'Hell Arisen' Comic Brings Lex Luthor and a Corrupted Bruce Wayne Into Conflict

Hell Arisen comic - Publicity - H 2019
Steve Epting/DC
The title ties events from 'Justice League' and 'Batman/Superman' together this December.

What happens when two long-running storylines from DC’s comic book universe collide, bringing two of the biggest threats in the current DCU face-to-face for the first time? The answer takes the form of a new miniseries launching in December, titled Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen.

Written by Justice League and Justice League Dark’s James Tynion IV with art from Steve Epting (Action Comics, Marvel’s Captain America), Hell Arisen brings the Batman Who Laughs and his “Secret Six” of infected superheroes into conflict with the reborn Lex Luthor, who has been raising an army of supervillains for the past few months across the entire DC line as the result of events in the ongoing Justice League comic.

“It's kind of an Aliens vs. Predator situation: whoever wins, we lose,” Tynion told ScreenRant, which broke the news of the title. “The Batman Who Laughs getting what he wants is not good for anybody. Lex Luthor getting what he wants? Also not that good for anybody. So it's going to lead to a pretty horrific battle between the two.”

Introduced during the 2017 miniseries Dark Nights: Metal, the Batman Who Laughs is the Bruce Wayne from the "Dark Multiverse," an alternate reality populated by nightmare versions of familiar DC concepts, who has been exposed to Joker toxin and become an amoral, hyper-intelligent version of the most capable (and most dangerous) man alive. After his Metal appearance, he starred in the seven-issue The Batman Who Laughs series, and currently is the antagonist of the recently launched Batman/Superman series.

Lex Luthor, meanwhile, has undergone some particular changes as the result of the current Justice League series and the "Year of the Villain" storyline running throughout DC's superhero publishing line. After becoming obsessed with the cosmic entity Perpetua — the mother of those responsible for creating the universe in the first place — Luthor has devoted himself to the pursuit of selfishness and greed in the belief that those are literal divine traits. That pursuit has led him to commit suicide, subsequently being reborn in a genetically modified body that mixes human and martian DNA, transforming him into the so-called "Apex Lex" seen in contemporary Justice League issues.

The first issue of the Hell Arisen series, set to be released Dec. 18, will hit stands on the same day as Justice League No. 38 and Batman/Superman No. 5, and continue plot threads from both series as Luthor and the alternate reality Bruce Wayne butt heads. But, according to Tynion, the story won’t end with this series.

“All I'm saying is Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen is not the last step in the road,” he teased. “But we're getting close to where this big, massive story that we planned ... the direction we've been pointing in for the last two years. All I can say is next year is going to be a very big year.”