Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen #1 Review

The Quick and the Dead

Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Steve Epting, Nick Filardi, and Travis Lanham
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: December 18, 2019

This whole Year of the Villian has been anything but "must-read" in my mind, but the biggest problem is that it just doesn't feel like a coherent whole overall.  Sure, we know that Lex presented some offers to sway Earth towards doom, but some of the offers were pretty sketchy, and if you are like me, you've been waiting for that monkey paw reveal to screw everyone over.  I am hoping that Hell Arisen is the straw that stirs this whole Year of the Villain drink and James Tynion is certainly capable of making me care.  Does he start right here?  Let's find out...

The issue opens a year ago and sets up Lex versus The Batman Who Laughs right off the bat (pun kind of intended).  Lex is the Smartest Man on Earth, but the BWL may be the most persuasive guy in the Multiverse (Dark or otherwise) and while I was praying for Lex to open fire on him, we know that isn't happening here...yet.  It's a good opening that gets everyone up to speed on how these two baddies feel about each other and away we go.

We then rocket off to Earth-3 and for a bunch of dead villains, these Crime Syndicate jerks are certainly popping up all over the place!  I know that comic book characters (like celluloid heroes) never die and am all for getting on with things after an explanation, but I need more than "the Multiverse heals itself".  That's the kind of thing that just takes away any tension or real stakes from a story.  Oh well, the best I can do to not get caught up in the avalanche of continuity nonsense that is going on at DC right now is dock my score a bit here and then consider it a clean slate and move on.  

Like I said, we are on Earth-3 and Ultraman is pumping up the crowd in Centropolis like he's Flava Flav circa 1990...Yeah Boy!!!  He lets the rest of the Crime Syndicate now what's what and it's pretty much set up as a (re)introduction of the team.  The gangs all there and Superwoman is throwing shade at Owlman and it seems as if Johnny Quick and Harold Jordan have switched places since we last saw them.  Johnny is all nervous and scared while Power Ring is chillin' like Bob Dylan.  It all seems way off and since we get a half explanation of their resurrection, I am not holding my breath over how Harold has his ring back...though I am interested if it is still what it was before Forever Evil.

That's when Lex shows up and escorts them to the Godhead and Perpetua tells them the what's what... Earth-3 is theirs to rule, but now it's full of Apex Predators and Perpetua has tasked Ultraman and company with making them better.  Remember, "better" here means making them into awful, awful creatures.  I said "company", but that number goes down by one by the end of the scene.  Oh no!!!!  Wait, the Multiverse always fixes itself so it probably doesn't matter.

We continue with Lex name dropping Earth-10, an editors note that spoils the shit out of the next month's Justice League #39 and the tie-in to get us back to Lex versus the Batman Who Laughs.  After one last mystery with Lex, it's off to see that the BWL has time on his side and is expecting everything that is coming for him.  The issue ends by tying into the Infected story and after a huh? moment involving Lex's new powers, we get a cliffhanger that does not look good for him at all.

There are a lot of things thrown at the reader here and while we might end up in a better place because of them, I need some sort of thought out explanation for them.  Besides that, this is a typical #1 that sets up the characters and gets them into place for a royal rumble, but that's going to have to wait until at least the next issue.  While I would have liked some more detailed backgrounds in the art, Steve Epting does a good job and kudos to the colors by Nick Filardi.

Bits and Pieces:

James Tynion sets up the big Year of the Villain finale and while I like where it is going, it is odd that so many pieces have to be forced in to get there.  Some really big things just happen with little or no explanation and while that may come down the line, it's nowhere to be found here.  Once you get past that, however, the interactions between Lex and the Batman Who Laughs are good enough to keep me coming back for more.



  1. What gets me is this obviously takes place after JL 39 which hasn't come out yet. Why would they release this first?

    1. It is ridiculous! I hate when they do that and really, just wait a couple of weeks!