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Mild Mannered Reviews - Special Comics

Forever Evil #1 Forever Evil #1

Forever Evil #1

Scheduled to arrive in stores: September 4, 2013

Cover date: November 2013


Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: David Finch
Inker: Richard Friend

Michael Bailey Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

Forever Evil #1 Forever Evil #1 Lex Luthor and Thomas Kord discuss Lex's recent troubles with the law which have now been resolved and the fact that everything they see outside of the helicopter they are riding in once again belongs to LexCorp. Thomas is flattered that Lex invited him to Metropolis but sadly has to inform Lex that he can't sell to him. Lex not only threatens Thomas Kord but his entire family as well and is quite specific in how he will destroy Thomas' wife and son. As Lex hands Thomas the necessary contracts to sign the entire city goes dark and the helicopter crashes into Lex's headquarters. Lex survives the crash only to see the words THE WORLD IS OURS appear not only on the broken tablet that landed next to him and on the monitor of his desk as well.

Nightwing arrives in Gotham City intent on dropping off Mr. Zsasz and then heading right back to Chicago. He talks with Batgirl about how crazy Zsasz is and after Batgirl suggests that they meet up without the masks on Gotham, like Metropolis goes dark and Nightwing's ears ring as the words THE WORLD IS OURS blasts over his headset. Overhead he sees a caped woman land and rip open the doors of Arkham Asylum. Before he can do anything Nightwing is attacked from behind by someone he mistakes for Batman and is taken captive by two mysterious yet familiar figures.

In Metropolis Lex Luthor is shocked to see a man he thinks is Superman fly into the building and retrieve the Kryptonite Lex had been keeping there. In Central City the Rogues attempt to break the Trickster out of Iron Heights but are stopped by someone that has the same powers as the Flash. In Belle Reeve prison Amanda Waller and Black Manta are shocked to see two men that resemble Green Lantern and Firestorm break into the complex. Back in Metropolis the supposed Superman crushes the Kryptonite in his bare hands, bakes the powder with his heat vision and then sniffs it, which once again makes him the strongest there is. Lex sees that the supposed Superman has a U not an S on his chest.

Forever Evil #1 Forever Evil #1 Back at Arkham Two-Face, the Riddler and Poison Ivy are invited to join a Secret Society by the Scarecrow. Two-Face is of two minds on the subject but they agree and are transported to the remains of the Justice League Watchtower which has crashed into Happy Harbor. They join dozens of other villains that have also been chosen but the meeting is far from friendly and the villains very nearly start to fight amongst themselves. Their hosts break up the fight before it can start and with the help of the cyborg named Grid they transmit their message around the world. Ultraman introduces the rest of the Crime Syndicate (Owlman, Superwoman, Power Ring, Johnny Quick and Deathstorm) and inform the villains and the rest of the planet that they come from another world which they ruled until it turned against them so they destroyed it. Now they seek a new world to rule and claim to have killed the Justice League.

The Monocle tries to call the CSA out claiming that it's just Superman with a U on his chest and is killed for his troubles. Ultraman declares that this world belongs to the Syndicate and if the villains fall in line it can be their world too. To further prove their superiority they haul up Nightwing and reveal his identity to the world. Ultraman tells everyone watching the transmission that the CSA will track down everyone Dick Grayson loves and destroy them adding that this is what will happen to all that oppose them. The villains assembled before them will become the CSA's secret society...their army against a world that fights against natural selection. The villains were given their power for a reason and if they join with the CSA the world will be theirs forever.

The villains disperse and outside of the wrecked Watchtower Ultraman feels the sting of the sun. He flies into space and Lex Luthor watches from his office building as Ultraman moves the moon out of orbit to create a total eclipse of the sun. Lex Luthor has one question....where is Superman?

4Story - 4: Much like Two-Face I am of two minds on this story.

On one hand this was a solid way to kick off this series. The opening scene with Lex Luthor and Thomas Kord was amazing. By going into detail how Lex would not only kill Thomas but destroy his entire family puts him back on the map of being the villain he was always meant to be. This wasn't the Lex that ran during the Brainiac invasion or the Hannibal Lecter clone that acted all creepy to Superman during H'El on Earth. This was pure John Byrne, evil businessman Lex and I loved it.

It also served to establish Lex as one of the major players of the story. To interrupt his story with the Crime Syndicate starting a ruckus was a great way to shock the reader into thinking that something big was happening. The constant use of THE WORLD IS OURS reminded me of the YOU ARE NOT ALONE message from MAN OF STEEL. I found myself getting more and more sucked into the story as society fell apart and these mysterious beings began freeing the worst the super-criminal community has to offer in addition to kidnapping Nightwing. To be fair I knew it was the Crime Syndicate but someone picking up this book cold were given a neat little mystery.

The final revelation of the Crime Syndicate and their ultimate plan was great as well. This comic had a real disaster movie vibe while also establishing what a threat these beings are. Their world stood against them so they claim to have destroyed it. Ultraman's speech brought home the idea that the Syndicate was in every way the opposite of the League and had a similar tone to Lex's speech at the beginning of the issue. While the super-heroes protected the world from the bullies and the villains, both normal and super-powered, these super-villains are the very embodiment of might is right and only the strong survive. It was a rallying cry for every bad guy on the planet to use the powers that were given to them to subjugate humanity and then, to cap everything off, Ultraman moves the moon into an orbit that best suits him.

It was everything I want from the start of a major event comic.

