The GeeksverseREVIEW | Forever Evil #1 (DC Comics)

REVIEW | Forever Evil #1 (DC Comics)
Published on Saturday, September 7, 2013 by
The Trinity War has ended leaving a world without the Justice League in its wake. What comes along to fill the void?

Forever Evil #1 (DC, $3.99)

  • ForeverEvil01_001Written by: Geoff Johns
  • Penciled by: David Finch
  • Inked by: Richard Friend
  • Colored by: Sonia Oback
  • Lettered by: Rob Leigh
  • Publisher’s summary: 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!

I’ve dropped most of the DC books I was reading, including Justice League and Justice League of America. JLA in particular wasn’t very good because it read like it only had one purpose, which was to set up and feed into Trinity War (which I didn’t read) and later, Forever Evil. It never felt like it was establishing itself as its own entity, it was just there to push pieces across the board and get things aligned for “events.”

The end result of Trinity War from what I’ve gathered is the “death” of the Justice League (Who’re they kidding? No one really believes they’ll stay dead) at the hands of the people behind the Secret Society, revealed to be the Crime Syndicate from Earth-Three*. DC spoiled this themselves midway through Trinity War, which was a surprising move, although one that I think was deliberately done to goose declining sales.

Having the Crime Syndicate’s return to the DCU happen in its own line-spanning event makes sense, as does having the team take over the Earth in their first appearance in the New 52. Having them working behind the scenes for awhile with the Secret Society, placing the new Atom, Rhonda Pineda (a.k.a. Atomica) into the JLA as a double agent, was a masterstroke. For once the New 52 braintrust did something right.

ForeverEvil01_026The ideas are good. It’s in the the execution that the problems arise.

Parts of Forever Evil #1 work well but most don’t. Luthor seems out of character in his dealings with Thomas Kord (a hint of the inevitable Blue Beetle appearance at the end of the event). The mannerisms and antics of the Crime Syndicate, especially Ultraman’s speech, seem so over-the-top and cliché: When Aquaman’s trident is dropped, Black Manta’s first reaction is to grab it and declaim “It’s mine.” Really? That seems so childish, as does the villains squabbling over Superman’s cape. That’s how villains who’ve shown the ability and intelligence to take over a whole planet act?

And where’s the fight? Where’s the disbelief? The anger? How is Black Adam alive again? Why would the villains just roll over for the Syndicate? Because they saw the Monocle get killed? These are people that are used to fighting the Justice League, and each other, on a regular basis. I don’t buy it that when Ultraman speaks, they listen and immediately fall in line behind him.

Additionally, whoever was responsible for laying out this issue really did a poor job. There’s a four-page gatefold in the center of the book, a really a nice piece of art by David Finch, Richard Friend, and Sonia Oback, showing a lot of villains looking up at the Syndicate. The only problem is that the scene shown in the gatefold image isn’t really referenced in the writing until a couple of pages later. It took me a couple minutes to figure out what it all meant. For all the supposed planning and plotting and coordinating [and meddling—ed.] DC’s editors do and for all of Geoff John’s reputation as one of the main architects of the New 52, I don’t understand how they could miss the significant storytelling problems having a scene appear seemingly out of sequence would pose. I understand that the gatefold could only be accommodated in the exact physical middle of the issue because of the staple placement, but there had to have been an alternative method of including it in the comic without it being so disruptive and confusing to the reading experience.

foreverevilspread

ForeverEvil01_031Forever Evil isn’t all bad. The bad guys exposing Nightwing’s civilian identity to the public was a shocker and should have lasting ramifications across the DCU [I wouldn’t bet on it. Remember when Marvel had Daredevil’s and Spider-Man’s identities revealed to the public within a span of several months of each other during Civil War? Yeah, I almost forgot about it, too—ed.], but that scene did highlight that the Syndicate is all talk so far. They reveal his identity because he tried to fight them, and they say they’ll destroy the family and friends if anyone that stands up to them, echoing what Luthor said to Thomas Kord earlier in the issue (and we’re supposed to believe that Luthor is the “good” guy to the Syndicate’s evil?). They say it, but they don’t show it.

I don’t know what I was expecting from the first issue of this event. There’s a lot of set-up, but it’s not particularly interesting or well written. Hopefully the rest of the event gets better. I’ll be interested in seeing what the lasting effects, if any, there are from this. We know the Justice League will be back, it’s just a matter of when and how.

* One of the things that DC’s old Multiverse (largely discarded after 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths) allowed was the complete reversal of the natural order and hierarchy of the good guys and the bad guys. In the alternate universe of Earth-Three, for example, the characters readers normally recognized as members of the Justice League were evil members of a group called the Crime Syndicate and Superman nemesis Lex Luthor was the lone good guy. With the return of the Multiverse in 2006, it was only a matter of time before the Crime Syndicate (and that has always struck me as such a stupid name for a group that has completely taken over their world) reared their heads in the New 52.

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