Forever Evil #1
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by David Finch, Richard Friend, Sonia Oback
Lettering by Rob Leigh
Published by DC Comics
Review by Richard Gray
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
It would be slightly inaccurate to say that Forever Evil spins directly out of “Trinity War,” for they really are one in the same event. The non-ending to last week’s Justice League #23 revealed the machinations of Earth’s 3 Crime Syndicate, and this issue picks up shortly after that bombshell. So begins DC’s biggest crossover since the start of the New 52, with quite literally every bad guy and gal taking over their hero’s title for the month. It sets out to answer the question of what happens if the villains win, and the result was inevitably going to be an anti-climax.
Nothing sinks a project faster than overloading it with too many villains, and Geoff Johns treads a very fine line in this introduction to the new world order, which for all intents and purposes is the new (new) status quo for the DC Universe(s). This core series follows the banding together of all the world’s Big Bads, and it is immediately evident that reading this book in isolation of what has come before is almost impossible. Cramming every panel of each page with exposition, including how the Syndicate has taken control, Johns does manage to make his villains play well together, but it still relies on a vast amount of foreknowledge.
With almost no heroes to be seen, and the presumption that the Justice League is dead, Johns boldly conveys his narrative through the outside perspective of Lex Luthor. As with many of the “Villains Month” titles, Luthor reflects on a scene from his childhood as he watches his carefully constructed world fall apart. It’s more devastating watching this happen to Lex than it would be a hero, as we have no corresponding assurance that justice will prevail. As Johns repeatedly dangles the fate of a certain member of the Bat Family in front of us, one long rumoured to be doomed, Forever Evil is a dark beast indeed.
David Finch has undoubtedly been one of the best go-to artists for event art, and from the opening panels his work is cinematic. Following Johns’ lead, each of the heroes (including Luthor) are kept in isolation, which contrasts nicely with the very full double-splash reveal of the assembled villains. He certainly gets to have a bit of fun with the Earth-3 redesigns, which are mostly ‘darker‘ versions of the New 52 characters mixed with old school DC collarless designs. Coupled with Friend and Oback’s dark inks and shadows, Finch has laid out a dark landscape that epitomises despair.
It’s this sense of despair that has us treading cautiously into this grim territory. Johns has given us the solid foundations of an epic event, just as he did with “Trinity War” before it. Yet this has a familiar feeling to it, and it’s almost like starting over after coming so close to something that felt like a conclusion to two years worth of questions. With villain origin stories popping up all across the line, perhaps a New Dark 52 is on the horizon.