Ignore the cover. This isn’t about an explosive confrontation between Luthor and Batman, it’s something much more. After one chapter showing us the cataclysm and two chapters detailing who the players are, Chapter 4 “Hide and Seek” sets all the pieces in motion so that it finally feels like we’re getting somewhere. Not only that, it manages to reference moments and characters from the various Justice League tie-ins so that faithful readers who picked up all those other books are rewarded.

We begin with Batman bringing Catwoman to the batcave for the very first time in the New 52, a pretty important moment in their relationship ruined by the fact that Selina still can’t recognize Bruce despite the fact that half the cowl has been torn away. Oh well, if we suspend our belief enough and ignore that bit what we have is a pretty nice scene that features a great 2-page spread of the Batcave by David Finch, a nod to Zero Year, and a call back to events leading up to Trinity War where Batman’s secret “How to ****-Up My Friends” arsenal makes a return. That cabinet of whoop-ass plays a big part in this chapter too, so expect action. Batman believes that its him and Catwoman vs. The World at this point so this is their ready-for-war scene, and don’t worry, they actually go on the move after spending the past 3 issues in a bunker.

Spoiler
This was such a cool concept not utilized to its fullest. Why didn’t Batman put on that Owl-Buster Armor (I keep calling it that but I don’t think it’s catching on) from The Court of Owls? Why didn’t he give Catwoman any extra weaponry?

All of the narrative threads we’ve been following so far finally begin to intertwine and I think that’s why I enjoyed this installment so much. The next group of characters we see are the Crime Syndicate, but mostly Grid and Power Ring, which is nice since they got so much emphasis in today’s Justice League #26– which I recommend you read first (not because it’s absolutely necessary, but you’ll have a richer experience knowing these characters better). Also, Power Ring is in Gotham, the same place as Batman, Catwoman, and our next bunch of characters (see where this is heading?).

Luthor and his band of misfits (Bizarro, Captain Cold, Black Manta, and Black Adam) make their way through the sewers of Gotham planning an ambush. Along the way they bicker, fight, and, surprisingly, some of them even bond in surprisingly emotional ways. Bizarro is definitely stepping up as a very endearing character, however I do wish he’d start speaking in his classic opposite-style. I always liked how damn confusing that was, ya know?

Watching all these storylines converge is the whole reason why fans read giant crossover events like this so I think anybody who has been reading this saga from the start will have a really great time reading this chapter. I know I did. The artwork by David Finch goes up and down a bit. Some pages look really amazing, especially the numerous splash pages. Finch has a knack for capturing the grotesque so all the villains flow naturally from his pencil. There’s also a particularly cool and atypical shot of Batman where his silhouette has more of a creeping vampiric look to it that I liked. And as  I said, the shot of the batcave was cool albeit the sort of reveal we’ve all seen countless times before. While Finch has struggled in the past to make the characters expressive and even vary faces from character to character, I found a scene between a pair of the villains to be quite moving and well-done. I’ll list any other grievances in the spoiler tags below…

Spoiler

  • I was kind of annoyed at how Batman and Catwoman kept referring to Dick as “Richard Grayson.” Once would’ve gone unnoticed, but three times? Seems like we’re afraid of calling him “Dick.”
  • Seeing all of the villains who tried to kill Stargirl in this month’s JLA make an appearance as Power Ring’s backup was great! However, seeing them all vanish one panel later was not. Where did they go? Geoff Johns and David Finch set up this killer battle between Luthor’s crew, Batman, and Power Ring and his band of super villains and then the few remaining pages are devoted to Batman and Power Ring alone. Hopefully this battle pays off more in the next chapter
  • All that build-up to Batman getting the power ring and going to war and he went out like a punk! Come on! He made only one construct (a bat, and not a very cool looking one) and then the ring got destroyed. This was Batman’s plan? One of the world’s greatest strategic minds?! He figured putting on a weapon he has zero experience with– a weapon that only has about 1% power left– and attacking an evil Hal Jordan head-on was a good idea? Come on! It really felt like we were building up to something cool…and we were, just not something cool for Batman. It was all about giving Sinestro a bad ass entrance
  • Sinestro’s bad ass entrance didn’t look very good. It was probably my least favorite image of the book even though the sentiment behind it was quite col. Something about the inks… too thick. Everything about that final page just looked kind of rough.

Recommended If…

  • The term “Sinestro Corps” gets your blood pumping
  • You want to see a well-written Catwoman
  • You like seeing your favorite DC villains interact in fun ways
  • You’ve been waiting for an issue that has action AND plot progression

Overall

“Hide and Seek” is a fun comic that makes reading all the other tie-in books seem worth it and it leaves you wanting more. The artwork has a few rough patches and The Dark Knight’s gambit doesn’t pay off in a satisfying way for us Batman fans, but overall this is one of the strongest chapters in Forever Evil so far.

SCORE: 8/10