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.
On account of traveling to and from India this past week, my comics reading took a back-seat, as did my novel reading incidentally. Very few comics read, but most of them were good at least, a saving grace.
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.
Not as busy a week as the last but fairly busy nonetheless. The new creative teams on various ongoing titles continue to go strong, particularly Justice League Dark and Witchblade while some of the newer titles like Black Science continue to be exception, so that’s one thing that I really liked about this past week. January in particular has been a really excellent month of comics what with Marvel’s full-on All-New Marvel NOW! launch and some really good issues for DC’s Forever Evil event.
Just one graphic novel again this week, the Lee/Buscema magnificence that is Silver Surfer: Judgement. I was meaning to read at least one more, but time wasn’t on my side and I missed out. Hopefully the new month gets off to a good start.
The only Catwoman issue I’ve read, in the New 52 or otherwise, is the recent Catwoman #25 which was a Zero Year tie-in and was written by one of my favourite writers, John Layman, and drawn by Aaron Lopresti and Art Thibert. It was a really fun issue that I picked only because it was a tie-in and because John and Aaron were behind it. I’ve heard far too many negative things about the current Ann Nocenti run to really be interested in picking up the series for long-term. But, that’s kind of where the Gothtopia crossover story stepped in.
John introduced Gothtopia in his short story for Detective Comics #27 and just a couple weeks ago we had Gail Simone doing a Gothropia issue for Batgirl, which I really liked. Both stories were excellent, so I managed to drum up some drive to pick up this issue. And I kind of wish that I hadn’t. Because this was mostly a very tiresome read with some odd artwork here and there. Not at all what I expected, even with the low expectations that I had of it. I’ve tried Ann Nocenti’s Katana in the past as well but that title didn’t work for me either. So I suppose, Ann Nocenti’s work really isn’t for me. Maybe I should try something else that she’s done that’s received some acclaim.
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.
By now this month, its absolutely not a secret what’s going on in Gotham. In last month’s Batman #24, the Riddler turned off the city’s main power supply and with a mother-of-all-storms coming to the city, people are in desperate need of the most basic things. Like batteries, batteries are worth more than expensive mountain climbing gear right now in fact! And that’s where this (one of) latest tie-ins to Scott Snyder’s Zero Year comes in. This is almost an origin story for Selina Kyle, Gotham’s master thief, and it is pretty damn good.
I’ve never read a Catwoman issue before, whether in the New 52 or before that, so this was very much my first solo introduction to the character. She’s popped in a few times in other books, like Geoff Johns’ Justice League of America in which she was a part of the team that ARGUS Director Amanda Waller put together, but other than that I know her only through the movies (Anne Hathaway’s portrayal rocked) and whatever animated stuff I’ve come across. As a first issue, this was a great issue and if the rest of the series is this good, both in terms of the art and the story, then I’d love to read more.
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.
Forever Evil is the BIG event of the year for DC Comics, surpassing even Trinity War. Where last month was all focused on the supervillains of DC Universe, this month we go back to things being a bit more regular. But even though all the regular series are back in action this month, that doesn’t mean that Forever Evil isn’t going ahead. It very much is.
The first issue was just about decent. It had some great moments with Lex Luthor, and it gave a pretty decent overview of all the changes going on in the superpowered community, whether for the good guys or the bad guys. But, the art was definitely not up to mark, and David Finch left me disappointed throughout. Sadly, that trend seems to have continued with this issue.