The 48-page finale to Forever Evil promised to have ramifications in the DCU, even though they might have hit a little later than expected.
Although April issues of most DC titles took place after Forever Evil, effectively spoiling the story's aftermath, there were still a few surprises — and threads that were left open for future stories. Written by DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns with art by Ivan Reis
Let's look at a few – but be warned: There be spoilers ahead for Forever Evil #7 and Justice League #30!
Lex Luthor Show
Since we already knew the heroes succeeded in defeated the Crime Syndicate, the real surprise in Forever Evil #7 came from who did most of the defeating — Lex Luthor.
Although Alexander Luthor, the former hooded prisoner, went all "MAZAHS" on Deathstorm and killed him, it's Prime Earth Lex Luthor who kills Alex.
And then he squashes Atomica like a bug.
Lex also defeats Ultraman, with help from Black Adam and Sinestro (who work together to move the moon out of the way, revealing the sun and weakening Ultraman).
But the final page of Forever Evil #7 is the real shocker, when the issue finally reveals the villain who destroyed Earth 3, and it's none other than a power-hungry, New 52 version of the Anti-Monitor.
As long-time DC fans know, the Anti-Monitor was (in pre-New 52 continuity) the world-consuming villain behind the legendary 1985 mini-series Crisis on Infinite Earths, which reset continuity and eliminated the multiverse.
Since that famous Crisis storyline, DC has published a few other "Crisis" comics, and many industry watchers (including a few of us at Newsarama) have pointed out that April 2015 is the 30th anniversary of the original Crisis.
With DC making moves to end its major storylines in March, there's a lot of speculation about DC launching a major event in April to not only commemorate the 1985 story.
With the Anti-Monitor now confirmed as part of the New 52 universe — and with him hungry for more universes to consume — it certainly adds fuel to the speculation fire for an April 2015 "Crisis."
But it's also noteworthy that someone is helping the Anti-Monitor. "You have consumed all the power you can from this universe," said an off-panel figure. "But I will find you another universe to consume, Anti-Monitor."
Also, it looks like there will be a clash between the Anti-Monitor and Darkseid, as the final words uttered in Forever Evil #7 had the Anti-Monitor saying, "Darkseid will be mine!"
There've been a slew of hints about Darkseid and Apokolips being important to the future of both Prime Earth and Earth 2. We already know that Darkseid is the key figure behind the current, evil Superman-driven battle on Earth 2, which is tied to not only the Earth 2 series, but also the Futures End and Earth 2: World's End weeklies.
Darkseid is also being utilized in the upcoming Batman and Robin storyline that begins with Robin Rising: Omega in July. According to the writer of those comics, Peter Tomasi, the Robin-centric story will tie-in to Apokolips in a way that "will most definitely reverberate within the DCU."
We know that Darkseid is not only aware of the multiverse, but he's been shown attacking various alternate Earths throughout the multiverse, supposedly looking for different versions of Superman that he can enslave (and we know he succeeded, so far, in brainwashing Superman of Earth 2 to do his bidding).
As DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio told Newsarama, Darkseid and the New Gods "are what we call a singularity — a single form within all of the multiverse. So while you have multiple interpretations of every other character in these other dimensions and other worlds, the New Gods — there's only one version of the New Gods, and they exist across all planes."
Now it's been revealed that Darkseid isn't the only one traveling the multiverse — there are a mysterious, off-panel figure and an Anti-Monitor threatening DC's multiverse as well.
Alexander Luthor Jr.
In Forever Evil #7, we also finally found out who fathered Superwoman's baby — Alexander Luthor of Earth 3.
Although Alexander, the deranged, alternate version of Lex Luthor, was killed in Forever Evil #7 — Lex himself, no less — Superwoman is still around, and she's still carrying Earth 3 Alex Luthor's spawn in her super-tummy.
We assume that means the unborn child will eventually be named Alexander Luthor Jr., a name from DC's past. And although Superwoman lives, and Ultraman is also alive (and imprisoned), it's going to be very interesting to find out what happens with this potentially super-super-powerful Alex Luthor Jr.
Readers may remember that Alex Jr. was both a good guy and bad guy in the former DC Universe — first helping to save Prime Earth in 1985's Crisis on Infinite Earths, then trying to destroy is in 2005's Infinite Crisis.
If DC was to have another Crisis, what role might this powerful baby play?
Owlman At Large
Forever Evil #7 also showed that Owlman was feeling awfully lonely after losing his home on Earth 3 and finding Earth 3 Alfred dead.
Toward the end of the issue's battle between heroes and villains, Owlman desperately begs Dick Grayson to team up with him.
"I'm not here for the syndicate," he says. "I want you to win. My Gotham is gone. Alfred is dead. You're all I have left.
"I'm not giving up on you and I being a team again."
So Owlman's out there in the Prime Earth, apparently hoping to get together with Dick Grayson. But he might have some problems with that, because Dick is going to be in hiding, playing the part of super-spy in the upcoming Grayson series...
Dick and Bruce's Secrets
In Forever Evil, as DC had already revealed, Dick Grayson isn't actually dead, even though readers were led to believe he was at the end of issue #6. In this final issue, Lex Luthor gives him a shot of adrenalin, and his heart starts beating again.
