FOREVER EVIL HC
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by David Finch and Richard Friend
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: September 3, 2013
The Justice League is dead. The Crime Syndicate, ruling super-humans of an evil parallel world, have crossed over. All the villains of our Earth unite in their service. All, except the worst of the worst. Led by Lex Luthor, this group of arch-enemies is all that stands between Ultraman’s gang of rivals and total devastation of yet another Earth.
The Justice League is dead. Long live the Justice League.
Never let it be said that nothing changes in the DC Universe. From the very moment Wonder Woman first kissed Superman in the pages of Justice League, readers had an inkling that the New 52 was not going to be a repeat of what had come before.
Sure, a lot of things are standard. Batman is still the product of a double murder that claimed his childhood. Superman is still the alien boy who grew up in the heartland to be the greatest hero ever. And Lex Luthor is the savior of all humanity who ends up leading the Justice League.
And when you sit down with Forever Evil as a complete story, it’s amazing to read from this very particular point of view: that of Lex Luthor’s transition into the hero we are now experiencing on a monthly basis in the pages of Justice League and Batman and Robin. Mind you, Geoff Johns doesn’t give us just one revelatory moment, but for fans that speculated this was just another take on Norman Osborn’s rise to the Avengers, think again.
Johns actually makes the transition somewhat steady, with a few of those key poignant moments he’s come to be known for in epic tales. Bizarro, Luthor’s own makeshift, undercooked Superman, is at the center of many of these moments, as is another character most post-Crisis fans would do backflips to see returned. And while there is no single revelation, you can almost believe that Luthor begins his march toward the side of angels in very small steps. Is he altruistic? Certainly not. Is he a great inspiration to his allies? That’s pretty questionable. But is he genuinely interested in defending the world? Well, yeah, believe it or not.
David Finch illustrates the tale of Luthor’s rise to heroism amid the very worst of circumstances — the arrival and ultimate defeat of an evil version of the Justice League. His depiction of each character — Ultraman, Owlman, Superwoman, Johnny Quick, Atomica, Power Ring, Deathstorm, and the Grid — resonates with pure darkness, but never lets you forget they are exactly the same people as their heroic doppelgangers. As one villain points out before his untimely death, this Syndicate is virtually indistinguishable from the Justice League except in the most destructive of behavior, and Finch crafts that warpath on the page magnificently.
Where the art falls off, however, is in the details. Quiet moments between Luthor and Bizarro, or between Johnny and his love Atomica, are gorgeously detailed, but backgrounds suffer as a result. Most of the minor characters in the book get mere outlines or quickly sketched renderings, with less care taken from one panel edge to another. If there’s a central figure, that person is portrayed in all their sad or devious glory. But if you’re a step behind, like the Teen Titans or a large number of villains appearing in early group shots, you’re getting short shrift.
A surprisingly emotional tale that also manages to exhilarate and keep the action high and fast-paced, Forever Evil is a fantastic look at some of the most underrated characters in the DC Universe — these villains who may end up anything but. And look where they are today: Luthor and Captain Cold in Justice League, Black Manta in Suicide Squad, Sinestro and Deathstroke in their own titles. All are posed to be as much major players in the future of the DC Universe as the heroes they purported to fight. And all of them fascinating enough that I’m happy to see it.
The Verdict: 8.5/10