Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen #3 is published by DC Comics, written by James Tynion IV, art by Steve Epting and Javier Fernandez, colors by Nick Filardi, and letters by Travis Lanham. With several Justice Leaguers now under the thrall of The Batman Who Laughs, Luther finds himself in a tight pinch. Until a would-be savior appears that is. Though when the Joker comes to save you are you truly better off?
With the last issue ending on the reveal that numerous members of the Justice League had allowed themselves to get infected by The Batman Who Laughs’ Joker Toxin, through nothing more than poor disease prevention measures, the plot was already showing signs of struggle. This issue only increased those concerns for me.
Adding to the apparent newfound ineptitude of the League’s ability to interact with contagious individuals, is a newfound sense of cowardice. After all how else does one describe a room full of super-powered heroes panicking in fear because someone is firing a tommy gun at them? And no, the fact that it’s the Joker pulling the trigger doesn’t help the cause any. This feels like sloppy writing purely for the sake of expediting the plot. No group of six Leaguers should ever be able to get run to ground by a simple assault rifle.
Once Lex and Joker effect their escape from The Hall of Justice, the bulk of the issue is dedicated to Luthor using knowledge, or maybe just inspiration, gleaned from the Joker’s mind to devise how he’s going to defeat The Batman Who Laughs. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure why Lex needed Joker. He doesn’t really seem to do much of anything. This was a solid disappointment for me. To be honest, I’m not a fan of the Joker. I feel like his importance in the grand scheme of the DC Universe is constantly overstated. But here, it seemed like he could serve a genuine purpose perhaps only he could perform. But, it seems instead he is trotted out to be the laughing twisted villain whose only purpose is to be cruel to things, make some unfunny jokes, and be all “crazy.”
The art in Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen #3 is fine. Epting and Fernandez give a solid performance, providing a clear presentation for the book’s narrative. The sequence within the Joker’s mind is a visual stand out for this issue. With plenty of psychedelic imagery to give the unhinged feel, without simply resorting to twisted imagery or scenes of violence.
A final note on the visual presentation has to be made about the lettering. Overall, Lanham does a good job of using fonts to present the different tones of the characters’ voices. This is most notable with the various Infected characters using a font type that just makes every word feel like a snarl. This approach, however, goes too far with the Batman Who Laughs. While the same font is used for him as his minions, his text is red on black backgrounds. With the combination of colors and font, I found his bubbles sometimes a struggle to read. Not unreadable by any means, but less than what I’d expect.
When all is said and done Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen #3 is a bit of a stumble. Narrative shortcomings and missed opportunities weigh down this book considerably. Hopefully, next month’s conclusion will be able to deliver a substantially better pay off.
Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen #3 is available on February 26th wherever comics are sold.
Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen #3
When all is said and done, Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen #3 is a bit of a stumble. Narrative shortcomings and missed opportunities weigh down this book considerably.