But after all the fighting is finished, readers are also shown a scene in issue #7 involving Batman and Nightwing that sets up the next chapter in Dick Grayson's story.
Batman says the fact that people think Nightwing's dead gives him the perfect opportunity to complete a secret mission.
"I'm not going to hide," Dick says to Bruce, and that's the way it's left in Forever Evil. But of course, we already know Dick will go into hiding by next week's issue of Nightwing, joining the ranks of the international organization Spyral.
But that isn't the only secret that Batman shares in issue #7. After Cyborg shows up — having defeated Grid — he announces that only someone with an "emotional tie" to Wonder Woman can use her lasso to free the heroes.
Batman says, "Give me the lasso, Vic," and proceeds to use his "emotional ties" to Wonder Woman.
Huh? Batman has emotional ties to Wonder Woman?
"We've known each other a long time," Batman says — but Catwoman suspects more (and so do we), as she says, "Is that really it, Batman?"
Did something happen between Batman and Wonder Woman in the last five to six years, that we might have missed? Or does Batman just have unrequited feelings for Superman's girlfriend? Either way, this could spell trouble in the Trinity.
Good Guy Lex
The issue makes it clear that Lex Luthor is turning over a new leaf — and Justice League #30, also out this week, reinforces that idea. Lex has not only built and graciously handed over control of a new satellite Watchtower for the Justice League, but he's also asked — respectfully — to be part of the team.
We already know that Lex does, indeed, become part of the Justice League, but the end of issue #30 revealed that the former villain's acceptance into the team will probably have something to do with him now knowing that Batman's secret identity is Bruce Wayne. At the end of Justice League #30, Lex shows up at Wayne Manor and tells Alfred that he's there to see Batman. Could it be blackmail? Or just a mutual back-scratching between millionaires?
Despite the potential blackmail, it really does seem like Lex wants to do the right thing.
Remember that Kryptonite that was inside Superman's brain ever since Trinity War? The one that Atomica put into his brain, which made him sick?
Well, Lex Luthor, an allegedly super-brain surgeon, removes the Kryptonite and saves Superman's life. Mull that one over for a few minutes…
Along with all his aforementioned altruistic moves, readers are also shown that Lex actually has a surviving sister, Lena, about whom he feels remorse for failing to save her. And the relationship he formed with the new Bizarro, who unfortunately died during Forever Evil, drives him to try to recreate the monster, just as flawed as he was.
And perhaps most shocking, it was revealed that Lex is telling the truth about wanting to be a good guy now. In Justice League #30, Lex allows Wonder Woman to wrap her lasso around his wrists, and the truth comes out. Sure, he admits that his wish to turn good is partly motivated by the fact that he's an egomaniac, but Lex seems to really want to do the right thing.
Is Lex really a hero now? And how long will it last?
The other villains who united against the Crime Syndicate are less interested in being heroes now — Sinestro and Black Adam laugh at Lex's suggestion they wipe their records clean, flying away. And Black Manta is just glad that Aquaman is back for him to torment.
However, Len Snart can't fly away, and we have to assume he's at least a little more interested in being a hero, since we know he'll eventually join Lex's new Justice League — as will the new Shazam.
Ted Kord Returns
Forever Evil #7 also has a scene where Lex is all gracious and nice to a young Ted Kord, even though the youth gave Lex every opportunity to go all "greedy-and-business-takeover" Lex on him.
This Ted Kord is an expert in nanotechnology, having already created "drones the size of an insect." And the T-shirt he's wearing has a logo for his company, Kord Industries, that is the shape of the original universe's Blue Beetle logo.
(Newsarama readers should also remember that Johns told Newsarama a few months ago that Ted would return to the DCU in Forever Evil #7, and would play "a role in Justice League post-Forever Evil.")
Crisis To Come?
With all these new developments in the New 52 spinning out of Forever Evil #7, it's difficult to guess the details of what's coming from all these hints. However, the "Crisis" mentioned above certainly seems like more of a possibility now that the New 52 has an Anti-Monitor. And lest we forget, Johns wrote the last Crisis comic that tied into an anniversary — 10 years ago when DC celebrated the 1985 series' 20th — with 2005's Infinite Crisis.
When Newsarama asked DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio about the possibility of an event starting in April, his answer pointed toward something big coming that month. And his nervous laughter when we pointed out the upcoming "Crisis" anniversary didn't do much to squelch the current Crisis speculation.
If DC is planning a Crisis in April 2015, after all the weeklies end, and if Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor are both involved, could this mimic the 1985 series by changing continuity? Although DC executives have said many times that the New 52 is here to stay, fans have been talking about a the possibility of another reboot ever since the last one happened in 2011.
Would a Crisis that starts in April be finished in September 2015, marking the fourth anniversary of the New 52? And would DC actually go through with another reboot — maybe combining the best parts of its New 52 universe and the most-missed parts from the old one?
That's probably a bit far-fetched, but with an Anti-Monitor in the mix, just about anything is possible. And if nothing else, Forever Evil delivered on its promises to shake things up enough to get people talking.