Forever Evil: Arkham War #1 is written by Peter J. Tomasi and drawn by Scot Eaton.
After the world-changing events of “Forever Evil” and Villains Month, Gotham is about to become a war zone!
The Good: Writer Peter J. Tomasi continues to impress. Not only has Tomasi proven he knows how to write Batman and his allies (in the pages of Batman & Robin), but now we get to see Tomasi take on all of Gotham’s most vile villains.
And man is it fun! Tomasi writes these villains so well. These aren’t generic, bland, run-of-the-mill comic book villains. They all read and feel like their own distinct, clearly thought-out characters. They’ve got personality! Bane is just as physically brutal and dominating as ever. Scarecrow keeps fear alive while the clever Penguin has more up his sleeve than he lets on. Although I will admit I’m not a big fan of Professor Pyg, Tomasi does a nice job showcasing Pyg’s unsettling and demented behavior.
Scot Eaton’s art is straight-forward and consistent. If you wanted you could skim through the issue and get the gist of the events, but I would not recommend that. It’s the little details and minor things happening on panel that impress me about Scot Eaton. From the cityscape backgrounds to the close-up fight scenes, it’s the smaller details and extra pieces Scot Eaton adds that really make the reader believe this is Gotham during wartime.
The story moves nicely with Bane’s invasion of Gotham and the reader gets a good sense of just how large scale this war will become. Glimpses of the different boroughs in Gotham (under new villainous management, of course) keep readers piqued and guessing about who will show up or what will happen next.
We see cameos by Commissioner Gordon, Mr. Freeze, Killer Croc, Man-Bat, The Reaper, and a few others as Bane’s invasion spreads into their lives. It’s a nice way to show where so many characters are during these events and introduce these players in context to the larger story unfolding. Although this is the first issue in a six-part storyline, Arkham War #1 had several interesting plot developments that keep the story progressing rather than simply being an introductory issue.
The Bad: This issue gets the ball rolling and sets the stage for things to come, but by the end of the book I was hoping I would know more about the plans these villains have concocted. We know Bane’s motivation for invading from his Villains Month single issue, but everyone else is unclear. Mostly it seems like they’re all just reacting to Bane’s invasion rather than plotting and planning on their own.
Never underestimate Scarecrow or The Penguin, but at this point we’re not sure what their angle is or what they’re hoping to gain from all this. Obviously neither of them will come right out and say their master plan(s), but I was expecting a little more insight into their reasoning than what we’ve seen.
The second failing in this issue is that there wasn’t enough interaction between all the villains. This issue focuses primarily on Bane, Scarecrow, Penguin, and Pyg. There are over 30 villains on the cover of Arkham War #1, let’s see them! Like I said earlier, there are plenty of cameos and minor appearances of other villains but they don’t get much page time with each other.
There was more interaction between the villains in Scarecrow’s Villains Month one-shot than there was in this issue of Arkham War. I know this is just the first issue so I’ll be patient, but I’m hoping we get a little more variety next month. As far as Eaton’s art goes, the only complaint I’ve got is that his doll-o-trons look more like chubby redheads than people wearing another person’s skin as their face. It’s like if Raggedy Ann and Leatherface had kids, but I’d like to see more of their father in them than their mother.
The Verdict: Overall, this was an exciting start to Forever Evil: Arkham War. Peter Tomasi writes Batman’s rogues gallery exceptionally well and we finally see Bane begin his conquest! Scot Eaton draws Gotham with skill and there’s an atmosphere of a city at war. It’s a fun issue to read with enough going on that it ends before you know it and waiting for next month’s issue to come out already. We’ve only seen the beginning of Arkham War but we can already tell this is going to be a huge, epic battle for the city of Gotham.