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.
A stable week for a change and this meant that I was able to read some more comics this time. Didn’t get through quite as many as I wanted to, and I certainly didn’t get around to reviewing as many as I wanted to, but that’s fine really. Gotta take a bit of an occasional lighter load I think. Most of the Marvel books I read this week weren’t all that impressive (as the top picks at the end will show), but DC was better. And Vertigo’s newest series looks to be damn good too, can’t wait to check out the second issue of that next month.
And I did manage to begin my Flash New 52 read-through finally with volume 1 last night, so that’s something there. Planning to read a lot of graphic novels this year, mostly in terms of catching up with series I’ve missed out on, so we shall see how it all pans out.
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 road to the end of Forever Evil: Blight begins here in Justice League Dark #27. It has been five months coming, but we are finally moving towards the finale here. First with Trinity War and then with Forever Evil, this book has become one of my favourites of the New 52. The current series writer J. M. DeMatteis has done excellent in carrying on from where Jeff Lemire left off at the end of Trinity War. Now, I’ve liked everything that he has done with the current crossover and this issue in particular really does its job well.
This is one of DC’s “Dark” novels and in that vein, DeMatteis does an excellent job of showing just what that entails. This is not just any other superhero book, this is a superhero book which combines magic with the weird. We have seen a lot of big stuff happen in this book thus far and the trend continues. Great action all throughout, great magic all throughout, and Mikel Janin doing some of his best work with his fellow inkers and colourist.
Anybody reading my blog knows that my patience with the entire Forever Evil event has been wearing a little thin of late, especially given how the last two installments of the event, Forever Evil #4 and Justice League #26 proved to be less than good, at best. And with all the different tie-in arcs like Arkham War, Rogues Rebellion and ARGUS and Blight things are a little convoluted. But I gotta say that Ray Fawkes and DeMatteis’ writing on Blight is quite good. They’ve put out some great issues of late and DeMatteis’ Justice League Dark #25 was really good.
Released yesterday, DeMatteis and Mikel Janin’s Justice League Dark #26 proves to be another stellar issue. Till now they have built up a really good mystery about Blight’s plans and the fate of the missing members of the team, so its only right that as we hit the mid-point of the entire event-arc, we finally start getting some real answers about the members of Justice League Dark. And Constantine’s new team finally goes up against a member of the Crime Syndicate, with rather unexpected but quite intriguing results.
Another Justice League release in December? Heavens, yes! With the delayed release of #25, #26 was definitely affected and it came out this week along with Forever Evil #4, which too had been delayed. Lots of delays on this event, and I’m starting to think that somewhere along the way DC has dropped the ball, in more ways than one. As my Forever Evil #4 review states, I found it to be a dull and disappointing issue at best. Sadly, that seems to be the case for this issue as well, making it two Geoff Johns issues in a row that I’ve found to be subpar. The one saving grace is that this issue is nowhere near as bad as Forever Evil #4 was.
Issue #25 was a character study on Owlman and it gave a lot of backstory on the character. This is in keeping with the other issues of this event across both Forever Evil and Justice League where we’ve seen the origins of the other characters. Ultraman was the first, then Owlman, and now we have Power Ring, Grid, Deathstorm, and the duo of Johnny Quick and Atomica in this issue. In and of itself, this is a decent enough issue but as part of the Forever Evil event, this is subpar because there is almost no plot progression. We don’t really learn what’s happening right now in the DC universe.
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.