Forever Evil: Arkham War #4 Review: “Empire of the Bat”
Written by Peter J. Tomasi with art by Scot Eaton
The new diabolic duo—Bane and Talon William Cobb—team up to quash the forces of Arkham Asylum and claim the city of Gotham!
Forever Evil: Arkham War #4 is easily the most fun issue of the series so far. Previously, Bane built his own Bat-suit and defeated Killer Croc for control of Wayne Tower. Now, after reviving Dick Grayson’s great-grandfather, the Talon William Cobb, Bane has his very own sidekick. The two villains make a deadly pair as they take on the rag-tag band of crazies from Arkham Asylum. Previous issues suffered from the lack of diversity in the cast: Scarecrow, Penguin, Bane, and Man-Bat received the lion’s share of panel time. That is not the case in Arkham War #4. Firefly, Mad Hatter, Clayface, Reaper, and Mr. Zsasz all get speaking time after appearing mostly in wide shots and fight sequences in previous issues. Even the new Ventriloquist and Sumo each make a brutal impact on the melee in Gotham. William Cobb shows why he is the premiere Talon assassin by tearing through Scarecrow’s allies. He is not the only Talon, however, as this book ends with Scarecrow and Mr. Freeze finally bringing the other Talons they stole from Bane back to life.
Writer Peter J. Tomasi delivers a lot of action with several characters readers had not seen very much of in this title. Up to this point, Arkham War was mostly a three-way fight between Bane, Scarecrow, and Penguin. While other characters have shown up in minor roles, this never felt like an all-out war until now. It’s fast-paced, exciting, and a lot of fun. Tomasi also delves a little deeper into Bane’s plans, as the powerhouse from Santa Prisca reveals his intentions to William Cobb. Bane is not as intimidating in Arkham War as he usually is because he is trying to protect the people of Gotham while taking over the city from the Arkhamites. It appears that he has a heart, at least maybe a little bit. The reader’s perception of Bane changes by the end of the issue as Tomasi lets the reader in on Bane’s long-term plans. Readers often forget that behind Bane’s venom injections and dominating strength is an ingenious mind.
Scot Eaton’s art is what makes this issue fun. Eaton draws great body language, posing, and energy in this issue that makes the reader feel like they’re right in the middle of the chaotic brawling. These fight scenes are claustrophobic in the best way, just like one might expect from crowds of crazies going at it during all-out war in Gotham. There is movement and action in every panel, and even a nice spread of Bane and Talon dashing across the rooftops as the new Batman and Robin of Gotham. Eaton draws Talon with the same acrobatic style as his great-grandson, Dick Grayson, but with the lethal force you’d expect from an assassin. When Bane or Talon are breaking bones, the pain is visual and startling. Poor Mr. Combustible.
Although this series needed to give more panel space to a variety of villains, Arkham War #4 still misses a few characters. Penguin has played a significant part in this story by working the angles between Scarecrow and Bane, yet he does not appear in this issue. He finally has Ignatius “Emperor Penguin” Ogilvy in his clutches to exact revenge upon, but readers do not get to see that confrontation play out here. Also missing is police commissioner James Gordon. The last time he appeared in this book was two issues ago when he rescued the interim warden of Blackgate, Ms. Agatha Zorbatos. If Gotham is in the throes of all-out war between the loonies from Arkham and the thugs from Santa Prisca, wouldn’t the GCPD commissioner get involved in some way? Scarecrow and Mr. Freeze do appear in this book, but only at the end when they finally manage to revive the Talons they stole from Bane. It is odd to think Bane and his team were able to bring back one Talon before two scientists, one of whom specializes in cryogenics, were able to revive theirs. Sure, Scarecrow and Mr. Freeze are working with seven talons and maybe that slowed them down, but it’s still odd.
Forever Evil: Arkham War #4 is a fun, action-packed melee. Writer Peter J. Tomasi entertains with the interactions between Batman’s rogues gallery and minor characters take the spotlight for a change. Scot Eaton’s art puts the reader right in the middle of the action and never lets up. Each issue escalates the action from previous issues and Arkham War #4 raises the stakes even higher. If the final two issues of this series are anything like the rest, readers can expect one explosive conclusion!