Forever Evil #2: Bizarre Times
Forever Evil, the storyline that launched the comic book tidal wave also known as Villains Month, is back for issue #2. It seems like an eternity since issue 1, mainly because the influx of thirty-odd issues dedicated to the DC villain gallery has put some serious distance between the two books. That’s over now, and writer Geoff Johns can now focus on his seven-issue look at an Earth with no Justice League. An Earth being held in the grip of the Crime Syndicate, the evil doppelgangers of the Justice League hailing from Earth 3.
Issue #2 opens up a slew of plot roads for the overall series, starting with Lex Luthor. In typical Luthor style, he has decided that, since Superman is nowhere to be found, it is up to him to save the world. The first part of his plan is to use the Superman clone he created (see Villains Month's Bizarro). He hasn’t quite ripened yet, but Luthor makes do. The second part of the plot is Luthor using his super suit. DC is, for some reason, still writing Luthor as much too sadistic, but otherwise this is a nice opening for the issue.
Stepping into the Teen Titans, they respond to the destruction by trying to take on Johnny Quick and Atomica. The Titans are quickly beaten, and then ushered into another dimension. The last few pages of Forever Evil #2 find Batman, Catwoman, and a largely destroyed Cyborg stumbling into Star Labs. As Cyborg’s father and his colleague rush to save the fallen Justice League member, Batman announces that the rest of the team did not make it. While I doubt DC are going to stop publishing Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, or Superman comics (ergo the team is probably still alive), the effect of Batman’s statement is still rather dramatic.
Where Geoff Johns really ratchets up the intrigue is with the Crime Syndicate. There is dissent among the ranks. Not just ego clashes, but real issues of hatred and jealousy. Ultraman, who holds Super Woman as his, despises the mutual attraction between her and Owlman. In turn, Owlman and Super Woman have a wicked surprise for Ultraman and a plan to eliminate him permanently.
Outside of personal issues, the Syndicate has a prisoner, tied up with a sack over his head. This prisoner is linked to something from the Syndicate’s world that scares them – something at least Owlman is afraid could follow them. Finally, there’s Dick Grayson who, if you read Villains Month's Secret Society, now has a much more interesting link to the Crime Syndicate. With his identity exposed, what will Nightwing’s fate ultimately be?
Johns does a solid job of keeping all these plot threads flowing without letting them get convoluted. He also brings a specific voice and style to the Crime Syndicate, something necessary if they are to be a threat readers invest in. Having been put off by Trinity War, I was impressed how well the first two issues of Forever Evil were pulled off. Johns writes with confidence here, something I hope he keeps through the rest of the series.
David Finch’s art is oddly hit or miss for an artist of his caliber. The lines are strong, the detail work excellent, but with some panels it feels like he was rushed, or didn’t care. In the scenes involving the Teen Titans, the facial work is sub-par. Lex Luthor looks off, though the Bizarro creature is amazing. Finch’s Johnny Quick is evil and wonderful, but Owlman is dumpy and Ultraman dull in some sections. For a series this big, I would expect Finch to bring his A game.
Forever Evil allows a bright future for the darkest times the New 52 have seen yet.
(4.5 Story, 3.5 Art)