Team Bane all the way!
Now that our eyes have readjusted from the 3D villain’s month covers we didn’t get, our focus can shift to the payoffs for Forever Evil. Most of the Villain’s month/ Forever Evil tie-in books that dealt with leading up to Arkham War failed to get past first base in terms of sparking interest. Lucky for them Peter Tomasi is here to bat clean up.
Written by Tomasi, Forever Evil: Arkham War deals with the Arkham Asylum breakout and Blackgate invasion orchestrated by the Crime Syndicate in the pages of Forever Evil 1. Gotham has been divided among Batman’s rogue gallery and is transformed into hell on earth. Surprise surprise though, these inherently evil people can’t seem to share. With the Batman nowhere in sight, Bane makes his move to stronghold Gotham City from the Scarecrow, Riddler, and the Penguin.
Arkham War’s first issue could have been utterly boring because we already saw the most exciting parts, the prison breaks, two months ago in Forever Evil which leaves this issue with mostly setup. Tomasi managed to craft the beginnings of an epic game of Risk with Bane building his army of Blackgate inmates along with the Talons he finds in the prison’s freezer. There is a lot of great tactical pacing in this story that makes good use of intense character interaction moments between the bat-villains. They all secretly hate each other and we feel it as they grimace their teeth talking to each other.
Scot Eaton’s art dues are decent but feel unbalanced in some of the characters. He draws a ferocious bane that hasn’t been this good since his venom pumping in Knightfall, but then we see Cobblepot with these oversized hands that you can’t believe fit in normal pant’s pockets. One of the best things between the pages is the color work of Andrew Dalhouse, it’s a perfect blend of coloring to the lighting of a scene while still conveying intense mood. The color pallets in a pleasing way; most books with that many shifts can feel jarring but here it’s downright commendable.
In the end the biggest thing to complain about this issue was that didn’t set up Commissioner Gordon to have a bigger role in the story, which if you aren’t going to have Batman (at least for a few months) needs to happen. Forever Evil: Arkham War was one of the tie-in books we were least looking forward to but with the quality of it’s opening shot we’re definitely sticking around to see what happens. Let’s hope next week’s Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion can match it.