Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen #4 – James Tynion IV, Writer; Steve Epting, Artist; Nick Filardi, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Ray: James Tynion IV and Steve Epting have pitted the Batman who Laughs and Apex Lex against each other for a few issues now, but Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen #4, the final issue, is the most satisfying of the miniseries. That’s because the chess game between the two villains takes a few unexpected turns before reaching a devastating finale that sets up a lot of intriguing things for summer.
As the issue opens, Luthor and Mercy are meeting to make their plans before their final assault on the evil Batman. Mercy has been one of Luthor’s most loyal subjects, but she’s always been a bit horrified by what he’s become. She’s an admirer of Luthor the human, not Luthor the alien tyrant, and Lex’s explanation for why he turned his back on everything he claims to represent is excellent. Tynion neatly ties this decision back to the early days of the run and the founding of the Legion of Doom, and even things that happened in the New 52.
But make no mistake, Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen #4 is an action-based issue at its core, and the final showdown between Luthor and the possessed heroes delivers some fantastic twists. Luthor is undeniably the better tactician of the two, and it shows as he manages to not just defeat the Batman Who Laughs but free his soldiers, returning the Infected back to their former selves. I have to say, the potential of these transformations didn’t quite live up to what was promised, especially as some of them like Blue Beetle barely appeared.
But the best part of this issue comes when Luthor takes the dark Batman back to Perpetua, hoping for his mistress to destroy the villain once and for all. Instead, what happens is one of the most intense and dramatic scenes I’ve read in a comic in a while. Minimal action in this scene, but massive developments that will affect the DCU for a while to come. It’s exactly how you do a self-contained mini-event comic that counts.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.