Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen #2 – James Tynion IV, Writer; Steve Epting, Javier Fernandez, Artists; Nick Filardi, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen #2, the second chapter of James Tynion IV’s mini-event tying in with Year of the Villain ups the action, as Apex Lex finally faces off against the Infected. You’d think that five A-list heroes including a Kryptonian and an Amazon would easily be able to handle Lex, but Tynion does a great job of showing what makes Luthor so dangerous in this scene. Sure, he has Martian superpowers now, but his deadliest weapon is his mind. Between a surprise powersuit and several clever tactics that get under the skin of the five Infected, this is one of the most effective fight scenes in a while. Sure, it’s mostly a standstill, but Luthor gets away to hunt down the Batman Who Laughs.
As for that always-creepy villain, he’s revealed to be hiding one of the most powerful characters in the DCU in his lair. This story seems to be pulling in sci-fi, magic, and horror elements of the DCU into one explosive story.
On the run and seeking to stay ahead of his enemy, Luthor seeks out one of his oldest allies – Mercy Graves, now broke and having a hard time getting any job interviews on account of her last boss turning into a monster and threatening the President. The dialogue between them is one of the highlights of the issue, and feels oddly Bendis-esque in places. But seeing her back in DC Comics is always welcome.
The ending of the issue has Luthor infiltrating the Justice League HQ to get a DNA sample from Commissioner Gordon, but there’s a great last act twist that expands the threat of the Infected into a possibly world-threatening affair. For an event comic, this series has been surprisingly low-key at times. But as a slowly building horror story, it makes a great companion piece to the bigger-scale Year of the Villain books and does both its lead rogues justice as they head towards a violent clash.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.