Forever Evil #3: Villains Uniting
The cover to Forever Evil #3 shows Bizarro fighting Black Adam, and Lex Luthor, Black Manta and Captain Cold throwing down. However, nothing like that actually happens in the book – they all get along fairly well, as they begin to realize they need to team up in the face of the Crime Syndicate threat. Well, Bizarro doesn't because he's still a nameless, nonverbal beast, and Black Adam doesn't because Ultraman has knocked him out cold and left him for dead, but the other three seem to know the deal.
The issue begins with Batman and Catwoman at S.T.A.R. Labs in Detroit, hoping Vic Stone's father can save the life of his son once again, the same way he did when he initially turned him into Cyborg. For who knows how long, the mechanized parts of Vic were secretly the Crime Syndicate's Grid, and once separated, he's left dying once more. Also, Dr. Thomas Morrow is on hand to try and figure out the superhuman science behind the Firestorm Matrix that seems to be holding the rest of the Justice League prisoner. Then, suddenly, Batman sees the unmasking of Nightwing on the TV, and leaves Vic to go deal with that.
Cut to Lex Luthor, who is employing his undercooked Superman clone to help him set up a means of monitoring the Crime Syndicate without their knowledge. Once it's up and running, he's able to watch the fight between Ultraman and Black Adam, which is depressingly short. The last issue promised a real knockdown drag-out, but for a being as powerful as he is, Adam gets chumped – although not without bloodying Ultraman with some magic lightning. But who knows how magic affects Ultraman? It doesn't seem to make him stronger, as you'd think, being the opposite of Superman and all. But Luthor seems to notice he's scared of sunlight.
Then, we check in on Central City and the Rogues, who are butting heads with Deathstorm and Power Ring of the Crime Syndicate, who are unhappy with the fact that they haven't murdered everybody in their town. Deathstrom transmutes Captain Cold so he no longer has his inherent ice powers, and the rest of the Rogues are trapped in Mirror Master's shattered world, leaving Len Snart to seek out Lex Luthor. Coincidentally enough, Black Manta also shows up on the scene dragging Black Adam's beaten body out of the drink, determined to kill the Crime Syndicate as well. What do ya know, suddenly we've got our own little Legion of Doom here, and they're getting ready to save the world… although not without incident, since the next issue is promising "Batman vs. Luthor."
The core concept of Forever Evil is a cool one. The villains being thrust into the role of heroes is always enjoyable, as we get to actually root for the jerks we love. I'm beginning to have some minor doubts about the execution, since two months and three issues in (including a massive glut of Villains Month titles) and every book still seems to be spinning its wheels in a reactive 'damn, I guess that happened' mode. I appreciate the thorough reach into every nook and cranny of the DCU, but there comes a point where it feels a bit repetitive. Perhaps that's just mid-event-book-itis. Also it's disappointing that Black Adam, who would clearly not be holding anything back, still gets his face crushed by Ultraman and dumped into the drink (I really enjoy referring to a body of water as "the drink"). One supposes that he's still new to the present-day and has little experience dealing with people on his power level, but still, it's a bit deflating. But the LOD getting together is promising some fun. Let's hope Geoff Johns delivers.
Another weird thing is whatever's going on with David Finch's artwork – or perhaps Richard Friend's inks or Sonia Oback's colors. It's really pronounced right at the beginning, when Batman's mask is a constantly fluctuating level of destroyed. One panel, it's all there, the next, it's half-off, and then it's only flayed on the side a little, and then there's absolutely no way Catwoman doesn't look at his half-revealed face and say "Bruce Wayne!" Although, come to think of it, I have no idea if she knows his secret identity in the New 52, but that's neither here nor there. It really looks like Finch is drawing the mask inconsistently. The man is a very talented artist who excels with dark and brooding stuff, but he also has a tendency to make his faces seem a bit too tight and pained sometimes. His Bizarro is very interestingly grotesque, though, and when he's on, he's definitely dynamic. Even if I have no idea what the hell the emblem on Power Ring's chest is supposed to be – is that a green butterfly?
All in all, Forever Evil is cool, in that same dark, tough-guy tone in which DC seems to be unifying all of their books. Maybe that's why it feels like I've been reading the same thing a lot of the time with DC's stuff – unless it's Larfleeze, it all seems to have the same Dark Knight kind of vibe. It's not a bad vibe, but when it's the only vibe, you can get burnt out.