Forever Evil #1 Review – Geoff Johns & David Finch

ForeverEvil_Teasers_2_NW_R1Finally, after wading through a prelude disguised as an event (known as Trinity War), we get the main course. Forever Evil promises big – the main heroes of the DC universe are missing, presumed dead, and the newly emerged Crime Syndicate have taken their place, turning Earth into a haven for villains. But (as the marketing material is keen to remind us) evil is relative, setting the stage for something truly special – villain on villain action. And I could not be more happier.

The series is told from Lex Luthor’s perspective, and while he may be the protagonist, he is definitely far from sympathetic. Geoff Johns toes the line here – making Luthor endearing without turning him into a hero is not a simple task but, again, speaking relatively, he may as well be a saint in this event, and Johns handles Luthor’s new position admirably.

The many other villains of the DCU make appearances throughout the issue, and while the Bat-family gets the most time to shine, we still manage to get time with others, foreshadowing character allegiances. Included is a twist you may recall was used in Marvel’s own event Civil War, but if done right can really mix things up for the DC universe hero community.

There’s something to be said about some good old fashioned villains being evil. Johns, at least initially, really nails the whole vibe of the Crime Syndicate – these guys are pure, kryptonite snorting evil. This is the rare case where over the top is the only thing that would work in this case, and based on the first issue alone, these guys ratchet it up to eleven. That being said, they seem to be pushed to the side this issue, not giving us a whole lot of time with this group, leaving their reasoning behind, and not addressing some of the major cliff-hangers from Trinity War that possibly should be answered, but these gripes are minor if this characterisation continues this way.

Following on from this, Finch’s design of the characters is truly memorable. Each of the Syndicate members has a Justice League parallel, giving the team a sense of familiarity, while deviating from the source enough to be suitably villainous. The standout here is Ultraman, Superman’s parallel, who Finch draws subtly enough that at first glace he looks like the Man of Steel, but upon closer inspection has just enough wrong with him to know somethings up.

Outside of the characters, this issue is filled with Finch’s usual rough art style, and it completely works. A world steeped in evil lends itself well to his art style, and he imbues an impressive amount of detail to each and every panel. This is Finch drawing at the top of his game.

Forever Evil #1 sets up something quite delicious, and while it remains to be seen whether this issue is an indication of where this series will go, right now it looks as if its heading in the right direction. We’ve been burned with events already this year, but Forever Evil may just restore these stories to their former glory.


Justice League #23 Review – Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis

JLALet me begin by saying that as an event, Trinity War has ultimately failed. Stories should have a definitive beginning, middle, and end. A universe-wide event like this one,  especially with the way it has been marketed, should be a stand-alone story.

However, Trinity War as part of a much larger story, lacks any semblance of an ending,  as it leads directly into Forever Evil #1, failing the basic idea of a story to begin with. What is left is a fun set up to something both exciting and interesting, but ultimately doesn’t deliver on what an event should be.

So, don’t expect a conclusion coming from Justice League #23. While it answers the question of what Pandora’s Box is – and what the overall goal of pitting the heroes against each other was – it leaves the issue with many large cliffhangers. They include the fate of an injured hero, and Shazam’s apparent transformation last issue, feeling like it belongs in the middle of an event rather than an epic finale it was poised to be. It appears that Trinity War, and Forever Evil were always intended to work together as one series, so why not market them as such? Instead it feels the series was more interested in what was to come, rather than the story it was meant to tell.

Speaking of marketing, hyping up the series as a story behind the Trinity of Sin, and how the heroes rally behind them, also proved to be the event’s downfall. With Phantom Stranger left behind much earlier in the story arc, the Question and Pandora also feel underused, getting little panel time between them. They both merely act as a guide, which could have easily been left to other characters like Madame Xanadu anyway. It seems less interested in the characters whose books feature “Trinity of Sin” in the title, than it does the actual war between the forced “trinity” of three Justice Leagues.

That said, what does happen in this issue is mighty fun. More hero on hero action is always a plus in my book, and this issue delivers by the bucket load. Ivan Reis is drawing at the top of his game, with his panels packed to the brim with brilliant fight scenes, and gorgeous detail. There does feel like there is a few too many splash pages, filling up a lot of space, but thanks to the 28 page issue – and of course the artwork – it doesn’t feel too cheap.

Outside of the action, Johns manages to fill it up with a few surprises too. The reveal of the traitor, which initially felt a bit hammy, eventually makes sense in context of the big reveal of the new villains at the end of the issue, which opens with a surprisingly funny panel. It’s good that the heroes battling each other wasn’t played out Civil War style, and instead plays with reader expectations.

As a quick aside, It’s also nice to see that Constantine is getting more space to shine in the greater scheme of things, with a particularly amusing reason why he isn’t affected by Pandora’s box tying nicely into his character. I’m liking his inclusion into these team-ups and how he reacts to working with others. Maybe the scoundrel has a heart of gold after all?

While this event does fail in the execution, what it has set up has made me more excited than anything else that DC has done since the launch of the New 52. The new villains look incredible, and the Forever Evil series sounds like its going to shake things up in a big way. It’s just a shame that DC bungled the marketing of a story that would have been better suited as a prelude, rather than a main event.