The “Trinity War” is over, but the end merely brought the dawn of Forever Evil. As the first major event comic of the New 52 kicks off today, so changes the New 52 in some major ways. Familiar new villains take the stage, allegiances are tested, major players are teased, and oh yeah, there’s that one big reveal right at the very end.
We took a look through Forever Evil #1 to pick out the most relevant and important points of the issue, and what might have more play or consequence down the line. So whether you're reading along, or holding off and just want to keep up-to-date, we have you covered. SPOILERS ON from this point forward, folks.
Crime Syndicate is like the Justice League - but Not
While the Crime Syndicate of America, the new rulers of the New 52 Earth, look awfully familiar, there are some definite changes to the characters, most of which are simply "opposites" for the backwards Earth they hail from.
Ultraman is weakened by the yellow sun of Earth, and derives his power from Kryptonite… which he snorts. Johnny Quick’s speed seems to work more like Reverse Flash’s, draining energy and life from around him. Power Ring is driven by fear. Heck, even Superwoman’s lasso has barbs on it, just for that extra little dose of evil.
There are a couple of times when members of the Crime Syndicate (which is not identified by name here) are mistaken for their heroic doppelgangers in this issue, to terrible end results: Nightwing gets beaten down by Owlman, and Ultraman, when mistaken for Superman, vaporizes a Z-list villain called “Monocle” on the spot.
The Justice League is "dead," The Teen Titans are our only hope?
Look, no one believes the entire Justice League – all three versions – is dead. After Forever Evil ends, DC Comics will continue publishing superhero books, and they’ll continue to star the likes of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman.
That said, it’s clear the Crime Syndicate has done something to them – most likely trapped them on the Earth-3 they originate from – and is claiming to have killed them all (again, Earth-3 being pretty much a dead world, they could be making the classic villain mistake of confusing left for dead with dead itself). Regardless, dead or not, they were certainly conquered – the CSA delivered Aquaman’s trident, Wonder Woman’s lasso, and Superman’s cape as proof.
There’s very strong setup in this first issue for the Teen Titans involvement in stepping up and saving the day. Red Robin’s team, along with Batgirl (with Barbara’s continual appearances in this issue, look for her playing a major role, too), is the only set of heroes in this book (outside of Nightwing who, as we’ll note later, does not fair well). Writer Geoff Johns has a particular affinity for the team of young heroes – he revived them in 2003 after the young heroes had mostly been part of Young Justice for a few years prior – and this opening salvo seems to indicate they will have a major role in Forever Evil. Sure, it was only two panels here, but it was at the apex of importance during the issue – and it was just really nice to see a non-screaming-with-anger Wonder Girl call Tim Drake “Robin” again. We know from Teen Titans writer Scott Lobdell that they'll be "indisposed" and doing a little time traveling during this story, but also that what they do in the future has very clear and direct ramifications for the present day story, and this certainly points them out nicely.
Ted Kord Almost Makes his New 52 Debut
Since his death in the pre-New 52 Countdown to Infinite Crisis in 2005, fans have been waiting for Ted Kord to rise again. The second Blue Beetle in old chronology, Kord’s positive attitude and ingenuity have been missed in the DC Comics superhero world for eight years now.
While he didn’t actually appear in Forever Evil #1, Ted was mentioned – well, mostly. A man identified as Thomas Kord is seen early in the issue chatting with Lex Luthor, and refusing to sell him Kord Industries. One of the reasons? “My grandfather built this company, my mother ran it, now I do, and one day my son will.”
His son is living just North of Chicago in Evanston, IL, attending Northwestern. Thomas dies in this issue, giving us some great motivation for a son to rise and be a hero. Could this be the first real inkling of hope for Blue Beetle/Ted Kord fans in almost a decade? With the Justice Leagues missing, the DC Universe could certainly use one more hero to help save the day.
Lex Luthor Thinks the World Needs Superman
“This is a job for Superman. So where the hell is he?”
Those are words DC Comics fan never expected to read coming out of Lex Luthor’s mouth. But here and now, with the Crime Syndicate in power, the villains assembled, Lex Luthor – who, remember, has never viewed himself as a villain, thinks the heroes should be stepping up. This is about as clear of foreshadowing (as many of our other points here have been) as you can get. As seen on the cover of this very issue, Luthor in his powersuit is something coming sooner rather than later. With no Superman, it’s time for a super man to step up, and Luthor is ready.
Of course, this could also be foreshadowing something more than just Luthor taking the fight to the CSA – maybe he’ll be the one to find the Justice League?
It’s also worth noting that Lex witnessed Ultraman stealing his Kryptonite, crushing it, and snorting it for strength. In a way, Kryptonite is still Ultraman’s weakness – he needs it as much as Superman feared it.
Nightwing's identity as Dick Grayson: Revealed!
Of course, this was by far the biggest moment of the book. Yes, there had been rumors, but this was the moment we saw just how much control the CSA has. Being mirror-images of the heroes we know and love, the members of the Crime Syndicate know things about our world other villains couldn’t. For example, they know that Batman’s first protégé was Dick Grayson, now operating on “this world” as Nightwing.
After capturing him outside Arkham Asylum, the Crime Syndicate drags Nightwing up in front of the assembled villains of the world and unmasks him. When the world (played here by Lex Luthor) collectively says “Who is Richard Grayson?” the CSA reveals his driver’s license, relevant facts about him, and promise to hunt down all those close to Grayson in revenge for Nightwing thinking he could oppose them.
Nightwing’s identity being revealed could have far-reaching implications. After all, Richard Grayson is the ward of Bruce Wayne – he has close personal relationships with other members of the Bat-family. It shouldn’t be too much of a leap to connect the dots and start figuring out some of these other IDs for some of the smarter or more inquisitive residents of the DCU.
Either way, no matter what, Dick’s life and mission are irreparably changed, unless he can take a page out of Spidey’s book and have Dr. Fate change the memories of the entire world.