Hell Arisen #4
It's time for the big showdown: Apex Lex and his army of villains versus the Batman Who Laughs and his army of infected heroes!
Who wins? Who loses? Are there any possible twists left that could shift the balance of power?!
We’re here at last: the end of Hell Arisen, which stems from Scott Snyder’s epic 39-issue (plus one annual) Justice League run, which spun out of Justice League: No Justice, which was the sequel to Dark Knights: Metal…
Wait, what? There’s more to come in this story in the form of Dark Knights: Death Metal?
Fans at this point are understandably a little frustrated with how long Snyder’s Justice League/DCU/Dark Multiverse epic is taking to play out, so with the end finally (and, ahem, presumably) in sight with May’s Death Metal, there’ s a lot riding on Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen #4. Not only does this issue have to serve as a conclusion to this particular arc, it also has to serve as a preamble to Death Metal. After all this time (the original Metal was in all the way back in the innocent, halcyon days of 2017), fans are chomping at the bit for some sort of closure to this long-winded story if for no other reason than for it to finally just be done. With all that in mind, are the creative team of James Tynion IV, Steve Epting, and Nick Filardi up to the task?
Hell, yes they are.
Hell Arisen #4 hits the ground running with a quiet but essential prelude wherein Lex explains his actions – supplicating to Perpetua, becoming both more and less than human – are justified and not, in fact, a rejection of all he’s ever stood for. From that flashback, the battle between the forces of Lex and the Batman Who Laughs collide right away, although the true battle is between the two armies’ generals. The Batman Who Laughs finally gets a much-deserved comeuppance, and Lex, by gods, proves beyond a doubt that he’s the smartest man on the planet (sorry, Batman). There’s resolution to the Infected subplot (which hopefully catches up with Hawkman sooner rather than later), and a vastly-overexposed, leather-clad villain is brought low. Or is he? Tynion has one last trick up his sleeve, one that not only serves to set the final stage for Death Metal but also exposes Lex for the Icarus he is. It’s not a completely unforeseen turn of events, given how much storytelling capital DC has burned foisting the BWL into as many comics as possible in the last three years, but it’s still a hell of a kick in the assumptions.
Like I said above, it’s also an Icarus moment for Lex Luthor, who flew too close to the sun that is Perpetua but ultimately was betrayed by his own inflated ego and sense of grandiosity. In the end, no matter what his circumstances, Lex is his own worst enemy. Countless antagonists have told him this over the years, but he’s incapable of listening. Even when he’s trying to do good – see his brief heroic stint in Action Comics circa 2016 – his motives are always self-interested. It’s who he is, his fatal flaw, the lone crack in his armor. This time, though, the entirety of reality may pay the price for his ambitions.
Steve Epting absolutely crushes it on the art this issue, pacing each page flawlessly. Each beat of the story lands exactly as intended, the flow of the panels accelerating or decelerating the story as the needs of the story dictate. As noted in my review of issue one, I was a little nervous that Epting – long removed from superhero fare and firmly ensconced in the real-world, down to earth affairs of books like Velvet – might not be the right artist for this comic, talented though he may be. Fortunately, I was utterly wrong to be concerned. After last issue’s art being split between Epting and another artist resulted in an uneven affair, Epting and Filardi explode off the page here, bringing every panel to life with urgency and flair. Even if you don’t care about the Dark Multiverse, the BWL, Perpetua, or any of it, detractors will find it very difficult indeed to argue with the quality of the art.
The last step on the road to Death Metal is here at last! Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen #4 ramps up the stakes in every conceivable way, hitting a home run on all fronts. DO NOT MISS THIS COMIC!
Year of the Villian: Hell Arisen #4 (of 4): The Gang’s All Here
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 8.5/108.5/10
Art - 10/1010/10
Color - 10/1010/10
Cover Art - 8.5/108.5/10
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