Villain vs Villain as Tynion Raises Hell at DC Comics

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Hell Arisen 2

The fallout from METAL continues as the evolutionarily perfected Lex Luthor serves as a John the Baptist for the goddess Perpetua, paving the way for her conquest of everything. Only one person stands in his path -- The Batman Who Laughs, the evil Joker-fied Batman from the Dark Multiverse. TBWL has spread the dark infection to six heroes, five of whom attack Luthor at his safehouse -- which turns out to be one of his employee's apartments he long ago modified without her knowledge.

Lex is not only outnumbered, but he's up against the powers of Kara Zor-El (Supergirl), King Shazam (Shazam), Deathbringer (Donna Troy), Sky Tyrant (Hawkman), and Scarab (Blue Beetle). Anyone else would give up, but Luthor -- who was already the smartest man alive before his augmentation -- has already defeated all five of them while they were posturing. It's all over except for the actual doing of it, which proves to be simplicity itself.

Luthor's whole reason for allowing the battle to proceed was so that he could obtain blood samples from the infected heroes, in order to effect a cure for the infection and curtail the plans of The Batman Who Laughs. But his samples are all tainted -- kryptonite in Kara's blood, magic in Shazam's, etc. He needs a clean sample, and there's only one place to get one of those -- from the only infected person already captured: Gotham City Police Commissioner, James Gordon, who's being held in a cell at the Hall of Justice.

As Luthor prepares his infiltration, The Batman Who Laughs interrogates a prisoner of his own, someone who has special knowledge about the end of the universe: The Phantom Stranger.

With HELL ARISEN, happening within DC's Year of the Villain event, Tynion presents us with a chess game played out by two grandmasters. Each player is thinking several steps ahead and adjusting those steps as they go along. And when Luthor finds himself pitted against a whole new crew of infected heroes, even he realizes he needs help. Fortunately, he's already sent his emissary to recruit a specialist in both insanity and defeating Batman. Stop me if you've heard this one...

Year of the Villain has offeed up a mixed bag of titles, and the whole Nth Metal, Dark Multiverse (negative-numbered universes where everything went wrong) is more than a bit of a logistical tangle, plotwise. But HELL ARISEN is definitely one of the brighter spots in the event, and worth the investment of both time and money.

Grade: 
4.5 / 5.0