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Bane of Kings and Shadowhawk review the first issue of the new Forever Evil event mini-series from Geoff Johns.
“An otherwise excellent story hampered by its poor art, the first outing for Forever Evil provides a mixed bag.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
“A bold new vision of the New 52 DCU is beginning to unfold here and this is going to be one hell of a ride if this issue is any indication, aside from a few negatives.” ~Shadowhawk, The Founding Fields
Note: This was originally meant to go up on Friday as part of our Friday Flash Reviews feature, but some scheduling conflict and other things meant that this didn’t go up in time. We hope you enjoyed our mega Trinity War review in its place!
Note: This review contains spoilers for Trinity War, especially its ending.
Bane of Kings:
Pencils: David Finch | Inks: Richard Friend | Colours: Sonia Oback | Letters: Rob Leigh | Cover: David Finch, Richard Friend, Sonia Oback
The first universe-wide event of The New 52 begins as FOREVER EVIL launches! The Justice League is DEAD! And the villains shall INHERIT the Earth! An epic tale of the world’s greatest super-villains starts here!
So, Trinity War has concluded, and for better or worse, we have the start of a new mini-series. Forever Evil, spearheading the wave of Villain’s Month books being released across the board at DC Comics sees the Justice League seemingly dead and missing, and the protection of the world left in the hands of teen heroes such as the Titans, and slightly older and characters like Nightwing, Batgirl – and even others like The Red Hood, Starfire and Arsenal. However, judging from the events that unfold within the first issue of Forever Evil, they look clearly out of their depth – The Crime Syndicate, evil versions of the Justice League have arrived from Earth 3, and have recruited a whole host of DC’s antagonists from Creeper to Bane to wreak havoc upon this world.
Yeah. It’s safe to say that things are not going to be easy for the heroes left behind in the League’s stead, especially given the fate that Nightwing endures in the book when he witnesses somebody breaking into Arkham Asylum with his bare hands. To show Nightwing, arguably one of the best of the surviving heroes outclassed and outmatched so early on in the event, means that you shouldn’t go into the book expecting a things to go well for the surviving heroes. Right from the start, you get the feeling that they’re incredibly out of their depth, and Johns has brought forward a brilliantly executed tale that although doesn’t immediately answer our questions to the events in Trinity War, sets up a really strong storyline to follow.
However, there was just a few problems that prevented Forever Evil from being great. Firstly, David Finch’s art. It isn’t great, and I wasn’t a big fan of it. Whilst the most glaring error may not his fault, it becomes clear if you read the preview pages then you’ll see that the colourist has forgot to colour in Nightwing’s gloves in one particular scene. I didn’t really like the design of Barbara Gordon in her brief appearance, and I felt the art wasn’t just executed as well as it should have been. Also – if you missed out on Trinity War for whatever reason and are thinking on jumping on here, don’t. You won’t get what’s going on unless you’ve read the previous event, which builds up to this one so much so that Forever Evil feels more like Trinity War’s second act, rather than its first.
Another problem, even if a bit minor – was that as a Nightwing reader, you’ll be well aware that Dick is currently in Chicago dealing with the Prankster. The whole excuse of bringing Victor Zsasz back to Gotham could have been replaced with a better reason entirely (A massive amount of suspension of disbelief is required to make us think that Nightwing swung with Zsasz all the way from Chicago to Arkham like he does when he arrives) – maybe the ‘break in’ to Arkham should have been the reason behind Nightwing’s return in the first place, rather than have him witness the actual event. And also, a matter that caused me to raise my eyebrow is why Lex Luthor was left out of the inclusion of the group of villains called to answer the Crime Syndicate. Arguably Superman’s main antagonist, Lex is somebody who shouldn’t really be left in the dark about this thing particularly when Batman’s entire Rogue Gallery seems to be present.
However, maybe there’s a reason for Lex not being there. Browsing on some Wikipedia articles about the Crime Syndicate (or at least, the Earth 3 page), I noticed that Lex in Earth 3 was on the side of good, similar to the Lex in Injustice: Gods Among Us’ alternate reality. This could make us believe that they think Lex a good guy, but that also wouldn’t explain why they have recruited characters like Two-Face – who was a hero, and even The Riddler, but they’re not left out. Hopefully this, along with many other questions (we still don’t know the current state of the Justice Leaguers yet) will be answered in future issues.
Some tough times in this series have been promised for Nightwing, and Geoff Johns delivers a very interesting take that might not appeal to all fans, but is better than certain alternatives. I for one am interested to see how this new status quo for the character plays into the current Nightwing ongoing, and whether it will be felt for long after the events of Forever Evil, or merely wrapped up at the end of the event.
However, despite the problems that I’ve mentioned above, I actually enjoyed this book. The storyline was aside from a few niggles mostly solid and that massive splash-page featuring all of the gathered villains was excellent. I for one now would love to see a Crime Syndicate ongoing series launch at the conclusion of this event, as it would allow for a whole wealth of undiscovered possibilities in a similar way to Earth 2. As a whole then, I’d recommend this book to you if you enjoyed Trinity War, a fan of event-type stories, like Nightwing or enjoy reading about DC’s Villains. If all of those things fit the bill, well then – Forever Evil #1 may well be your next best thing. It’s certainly worth checking out though, just be warned, it’s not perfect – and remember, we still have six issues left of the mini-series to answer any questions.
