Forever Evil #2 is here to remind us that while Villains Month might have come to a close, the bleakness of a DC Universe devoid of its mainline heroes is still very much the current state of affairs. There is still no Justice League to speak of and that’s leaving places like Gotham and Central City in shambles. Balancing a bevy of plotlines, writer Geoff Johns bounces between locales in this second issue of Forever Evil, giving us an appearance from the Teen Titans, hints at dissention within the ranks of the Crime Syndicate, and of course, the continued efforts of Lex Luthor to put the world back into place. Although there is a feeling that some of these plots will be enriched more through offshoot books than in this mainline Forever Evil miniseries, the focus that Johns puts on Luthor is the continued reason to be picking this title up each month.
Luthor is the unofficial focus of Forever Evil in so far as he is quietly gathering a coalition of other defiant villains to combat the forces of the Crime Syndicate. Make no mistake though, he is still very much the cruel villain he has always been, he just happens to kill less people than his oppressors. His unleashing of Bizarro is a great fist-pumping moment, but the subsequent panel in which Luthor sicks the monster on a lowly LexCorp security officer just cements the fact that Luthor might be taking back the world, but he plans on keeping it for himself once he gets it. Johns also leaves hints of Black Adam and The Rogues fighting back against the Syndicate, and a “partnership” with Luthor and Bizarro cannot be far off.
Seeds are also planted for a potential rift within the Crime Syndicate that could be interesting, though with the Syndicate taking over Justice League this month, it’s likely Johns is starting a thread that will be finished elsewhere. Nevertheless, the soap-opera-like love-triangle between Ultraman, Superwoman, and Owl Man, the destructive nature of Johnny Quick’s bloodlust, and whatever the heck is happening with Power Ring lend a much-appreciated weight to a series all about bad people doing bad things. Johns’ one fumble in balancing the multiple plotlines of this issue is his handling of the Teen Titans. Their moment to shine is abruptly dashed in just a few panels and what happens to them ultimately feels like Forever Evil #2 was just a conduit to get them going on their own storyline in their own monthly series.
Considering the dourness in the overall tone of this book, David Finch’s pencils and Richard Friend’s inks are an astounding addition to Johns’ writing. In just the first few pages, the two render a darkened sublevel of LexCorp that captures the dank depths in which Luthor must travel to unleash his monstrous creation. Bizarro is unveiled in a great degree of smoke and shadow, bestowing him as a fearful presence rather than as the goofball he has been in the past. Although Luthor’s army presently stands at two–one of whom is wearing his costume inside out–there’s a definite sense of threat poised to dethrone the Crime Syndicate and we’re only two issues in.
GNN Comics Grade: NEAR MINT (8/10)