Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen #3 – James Tynion IV, Writer; Steve Epting, Javier Fernandez, Artists; Nick Filardi, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen, a mini-event comic, holds a strange place in the DCU’s big meta-story. Apex Lex vs. the Batman who Laughs is a major event, but we also know it’s not going to resolve much – both villains are headed on for bigger storylines this year. But that doesn’t mean that James Tynion can’t make this a hell of an entertaining read in Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen #3.
When we last left off, Luthor had been ambushed in the Hall of Justice by a mob of Infected Titans, all of whom now served the Batman who Laughs. Overwhelmed, he seemed done for – until he gets an unexpected assist from a machine-gun toting Joker. This is perfectly in character for Joker – despite his insanity, he plays by his own set of inscrutable rules, and he’s not about to let any Batman win. So Luthor finds himself in a bizarre carnival hideout, complete with other captured villains, as Joker quickly switches from helping him to being ready to kill him.
This title is likely to be a hot item on the stands, because it’s the second (and first full-body appearance) of the hottest new character in comics, Punchline. I don’t get the hype so far, because she doesn’t actually say anything here. She’s just an evil clown character so far, but Tynion seems to have a big plan for her.
Far more interesting is the mental battle of wills between Joker and Luthor, as the unpredictable terrain of Joker’s mind faces off against a powerful psychic in Apex Lex. Ultimately, Luthor winds up with what he needs to mount a counter-attack on his nemesis – complete with an army of villains who remain loyal to him. This feels like the culmination of a year of stories that upgraded great villains like Captain Cold and Black Manta (and Oracle, who didn’t quite land how DC was hoping). This has been a tight series, and it seems likely the conclusion will be a thrill ride.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.