Justice League #25: ‘Forever Evil’ Rolls On
Forever Evil is looking to make the Crime Syndicate a real presence in the new DCU. Instead of the simple reverse of our heroes, writer Geoff Johns is drawing out their history, injecting intrigue and expanding what we know into a real canon. I applaud that. The problem is the base of the set up, which falls apart based on what we know of the Syndicate. Ultraman, Superwoman, Owlman, and their little crew have all been sold as the greatest united super-beings on a planet that was completely centered on evil and crime.
Bringing us to Justice League #25, and the inherent problem I have with the entire Forever Evil storyline. JL #25 opens with the history of Owlman. First, Johns goes entirely too far on the “evil” history of the Wayne Family. Thomas Wayne is a weak little man who is constantly being sued because of his “surgical fetish.” Martha Wayne is a bitch who likes handing out lashes, and Bruce Wayne is spoiled little brat who screams what he wants all the time. His brother, Thomas Wayne Jr., is a cold, calculating killer. Instead of a random thief gunning down his family, Thomas kills them, in order to control the family fortune.
In the present, on our Earth, Owlman is attempting to control the entire mob, as well as turn Nightwing to his side. At some point, Owlman shared a brotherhood-like camaraderie with his version of Nightwing. On Earth 3, Nightwing belonged to a money-laundering family of thieves and killers who used their circus to keep a legit face on their criminal activities. After being murdered, Nightwing came to live with Thomas, and together they ran the criminal world of their Earth. According to Owlman, he needs Nightwing (our Nightwing) to join him to stop Ultraman from enslaving the Earth. Why? So that he can enslave it. Um, ok.
The over-the-top nature of Justice League #25 speaks to the bigger problem with the whole story. First, the need to show a history for the Crime Syndicate is fine, but to counter every single element of our Earth with theirs, takes away the individuality of this other Earth. The Waynes and Graysons don’t have a past as much as they do a plot device to keep the “opposite of us” idea going. By the end of the issue, the entire thing is quite dull.
Second, and more importantly, if the Crime Syndicate came from a world where everything was opposite, where crime and cruelty were the norm, then why were they the Crime Syndicate? According to what Johns writes here, the entire Earth is a cesspool of suffering, so who, exactly, were they committing crimes against? Sure, they might have oppressed the awful people working beneath them, but how could there be a Crime Syndicate on an Earth where there is no crime because crime is all there is? Outside of the massive logic flaws, there’s the Nightwing incident. If Nightwing was ready to die to stop the Crime Syndicate from enslaving the world, why join Owlman in doing it? I realize it’s probably part of a bigger plan Nightwing has, but the way it is written is very awkward.
On the lighter side, Doug Mahnke’s art is gorgeous to look at. Mahnke is a big fight type of artist. His lines are thick, his perspective gloriously huge. If Mahnke was a cameraman, he’d be hired for all the huge action adventure films. The massive splash page with Owlman is killer. Mahnke doesn’t really do subtle, but that’s okay, because he doesn’t have to.
(4 Art, 2 Story)