Right from the first page, that’s when I knew. When I saw Bane dressed in a cape and cowl screaming at a Talon to “Wake the hell up!” I knew Arkham War wasn’t going to be what I hoped it could be. This whole mini-series has progressed from “Hey, this could be fun!” to “That wasn’t very fun, but it could still work.” to “What the heck?” to “I’m ready to check out of here now…”

Issue #4 continues the trend of featuring very little plot development, questionable characterization, and lots and lots of panels packed with the Batman rogues gallery bashing each others heads in. The bulk of this issue’s… I guess we can say story? Most of the issue is made up of Bane gallivanting around Gotham as he gives Cobb a guided tour that explains what has happened to the city and who the major players are in the Arkham War. Really this seems like it should have been issue #1 and the whole saga should’ve been told from Cobb’s perspective since he’s the fish out of water. How great of a shock would it have been if the first chapter was Bane dressed as Batman waking up a Talon? We would’ve all been thrown for a major loop and all of this exposition regarding Forever Evil and Scarecrow wouldn’t feel so redundant.

Bane dressing up as Batman and altering his motivations in this issue are all very out of character for him, but William Cobb doesn’t really seem like himself either. If you read Batman: Court of Owls or the head-to-head with his great-grandson Dick Grayson in Nightwing: Court of Owls then you know that Cobb became a really nasty agent of The Court. I mean, ruthless! So seeing him be so compliant with Bane’s requests and so kind-hearted when faced with the struggles of Gotham’s citizens all felt a bit off.

Those picking up this book for the first time will find the exposition informative, but those who have been following the series ever since the Villain’s Month issue Scarecrow #1 will be tapping their feet impatiently for something, anything more to happen. Besides the awakening of William Cobb on the first page and the cliffhanger final page

Spoiler
Keeping the Talons cryogenically frozen is one thing, keeping them cryogenically frozen with all their armor and weaponry is another. Seriously, these things should’ve just been put down. What’s the point in keeping them frozen for eternity? And if we’re going to freeze them, we might as well freeze all the other Bat-villains too Demolition-Man style and save Gotham all the distress of frequent break-outs
the only new elements that issue #4  has to offer are the possible death of a relatively new C-list villain and a few cameos by bad guys we haven’t seen in the previous three comics.
Spoiler
The New 52 villain, Mr. Combustible, shows up wearing a prison uniform but I don’t think he was ever apprehended. Not that it matters because he gets a drill to the head from the all-new Ventriloquist’s dummy. Did he die or not? It’s hard to say since we still know nothing about Mr. Combustible and what his weaknesses are. Since it’s not exactly blood and brains that pours out of him, he just might have survived. Firefly also shows up and gets quite a few lines, but I must say I really hate this version of Firefly. Sure, he looks fine, but if you read his introduction in Nightwing Annual #1, you’ll know that this guy knows NOTHING about pyrotechnics. He just stole the suit from Garfield Lyons, who is dead. How did he get the suit back? Vortex AKA Nocenti’s take on Zebraman also makes an appearance (though I wish we’d just forget about him) and so does Big Top or “Sumo” as he is called here. And as for all the build up for Scarecrow unleashing the Talons? Did you see that episode of South Park with George R.R. Martin saying “The dragons are totally coming, guys!” well that’s sort of the vibe I get from Arkham War only replace “dragons” with “Talons.” 

The imagery of issue #4 is also the weakest of the series so far, but maybe that’s just because the novelty of watching the villains kick each other’s ass has sort of worn off now. Some pages looked rather inconsistent, but that could be due to the fact that two different inkers worked on the project. The cover by Jason Fabok looked incredible though, especially if you find it in black and white.

Recommended If…

  • You like seeing big pictures of all the Bat-villains punching each other
  • You’ve been waiting for the return of William Cobb
  • You’re totally okay with Bane dressing up like Batman
  • You missed the first three issues but have been waiting for a jumping on point

Overall

The plot continues to barely putt along but we still get quite a few pages of the rogues gallery brawling. If you’re satisfied with just the imagery of super villains at each others throats then this will be worth your time, but it’s really starting to try my patience.

SCORE: 4/10