three variant covers of the new DC Comics series Heroes in Crisis. He focused on some of the root causes of trauma in the lives of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.
The Death of Superman
The original comic book of 1992 that featured Superman’s death was the best-selling issue of that year and one of the most significant moments in pop culture history. Superman battled the nigh-invincible Doomsday across Metropolis, finishing outside the Daily Planet, where they delivered their final blows. In this iconic scene, Lois Lane cradles the fatally wounded Superman in her arms.
Batman’s Spinal Fracture
Unlike Wonder Woman and Superman, Batman has no superpowers. As a result, he has suffered many excruciating injuries over the years, the most famous at the hands of Bane—who was henceforth known as “the man who broke the Bat.” The imagery is classic: Bane holds a limp Batman over his knee and delivers a blow with a sickening “KRAKT.” The incident didn’t just injure Batman; it broke his spirit. The story was adapted into the 2012 movie The Dark Knight Rises.
Wonder Woman: Executioner
“Kill me,” says villain Maxwell Lord, bound by Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth. The image of Wonder Woman executing Lord reverberated throughout the DC Universe in 2005, causing tension between allies Batman and Superman and sowing doubt about the role of superheroes in society. Although the killing was justified, it also haunted Wonder Woman.—a.k.