Judging by its cover, you’d think Forever Evil #4 is all about Lux Luthor and Batman getting into some sort of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots-esque fight for the fate of the world or something, but the actual contents of the issue couldn’t be further from that misleading image. This issue is focused almost entirely on both Batman and Luthor but the two do not even occupy the same space as one another until the end, and even then not a single punch is thrown. What it boils down to is the cover of Forever Evil #4 is quite terrible while what’s inside the book is keeping with the top-shelf offerings of the previous issues. Even as Forever Evil moves beyond its midpoint, writer Geoff Johns is showing no signs of slowing down, and if the last splash page is an indication, the tides of war are about to change.
One thing Forever Evil has been able to nail down is its pacing. Each issue, and this one especially, is a marriage of several different sequences and events, each one carrying with it its own forward momentum feeding into the grand narrative that Johns is telling. There’s rarely a lull in action as characters are sometimes already in the middle of hatching their plan, which eliminates the need for expository dialogue. Rather than deciding what to do, Luthor and his new cohorts are already on the move, beginning this issue in a hospital to help repower Black Adam and construct a weapon, and moving right along to Wayne Enterprises for the finale. It’s as if the story is still operating in-between issues and each month is capturing the significant actions and forgoing all the filler.
Although that’s not to say that Forever Evil #4 is all action; in fact, barring a small fight between Metallo and Ultraman and the rumble toward the end, this is the least action-oriented of all the issues so far. Batman and Catwoman share an important discussion at the start of the issue that changes their relationship for the better and introduces a plan to stop the Crime Syndicate that is directly tied to Batman’s paranoia preparedness toward the other members of the Justice League. Even something as seemingly simple as Ultraman’s showdown with Metallo holds a significant weight for this event, though arguably not as much as characters like Luthor and Batman, since his status as Ultra-Baby Daddy to Superwoman’s unborn child is the stuff daytime talk shows are made of.
David Finch’s art has been the least consistent part of Forever Evil with some pages rendered exceptionally while others suffered with rushed-looking panels. In Forever Evil #4, Finch has some truly wonderful sequences with Luthor and Bizarro in the sewers below Wayne Industries and the continued degradation of Power Ring, but then there are one or two disparate pages—like the fight between Ultraman and Metallo—where the characters look downright wonky. Considering the month delay this book had, I expected much more haphazard art (or at least the work of a second artist) so the fact that Finch could temper those expectations is commendable. Even with its art inconsistencies, Forever Evil remains the top event going in comics right now.
GNN Comics Grade: NEAR MINT (8/10)