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After a month of waiting DC Comics finally continues the story of Forever Evil! The world is now firmly under the thumb of the Crime Syndicate – but who will stand against them and, more importantly, who will succeed?
This second issue carries a lot less thrust and forward motion than the first chapter by a noticeable margin. For what it was able to accomplish the start of Forever Evil was lined with major plot developments and teases, yet this latest installment stalls everything down considerably. While that may sound like a bad thing, it really isn’t – after such a large-scale kickstart it serves a great deal of benefit to slow down and pace things from there. Aside from this main event title there are 6 or so other direct tie-ins that deal with several of the important aspects of the series – so this was a perfect way to assess what exactly this mini will cover.
Forever Evil #2, out of the other possible plot threads it could have followed through, simply focuses on Lex Luthor and the Crime Syndicate. Some might note that the Teen Titans are featured prominently – but they are simply a plot device and a means to an end. The Crime Syndicate, outside of the recent Secret Society one-shot that was a part of “Villains Month”, finally gets some real character moments both individually and as a team. The whole conceit of an “evil Justice League” that is still somehow able to work together is one that has a great deal of stuff to be mined, and Johns has not lost his ability to do exactly that when it comes to this group.
Owlman, Superwoman, and Ultraman come out on top since Johns adheres spectacularly to their classic dynamics and structure. Caught in a tempestuous love triangle and an intensely vitriolic partnership there is always a sense of tension and unease when the three are on panel together, which is captured beautifully in some key moments in the issue. It’s all compounded by a startling development wherein Owlman and Superwoman are having a child together – and must keep it a secret from Ultraman, which adds an unbelievable amount of depth to their rather stock-ish character types and also creates a charming sensibility with them just trying to make the best world for their baby – and that vision just so happens to be for an evil one.
Johnny Quick, Atomica, Deathstorm, and Power Ring all get somewhat renewed characters, which still manage to play off with great care and impact. The first two have been described as the “Bonnie & Clyde” of the series and prove that claim with their fight with the Teen Titans, which is pretty much what they were there for and they summarily leave to do their own plot in their own series. Deathstorm and Power Ring are the most changed, for the better, in a now very eerie doctor/patient relationship. So, with the main antagonist set the rest of the issues focused on Lex Luthor and the revelation that there was only one person who has what it takes to rescue the Earth. He's been preparing for this moment for the last 5 years after all.
The opening monologue that starts the issue is classic Luthor and Johns has not lost his tough for the megalomaniac. While supposedly the hero of the series the whole point is that even the protagonists are still villains and the Lex sections do a great job of conveying that to the reader – as well as introducing the “New 52” version of Bizarro to the series. It may seem underwhelming, but we get blatant hints as to how Luthor’s “Injustice League”, or “Legion of Doom” as fans have come to call them, will come together in the next issue. My only outright problem with this issue once again falls on the shoulders of David Finch, who makes several practical mistakes in this issue, but also on his colorist/inker – who only serve to emphasize the problems with the art. Though I will concede that Finch was able to construct a very well done Bizarro – visually.
This month will see the premieres of the various Forever Evil tie-ins, all of which I man rather excited for. Johns has shown some of his best Justice League work, not related to Shazam! That is, in this series and I hope that is a trend that continues on as the story unfolds. The main hook of this story is yet to come and while I liked the use of a somewhat slow sophomore outing – in a big event like this the ball needs to get rolling again fast. Besides, the match ups are to good to leave alone for too long, as there are only 7 issues to this entire thing.