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Forever Evil has reached its final month. The next quartet of weeks will be the ones that wrap up the various plot lines and threads of the half a year long storyline. Yet, even with its passing it has still been able to pull out some fresh new twists and punches. Forever Evil #6 not only leads the reader into the finale, but leaves them wanting more. Since the issue has already garnered a lot press, spoilers will be liberally used.
There is one thing above all else that impressed me about this issue, and one that I am sure many have noticed and noted while reading. This aspect being David Finch’s artwork. While Finch has been dragging the main miniseries down with some of his line work and anatomy this month’s installment really showed a definite stepping up of his game. The figures, minute details, and clear expressions all began to coalesce and work in his favor. Of course it’s not to say that Finch has turned around and become fantastic, but the pages are now much more readable and the flow from panel to panel much clearer. The widened breath of expressions has also been quite the plus, as it gives the reader more to work with emotionally.
The design on Alexander Luthor, who makes his first clear appearance in the “New 52” with this issue after months of having his face hidden under a bag, was also a very nice touch. One of my first impressions about this event when it premiered last September was about how great the redesigns of the Crime Syndicate turned out to be. They were retooled by Finch to become a quite nicely done combination of classic and modern into something that was elevated above both. Putting aside other revelations about Alexander at the moment, his “powered up” costume is an incredibly faithful variation of his original pre-crisis outfit. While it is also reminiscent of the “New 52” version of “Shazam”, it is also a definite callback, with magnificently placed “L” in the middle of the chest to satiate old school fans, and it plays nicely.
Outside of the costume, a significantly minor but still completely great touch was the design decision to give Alexander a full head of red hair and a matching beard. It’s silly, but it is the small things that make up the differences between the two Earths, and it has been a shame that in recent years Alexander has been portrayed as bald as Luthor which somewhat defeats the point. Speaking of defeating the point, Alexander has already begun to generate a lot of controversy within the DC Comics fandom for coming off as an insane power hungry madman, and indeed the final pages of this issue are him issuing a threat to all characters, Injustice League and Crime Syndicate. While the newly introduced aspect of him being tied to magic makes sense (Lex/Science so Alexander/Magic), the idea that the usually pretty good Alexander is now the “evil” version is not sitting well with most – and Johns has only one issue to salvage that.
Aside from Alexander, who was truly the big draw of this issue, Johns also constructed some very well done character moments for much of the cast within these pages that really are deserving of notice. Perhaps the favorite of many so far has to have been the actual fight between Captain Cold and Johnny Quick, which has been anticipated since the start of this event. While Johnny Quick has been characterized as somewhat of an unstoppable force so far, making his way across the DCU with Atomica, he had yet to cross paths with Cold – a man who fought the methodical Flash to a standstill. In essence Cold’s take down of Johnny is both completely understandable and inevitable, but overall a very fitting end for such a vile character. I am sure it will end up as a highlight on many retrospectives.
The second most emotionally gripping and/or exciting set-piece was clearly the interaction between Batman and Nightwing, who has been one of the tentpoles of this event even though he has only been seen sparingly. Yet, despite the few amount of pages dedicated to him, Johns’ dialogue between the two and the fear of Nightwing’s imminent death is palpable and executed in a very graceful manner. Johns is also able to hint that his seeming death may be able to be undone before the end of this event. Other instances are just the small bits of interaction between the Injustice League, such as Cold being hilariously put off by Black Manta’s cold blooded methodology, and the beginning stirs of the all out brawl with the Crime Syndicate.
It’s been a long time coming, and there has been considerable blow back from fans about the pacing of the event. The main mini series has taken 5 issues to get up to this point and while worth it, it has taken it’s toll. All that’s left is for Johns to weave together a suitably bombastic finale – his specialty for events. As the final issue begin to pour out, none will be as anticipated as Forever Evil #7, which could make or break Geoff Johns’ villain magnum opus. A small misstep for some, as with Alexander Luthor, could endanger the kind words for this story. On a solo note, a personal favorite aspect of this issue was a brief cameo of the Legion of Doom’s HQ from the old Superfriends show, with the Injustice League inside it.