Forever Evil: Arkham War #2 was written by Peter J. Tomasi with art by Scot Eaton
As Bane’s army moves through Gotham, the war escalates and Batman’s greatest villains begin taking sides!
Forever Evil: Arkham War #2 kicks up the action as Bane’s army of Blackgate prisoners move in on Gotham City neighborhoods controlled by Batman’s greatest villains. The pure brawn of Brute—Bane’s lieutenant—goes up against the astonishing brain of Dr. Kirk Langstrom, a.k.a. Man-Bat. It’s an interesting opening scene because readers learn what Dr. Langstrom is out to accomplish in this new, chaotic world. We also discover that he has created his own legion of followers transformed by the Man-Bat serum. Man-Bat’s origin story played out in the back-up stories of Detective Comics for a few months, and we finally learn in Arkham War #2 why Dr. Langstrom is getting involved in the battle for Gotham.
Writer Peter J. Tomasi does a nice job of following up on some of the major players in this issue: James Gordon and the Gotham police department attempt to rescue the warden of Blackgate from Bane’s men, and Penguin reveals his selfish nature as he plays both sides of this war, going along with Scarecrow’s plans but also making deals with Bane on the side. Penguin also appears to be holding a grudge against Ignatius Ogilvy, a.k.a. Emperor Penguin, after the recent events in Detective Comics and was a nice surprise for this issue. Too often, comic book storylines don’t have any lasting impact on characters and subsequent issues, so to bring up the grudge between Cobblepot and Ogilvy is an interesting development in Arkham War #2. Meanwhile, Scarecrow and Man-Bat ramp up their efforts to fight back against Bane’s army. The Arkhamites initiate a plan to steal the undead Talons (from Scott Snyder’s “Court of Owls” arc in Batman) from under Bane’s nose, but of course that doesn’t go as planned. All of the storylines in this issue—Gordon and the GCPD, Bane, Penguin, and Man-Bat—intersect in the final sequence. Tomasi keeps the story moving forward in this issue with a good balance between dialogue and fast-paced action.
The cover art for Arkham War #2 is exciting; Bane fighting off Talons! That’s going to be awesome! But, unfortunately, that cover is a lie. No such scene takes place in this issue. In fact, all of the Talons are still frozen in suspended animation at this point in the story. The Talons are guaranteed to play a role in Arkham War, but this isn’t it. And although Tomasi does a nice job showcasing Bane, Penguin, Scarecrow, Jim Gordon, and now Man-Bat, readers haven’t seen many other villains step up to the spotlight.
Two-Face and Poison Ivy are in a few panels getting their hands dirty, along with Clayface, The Reaper, Mad Hatter, Emperor Penguin and a few others. But for the most part, none of those characters have any lines or any real involvement in the story. They’re just there in the background of splash page fight scenes. Mr. Freeze is mentioned in Scarecrow’s plans for the Talons, but that’s it. Arkham War is supposed to be all of Batman’s greatest villains fighting for control of the city, but so far it feels more like a three-way fight between Bane, Scarecrow, and Penguin. The other villains need more screen time if readers are to believe this is an all-out war among Arkham’s craziest. Finally, there are a few unanswered questions from Arkham War #1 that weren’t answered in this second issue. What happened to Professor Pyg after Bane approached him? What about all the bridges, tunnels, and railways in Gotham that Penguin supposedly blew up? Hopefully these questions and more will be answered in the upcoming issues.
Forever Evil: Arkham War #2 ramps up the action in Gotham as the villains come into direct conflict with each other. The first issue laid the groundwork and this second issue tangles up the web of deceit between Bane, Penguin, and Scarecrow. The story still has some holes the size of Two-Face, Riddler, Poison Ivy, and Mr. Freeze, but hopefully Tomasi and artist Scot Eaton are building up to that. This issue is fun with great action scenes and good dialogue, chugging right along and leaving readers waiting for more!