And we're jumping straight into the shit, war has broken out, and one of Bane's lieutenants, Brute, is going up against Man-Bat, and his Man-Bats, which ends with a radio tower through Brute's chest.
With all hell breaking loose, Gordon and his lady cop friend, whose name I've forgotten, are held up in a out of service food truck, but have to shut up, as Penguin meets with Bane outside.
Bane seems to admire Penguin in a way, and knows that he is not like much of the scum in Gotham, but instead, has been part of it since the beginning, his family having help built it. Bane admires the self interest Penguin uses to get by, as he tends to do the same. So Bane offers Penguin a partnership, he'll provide order and structure to the city, along with protection, and Penguin will give him information when the Arkham residents come to him. Penguin agrees to this, under one condition, that Bane delivers Ogilvy or "Emperor Penguin" to him. Then Penguin proves himself useful to Bane, providing him with his first bit of info, that the Arkham inmates know of his plan for the Talons, and are in the process of abducting them as they speak.
As Bane leaves, Penguin heads towards the food truck, somehow knowing Gordon was inside, and offers up information on how to save their colleagues in Blackgate.
Speaking of Blackgate, shit's gone wild in there, as Gordon sneaks in, and dresses himself and the interim warden in prison uniforms, allowing them to slip but relatively unnoticed. Meanwhile, Scarecrow preps the Talons to be brought to Mr. Freeze's lab, via Man-Bats carrying them throughout he sky. Bane shows up to break things up, and manages to catch Man-Bat, and at least one Talon (who is probably William Cobb), along with noticing Gordon and the interim warden getting away.
Inside Gordon's getaway car, the interim warden is kicking herself for losing track of her assistant Donald, but Bane delivers Donald's injured body to the hood of their car, claiming to be working angles to his advantage, much like Penguin. Something that no one in the car seems to feel good about.
This was more like it, after three issues of set up, including the Scarecrow and Bane issues of Villains Month, we finally got an issue of all out war, mixed with some interesting character moments. Where I had some problems with characterizations last issue, I loved the interaction between Bane and Penguin here. That whole scene, and Bane's "respect" for Penguin just seemed to make sense, and Penguin's vague motivations and alliances also fit right in line with him.
There's just some messy ass continuity going on here. When could Brute speak? When he was introduced in Detective #19, he was pretty much the movie version of Bane... you know, the bad one, where he was stupid and roidraged out. He's barely coherent in the issues of Talon he showed up in too. Man-Bat has been in books a lot lately as a fairly conflicted character, and his being here, lending his Man-Bat serum out, let alone leading an attack makes no sense for him in his current New 52 state. Also, why is Two-Face helping out? Tomasi wrote the issue where he basically said "Fuck Scarecrow and his Secret Society," yet, here he is with all the Arkham inmates, attacking Blackgate.
That's the New 52, for you.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, this was a much improved issue from a somewhat boring first. This issue truly lives up to the name "Arkham War." It's unfortunate that the issue is hampered by some clumsy continuity issues with various characters, some larger than others. Will most people realize those errors? I don't know, probably not, this is coming from someone who reads nearly all the Batman related books, so I'm tempted to say it's not that big of a deal... but still, typical messy New 52 continuity. Nerdy nitpicks aside, if you came for war, war is what you get in this issue, and it's pretty damn enjoyable.