Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen #1 – James Tynion IV, Writer; Steve Epting, Artist; Nick Filardi, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: DC has become a master of telling multiple events at the same time. Unlike the competition, where it’s common to have 10-30 tie-ins to a single event in a month, DC keeps their events tight and focused, with a main mini and maybe one or two tie-ins a week at most. That allows them to run multiple epic stories at the fringes of each other, and now another one, Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen, has entered the fray.
Spinning out of Justice League and Batman/Superman, it’s time for the DCU’s two biggest villains to face off. The Batman Who Laughs has successful converted six of his rivals’ allies to evil, while Lex Luthor has ascended to demigodhood at the side of Perpetua. An opening segment shows the gambit between them, why Luthor allowed the Batman who Laughs to live shortly after Dark Nights: Metal, and where they are now. Luthor is patrolling the multiverse, and an audience with the evil League of Earth-3 shows how Perpetua is slowly converting one world after another into experiments for her Apex soldiers.
There’s just one problem for Perpetua’s master plan – the presence of Dark Multiverse energy interrupts her conversion process, and she needs the last remnants hunted down. She deputizes Luthor to Earth with a contingent of soldiers, but it’s clear that there’s growing tension between the two of them. The Batman Who Laughs, meanwhile, has captured a major figure from DC time travel to taunt him as his war on Earth enters a critical phase.
The last part of the issue is essentially a cat-and-mouse game as Luthor hunts his enemy only to realize he’s being hunted himself. There isn’t all that much action in this first issue and a lot of setup, but Steve Epting does some great, tense, dark artwork that suits it perfectly. For a four issue miniseries, I might have wanted the main story to move a little faster in the first issue. But Tynion writes the Batman who Laughs like few others, and it feels like this has been a showdown years in the making. My money’s on the bad guy with the Bat-brain.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.