I have put up with DC’s Forever Evil event for going on six months now, since last September. It started off fairly well I think, all things considering, but has kind of been wallowing along for a while now. With the penultimate issue in stores this week, I believe things are finally looking up, even though the new issue is still plagued by many missteps, and the story really is all over the place sadly. But I must admit that I get a weird kick out of reading this title, even though I haven’t been enjoying it all that much. On a very basic level, this is quite an interesting series.
In the previous issues, we’ve seen some big reversals for the Crime Syndicate, even though they still hold innumerable advantages over the heroes of the world and are almost unassailable. But, with Luthor’s Injustice League on the prowl now, things are changing a little bit, bit by bit. Because in the absence of the heroes of the world, whether they are dead or unreachable, it is up to the villains to save the world, quite literally, and any heroes alive who are still willing to make a stand are in very, very short supply. And the art hasn’t improved at all, which is still very disappointing.
For the Crime Syndicate of America, the end has finally begun. For four issues now, they’ve continued to establish their dominance over the Earth. Whether we talk about the big time heroes like those of the three Justice Leagues, or the lesser heroes like the Doom Patrol and the Teen Titans, they’ve taken out almost everyone, and have shown themselves to be supreme. But nothing lasts forever. And this new issue is a perfect example of that. The story has taken a long time to get to this point, but it is finally here, and I’m honestly very relieved that things are actually moving forward now.
The new issue is a contest of arms. In the last issue we saw that Lex Luthor led his band of supervillains to Wayne Enterprises in Gotham to procure some tech, but ran into Batman and Catwoman there. In the midst of it all, Power Ring arrived with a band of Earth 1’s villains like Deathstroke and Giganta to take them all out. This is the issue that packs a ton of action into the story and moves the story forward in the context of the big enemy that the Crime Syndicate ran away from, from their own Earth.
The sluggishness and boredom, I am feeling it. When you stretch out an event across two books for several months, you need to make sure that the pacing of the entire story is spot on. It is essential. Sure, event stories make for much better reads in collected formats, but readers do have to get over the hurdle of the monthly schedules. And when books are delayed, then that hurdle gets ever bigger. This is what Geoff Johns’ latest event, with artists David Finch and Ivan Reis, is suffering from now. Last month’s Justice League #25 was inexplicably delayed. That then led to a delay in the release of Forever Evil #4 which came out this week along with Justice League #26. Whatever the delay might have meant to achieve, Forever Evil #4 proved to be a disappointment.
The main issue with the Forever Evil event is that it appears to be moving far too slowly. Each issue contains a tiny bit of plot progression and a tiny bit of character progression. The stories are generally written quite well, but taken together, there is a clear problem there. And it doesn’t help that each month David Finch’s artwork proves to be a big disappointment. I ask myself if Forever Evil #4 was worth the three week delay. The answer would be a no.
Event comics are often maligned because of their meta-perspective, giving us the overlay of events happening across an entire line. Some can be really good, such as how the recently concluded X-Men: Battle of the Atom was in its first month, or how Throne of Atlantis and Trinity War were. But some can be… bad, such as Infinity because the event comics don’t really give you a consistent story to follow. Or characters for that matter. Geoff Johns has had more experience with event comics than most writers today given all the work he did for Green Lantern in its pre-New 52 days, and so he’s often a dependable guy for such comics.
Sadly, he seems to be missing the mark again and again with Forever Evil, the main 7-issue event mini-series specifically. In two issues thus far he’s given a lot of different perspectives to advance the main storyline, setting up the various tie-in comics for the event, or even drawing on them to further the main storyline. Its a “feeding off each other” effect that isn’t really working for me. And the art is mediocre at best.
If there’s been one high-profile DC comic coming out this month other than Forever Evil #2, then that’s this one, Justice League #24. Geoff Johns has emerged as the premier storyteller of New 52, right alongside Gail Simone and Scott Snyder, and he’s been doing a fairly good job in the two years and one month of DC’s universe-wide relaunch. First Throne of Atlantis, then Trinity War, and now Forever Evil, he’s been writing some really good comics and this new issue marks the high point of the month for me.
I’ll be honest, I think Forever Evil has been a bit stumbling around with its first two issues thus far, but I have confidence in Geoff to pull things off because he really understands his characters and his vision for his story is always spectacular. After the end of Trinity War in August with Justice League #23, I was impatient to get to the next issue and while some of the related Villain’s Month issues gave me that fix, Justice League #24 is where all the pay-off is at.