There was one element of this story and series that bugged me and I will be the first to admit that that element is completely on me and my tastes as a reader. FOREVER EVIL is a great premise but in looking at the way this first issue was structured it seems that Lex Luthor is being cast in the role of the protagonist of the story... the man that is going to lead the fight against the invading super villains and this seems to be a running theme with how Geoff Johns tells a story. I am not insulting his abilities as a writer because I enjoyed the way this issue was written and I have enjoyed a lot of what Geoff has produced since the year 2000. Nor I am not doubting his storytelling skills as there was a time where if Geoff Johns was writing it I was reading it. In fact the main and strongest criticism I have had with his writing starting with his FLASH run and continuing through his GREEN LANTERN and SUPERMAN work is that he falls in love with his villains to the point where the stories become about them and not the hero of the book.

Don't get me wrong... I like the fact that he puts a lot of thought into the villains he writes. It makes for a more compelling read. As Dan DiDio is fond of saying in the various documentaries that have popped up on the direct-to-DVD animated films over the years the greater the villain the greater the hero. A well rounded villain is a better villain. My problem is that sometimes Johns will take a villain and make him so relatable and so likable that the line between hero and villain gets blurry. Sinestro is Hal Jordan's greatest enemy and because Johns tweaked his backstory to make the Guardians of the Universe such jerks you almost side with Sinestro. It's not that Sinestro is a bad guy. He's just fighting against something that is a greater threat and going about it the wrong way. Johns did something similar with General Zod. Zod wasn't an evil solider that wanted to take over Krypton because he wanted to rule the planet. No, he was a good soldier that saw the ruling council as a threat to Krypton and was sent to the Phantom Zone for his troubles.

Then there's Lex Luthor. Outside of UP, UP AND AWAY, the story that kicked off the Post-Infinite Crisis era of Superman Lex was never really a villain. He teamed up with Superman to fight off the evil Kryptonians that escaped from the Phantom Zone. He was one of the major players in BLACKEST NIGHT and fought against the Black Lanterns. Even his turn in ADVENTURE COMICS wasn't Superboy fighting Lex Luthor, it was more Lex showing up and being scary. I never got the sense from any of those stories that Lex was a bad guy. He was just misunderstood. Johns took the idea that Lex sees himself as a great man that could have saved the world if not for the alien and ran with it to the point that Lex didn't seem evil. It felt as if Johns was saying that Lex's fall was Superman's fault and to be fair there is historical precedenceto support that idea, especially in the Silver and Bronze Age. The problem is while I want to sympathize with the villains I read about I don't want to empathize with them and I also want them to be, at the end of the day, bad guys. It doesn't matter what their motivation is when you scrape away all of the justifications these are evil men and women doing evil deeds and the heroes need to stop them.

In taking all of these feelings into consideration I am a bit worried that FOREVER EVIL is going to turn into the natural extension of what Johns likes to do with his villains. He brings in even worse criminals, takes the big guns off the table and it seems to be up to Lex Luthor to save the day until Superman and friends show up in the final act to give us the fight that we really want to see. Again, to be fair a lot of these feelings are on me as a reader. For the people that have just started reading DC books thanks to the New 52 all of this is probably awesome and I could be completely off base. Such things are possible.

Having written all of that I do want to say again that I liked this first issue quite a bit. The nagging feelings I just described are going to be pushed to the back of my mind as this event unfolds because I really want to have fun reading this comic. As much as I want the villains to be villains I will admit that it is fun seeing the bad guys run amok. Also Johns seems to have put a lot of thought into this new Crime Syndicate and so far I like it more than the CSA that Grant Morrison put together over a decade ago. Deathstorm as a lot of potential as does his relationship with Power Ring. Johnny Quick seems to be quite the jackass that is in it for the fame. Power Ring is very unsure of himself. It's like Johns is taking the worst qualities of Wally West and Kyle Rayner and grafting them on to these characters. That should bug me and on one level it does and on another I think it will serve this story. Did I really want to see Ultraman freebasing Kryptonite? No, but it made for a shocking scene.

Oh, and if Thomas Kord has a son and his name is Ted does that mean that there might be a Ted Kord in the New 52? Probably not but it was a random thought I had while reading the issue.

FOREVER EVIL looks to be a fun ride. Hopefully it will continue in this direction.

4Art - 4: Overall I liked the art in this issue. I became a fan of David Finch over on NEW AVENGERS and for the most part I like the work he has been doing for DC over the past few years. His style is heavy and dark, which suits the story Johns is telling. Some of the detail work was a little wonky, especially when it came to the faces of the characters but overall this was everything you want in a major event story. It was cinematic but it didn't feel like it was trying to be a movie. Finch also knows when to go big, like the splash page of the destroyed Watchtower, and when to go small like Nightwing bringing Mr. Zsasz into custody. Finch was a good choice for this project and I'm looking forward to seeing him on the rest of the series.

4Cover Art - 4 (Main Cover): I like the overall design of this cover but while some of the characters look great like Sinestro and Lex Luthor others don't. Black Adam looks off as does Bizarro. Having written that this is the sort of cover you want to lead off with because it drives home the point that this series is about the villains.

5Cover Art - 5 (Ultraman): This is a solid piece of art and for once we have a Superman like character with the heat vision thing going on and it totally works. This is an outstanding cover.

5Cover Art - 5 (Superwoman): Again, this is a fantastic variant cover. Superwoman looks great and I love the fact that the lasso is swirling around her.

5Cover Art - 5 (Owlman): What sells this cover is the 3D effect the art has. Owlman looks great but those... what does he call them... owlarangs? Is that right? Doesn't matter. The art leaps off this cover. Ivan Reis and Joe Prado knocked all of these variants out of the park.

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2013

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