The reign of the Crime Syndicate continues and chaos envelops the world in an issue of “Forever Evil” that seems ready to burst.
Written by Geoff Johns
Illustrated by David Finch
The villains have taken over the world! The Teen Titans fight back! Can the inexperienced teen heroes do what the adults could not? (Answer: Nope. It goes very poorly.)
After four weeks of an unending onslaught of one-shot Villains Month Issues, it would be very easy to assume that the latest DC event was over. As October begins and fresh copies of “Forever Evil” #2 arrive at comic book stores, it’s a bit of a shocking reminder that this event, now 54-ish issues in, is only just beginning.
After the disappearance of the Justice League, the subsequent worldwide attack from the Crime Syndicate, and the public unmasking of Nightwing as Dick Grayson, the world is in chaos. Ultraman has literally moved the moon to block out the sun, causing a massive amount of global damage from tidal waves and floods. If these villains can change the shape of the sky, it seems like they are unstoppable.
Not everyone, however, is so quick to admit defeat and bow in front of the invaders from Earth 3. Lex Luthor and the Teen Titans are both plotting against the Syndicate, with appropriately different methods. The Teen Titans launch an open attack, hoping to start a rallying cry among the remaining heroes, and are immediately out of their league. Lex Luthor, on the other hand, prefers to stay in the shadows and play the long game, as it were. Luthor’s plan to defeat the Crime Syndicate is as ruthless as ever, and introduces a familiar character into the New 52 DC universe.
Geoff Johns clearly enjoys writing bad guys. He is the mastermind behind the “Forever Evil” event and popped up all over Villains Month as he steers the DCU in a darker direction. By bringing the Crime Syndicate, an evil version of the Justice League with evil universe doppelgangers of everybody’s favorite heroes, Johns has the opportunity to poke a little of fun at the same characters he normally extols A conversation between Ultraman and Johnny Quick, AKA evil Superman and evil Flash, is full of snark and bitter prodding. When Quick suggests that Ultraman “unclench [his] indestructible asshole”, it’s easy to imagine it as something the real Flash might want to tell Superman in their more acrimonious moments. It’s interesting to note that the Syndicate still features the same character traits as their hero counterparts. Ultraman is committed to his ideals, Power Ring is ruled by emotion, Quick enjoys the beneficial side of his powers, and Owlman is a borderline psychopath who barely gets along with anyone.
Johns is sure to pack this issue of “Forever Evil” with story and so many plotlines are going on that at points it feels like the book is ready to burst. In the hands of a writer without the experience, not to mention the editorial oversight of Johns, there is a real possibility that this book would have been an incoherent mess. Instead he knows the exact amount of dialog and exposition that is required to keep the development of both the plot and characters moving forward. The Teen Titans are only featured for a few pages, but the dynamic of Red Robin and Superboy mirrors that of their mentors in such a way that it immediately creates personalities that the reader feels attachment to. Lex Luthor is always a dark pleasure to read when Johns is writing him, as he becomes the sociopathic Machiavellian plotter that readers love to hate. Here, Luthor doesn’t hesitate when dealing with the Syndicate and immediately adapts one of his many ongoing schemes to defeat Superman into one to attack these new overlords. The way that Johns has Luthor deal with the poor security guard Otis, serves a chilling reminder that while he has just as much of a desire to save the world as Superman would, Luthor is going to go about it in a very different way. Johns has made Luthor into the protagonist of “Forever Evil”, but he is definitely not a hero.Continued below
David Finch continues to use his signature dark and tough style in this issue and it suits the series quite well. This is an issue that features a greater number of dialog driven scenes, and Finch’s detailed pencils help to keep the page visually interesting without the need for an explosion in every panel. The art in the scenes with Luthor turn the basement of LexCorp into a dungeon-like place, full of moody tones and hard angled characters emerging from darkness, and gives it a real sense of menace. Here Finch also has the opportunity to introduce a familiar character into the New 52, a traditional enemy of Superman. Without any spoilers, Finch remains true to the characters traditional appearance while using his hard and dark style to establish its threatening and imposing nature.
The one slight drawback to Finch’s style is that while using many many lines in a drawing adds detail, it can also have the side effect of making images appear static. In the past, some have argued that Finch’s style robs action scenes of some kinetic energy and excitement. Fortunately, this is not a problem that occurs within “Forever Evil” in any great amount. Here the issue’s action scenes, while kept to a minimum, are fast paced and dynamic. If anything, Finch’s detailed pencils actually accentuates the confrontation between Quick and Kid Flash, and makes them clearly stand out as their combined powers cause the world, and the space-time continuum, to blur around them.
The “Forever Evil” miniseries and event march on, bringing turmoil and destruction to the DCU. In issue #2, writer Geoff Johns successfully juggles the book’s large cast and creates many great character moments, while artist David Finch shows the reader a world full of menace after the arrival of the Crime Syndicate. The issue is crammed full of storylines, but the creators have a clear plot in mind and never lose sight of it. After a month of villains’ books that featured both highs and lows, “Forever Evil” #2 serves a great example of the true potential of this event.
Final Verdict: 8.5 – Buy this one. Johns and Finch know exactly what they’re doing. And it features the phrase “indestructible butthole”.