It’s the Night of Owls crossover event meets David Finch’s “Knight Terrors” from Batman: The Dark Knight and if you’ve seen both of those then you can probably stop reading the review right there because that pretty much sums it up. But if what I said means nothing to you, basically it’s a comic full of Talons and Bane-ified Bat-villains, which you can see on the cover by Jason Fabok. The funny thing is, the venom-induced swelling of the baddies that you see on the cover totally ruins the closing pages of the book. The cover is literally a spoiler.
There is, once again, not a whole lot to say about the Forever Evil tie-in Arkham War. It’s page after page of crowded cameo-laden battle sequences without any substance behind them. The characterization of many of the villains is still highly questionable with the worst offender being Bane, who delivers his lines like Cher from Clueless as he says “I have SO been looking forward to meeting all of you.” before charging into the battlefield while wearing a makeshift batsuit that’s all kinds of wrong. The most disappointing aspect of Arkham War #5 is the very thing we’ve been building toward this entire time: The Talons. The first 4 parts were essentially a fight between who would get the Talon army on their side, but when the time comes to finally see them in action it’s difficult to even make out what’s going on. There’s one scene in particular with a helicopter blade that I can’t make heads or tails of. I feel like something really cool happened, but Scott Eaton’s artwork didn’t translate it or much of the other action sequences and I think it’s his weakest issue as a result.
There’s a lot of great detail put into every Talon and the numerous other villains, but while the oversized panels packed with people punching each other doesn’t offer anything all that interesting when you look closely enough. It’s just bodies flailing. And with no emotional gravity or sense of significance whatsoever behind the fights they just get all the weaker. Think of all the times you’ve seen White Rabbit or Poison Ivy in the background of Bane & Scarecrow’s various onslaughts– what was the end result? Nobody looks injured. Nobody looks defeated. We’re seeing the same fights happen again and again with nothing gained or lost. The greatest example of this is Killer Croc. Remember him? He’s the character who was thrown from the top floor of Wayne Tower 2 issues ago. HE’S FINE. Writer Peter Tomasi doesn’t even acknowledge how he survived that attack. I was so certain there would have been some sort of quick scene in part 4 where a Man-Bat would swoop in to catch him before he hit the ground or something, but there’s diddly-squat! He’s A-Okay and in attendance at a closing scene where Scarecrow is filling the wine glasses of his comrades including Mr. Freeze (don’t even get me started on how little sense that makes), Nocturna, The Mortician, Joker’s Daughter (dammit), Mad Hatter, and others before delivering the “surprise” twist that they’re all going to try out Bane’s venom. Heck, Killer Croc is even at the forefront of the comic’s cover. Wha–how… Did we just forget that Killer Croc being thrown to his death was the big climactic moment of issue #3? There were 3 editors working on this book. Three! A group editor, an editor, and an assistant editor. Guys, I don’t think anybody read this before it went to print. You’d think even Scott Eaton, who drew Croc falling to his doom would’ve raised his hand and said “Didn’t we have a major scene where this guy was tossed from a skyscraper?”
And what are we doing repeating the whole “rogues take venom” idea from Batman: The Dark Knight for anyway? I have such bad memories about that story that my anticipation for part 6 has dropped to zero. I can’t believe I actually enjoyed this less than the Joker’s Daughter one-shot.
- You loved the Night of the Owls tie-ins
- Action is all you’re looking for
- Batman: The Dark Knight, Volume 1 was a book you enjoyed
I think that it could be cool for those who are just looking for big, ridiculous action featuring Bane, Talons, and lots of cameos from a roid raging rogues gallery, but if you’re looking for something with more substance you’ll want to steer clear of this one. I’ve been really disappointed in this mini-series’ attempt at a villain-centric New 52 No Man’s Land. It’s a Forever Evil tie-in worth skipping.