Trinity War ended last month, kicking off the “main event” as it were, Forever Evil, which is where the supervillains of DC universe take over now that all the “first generation” heroes such as the Justice League and most of the other affiliates such as the Justice League of America and Justice League Dark have gone missing, presumed dead at large. This is an absolutely hellish time for the DCU since the Crime Syndicate from Earth 3 now calls Earth Prime home and is taking over the world. That ending to Trinity War was certainly unexpected, and it should be really interesting to see how Geoff Johns builds up everything. He’s no stranger to such comics, having written Flashpoint, Blackest Knight, and many others in the past, including significant chapters of Infinite Crisis. I have full trust in his ability to write a great event-series. However, it is largely the art in this issue that threw me for a loop.
Forever Evil #1 begins at an unspecified amount of time after Justice League #23 (also written by Geoff Johns), and it shows how the Crime Syndicate solidifies its hold over Earth Prime, and how they ensure the loyalties and cooperation of Earth Prime’s supervillains, which includes such big names as Deathstroke, Gorilla Grodd, Cheetash, Black Manta, The Penguin, Harley Quinn, and many, many others. This is one part of this entire story that I’m really glad Johns didn’t gloss over. The Crime Syndicate travels all over the globe, going to each and every super-prison and freeing all the inmates, letting humanity’s greatest mistakes run riot throughout the world.
Told from the perspective of Lex Luthor for the most part, the script was intriguing and thought-provoking, especially revealing the source of Ultraman’s powers and his weaknesses. Since several of the week 1 Villain’s Month titles have been written to coincide with this issue, some of the events in those comics now take on a greater meaning. Some obvious ones: Gorilla Grodd being freed from his prison in the Speed-Force and the “solar eclipse” as per Flash #23.1, Gotham gone dark (on the part of Grid) as per The Dark Knight #23.1, Deadshot accepting a mission from Amanda Waller as per Justice League of America #7.1, and so on. I expect that a lot more of the Villain’s Month titles will end up tying into events here, and that’s how it should be, I think, since a lot of these villain’s don’t need for their origins to be told, again, especially not at this point of time in the DCU.
One of the main reasons that I loved seeing Lex Luthor’s perspective here is because of how things fare with him in the pages of Superman Unchained and the Trinity War issues of three Justice League books. It adds so much more to his story, especially the final panel in the comic where he… well, to know that you have to read the issue! Anyway, there was also a great example of subtle world-building here since in these scenes we see Luthor talking with, presumably, Ted Kord, who was the second Blue Beetle in the pre-New 52 continuity. His status, as far as I know, within the New 52 continuity is uncertain and unknown, so it was great to finally see an appearance from the character. Given how his arc ends in this issue though, I’m not hopeful that we’ll be seeing any more of him. Should be interesting really.
Another highlight of this issue was the treatment of Nightwing aka Dick Grayson at the hands of one of the members of the Crime Syndicate. DC has been extremely unsubtle in that Nightwing is presumably going to be the hero that suffers most during the events of Forever Evil and given the way that Johns writes his narrative here, things for him are going to be absolutely down in the dumps. I actually cringed in his final scenes within this issue, and I’m not really looking forward to seeing what’s going to happen to him next. All I know is that it will be undoubtedly heart-breaking, if Ultraman’s words are any indication.
Again and again, Geoff Johns hammers home the fact there really is a new world order taking affect here, as advertised on the cover art by artists Richard Friend, Sonia Oback and David Finch. The status quo has changed completely, and this what the story is going to be like, make no mistake. This is DC’s first major universe-wide event since the launch of New 52, and coming in at the heels of the mostly spectacular Trinity War, I’m expecting great things here.
However, that’s not going to matter as much unless David Finch really ups his game. His pencils were really inconsistent throughout this issue and he draws some really weird faces for Ultraman and Super Woman. Not to mention that a lot of the character-work, especially for Flash villains The Rogues was just plain weird as well. His Lex Luthor was pretty much perfect, and Nightwing as well, but it was Ultraman who was the worst, with some out-of-proportioned heads in various panels and a completely inconsistent look. In general, Finch’s characters aren’t very expressive and seem to be rather wooden, which really takes away from the story. The issue was also heavy on the inking, especially for the character faces and that is an approach I just don’t like. So that is problematic for me as well, although I’m not certain how Richard Friend can improve in that regard, except to maybe do less heavy inking? Not sure. The colours however, by Sonia Oback, were spot-on and gave the issue a really distinctive feel that works rather well with Finch’s pencils and actually help raise the quality of his work. So that’s something!
All in all, I did enjoy this issue from a story point, but not so much from the art point. That’s really the only big point in which this book needs to improve for the next six issues.