Friday, 23 May 2014

Big Nothing: A Review of DC's Forever Evil (Geoff Johns, David Finch)


If I were to match the intelligence level of Forever Evil in this review, I wouldn’t even be typing this; I’d be posting a picture my minder snapped of a frowny face I smeared with my poop on the fridge while I grinned with a giant booger dangling off my nose under my spinning propeller cap. But I’m going to do something Geoff Johns didn’t do and put some effort into writing somewhat coherently about DC’s latest, oh, let’s charitably say angry fart of a comic event: Forever Evil. 

Before I start, let’s clear the room first of some people who aren’t going to like or appreciate what I have to say. So: if you haven’t read, or are planning to read, Trinity War, and you don’t know anything about Forever Evil, and you don’t want spoilers - stop reading this review. Forever Evil’s premise is Trinity War’s finale. I wouldn’t recommend Trinity War either - if Forever Evil is an angry fart, Trinity War is the bowel movement that preceded it. 

Also don’t read this if you haven’t read Forever Evil and are planning on doing so - I will talk spoilers. And finally all DC fanboys and fangirls who don’t like hearing their favourite limb-tearing comics publisher being smack-talked, you can safely walk away still believing the New 52 is the greatest accomplishment in comics - you won’t agree with what I say anyway, I have some very unflattering things to say, all of which are true, so here I am saving you some time so you can go read the latest issue of Savage Hawkman (unless it’s been cancelled, which is a high probability - seriously, have they cancelled more titles than they’re publishing in the New 52 at this point?). 

Or, if you’re just one of those people who’re just looking for a recommendation one way or the other, here it is: no, I would not recommend Forever Evil. It is a terrible comic. Maybe you got that from the first sentence but if you didn’t I’m saying it explicitly just for you. 

Ok, so I’m assuming if you’re still with me at this point, I’m safe to say…. 

… I WAS KIDDING, I LOVE FOREVER EVIL!!! GEOFF JOHNS IS THE GREATEST WRITER EVER! DC, YOU ARE AMAZING AND KNOW EXACTLY WHAT READERS WANT!!!

Heh - can you imagine after all those disclaimers? No, fuck this book really. This is the last DC Event book I ever read, they’re too unrewarding.

The Crime Syndicate, who’re the evil opposites of the Justice League from Earth 3 and put the Trinity in Trinity War, have somehow killed the Justice League and taken over the world because that’s what villains do in them stories what tells you about heroes and them folks the heroes fight. It’s up to Lex Luthor - oh, the irony! - to gather a handful of villains together to defeat the Crime Syndicate.

Let’s start with the Crime Syndicate and what a weird group they are. Who are they? Well, keep in mind they’re opposite so: Ultraman is the evil Superman who gets his strength from snorting kryptonite like cocaine - which he does on more than one occasion in this book! - and is weakened by the sun. Power Ring is the cowardly Green Lantern whose ring poisons and controls the wearer; Superwoman is evil Lois Lane with a barbed wire lasso; Owlman is Thomas Wayne; evil Alfred is Joker; Grid is the robotic half of cyborg, made whole; Johnny Quick is the evil Flash; Atomica is the evil Atom; and finally Deathstorm is the evil Firestorm.

Why are they here? Because they’re running from something more evil and powerful than they are. Do we find out what that is by the end of the book? We do. Do we see that evil power defeated? We don’t. So, much like Trinity War, Forever Evil doesn’t really have an ending and is a lengthy tease for the next big DC event. Cynical? Annoying? Yup to both.

But it is a complete story if you take it to be about Lex Luthor’s arc of realising he can be a hero. It’s that banal. Because, while there are lots of nit-picking, irritating things I found with this comic, the real problem with it is how boring this book is. Honestly, I’d read an issue and then, not even a month later but an hour later, struggle to recall what I’d read - they’re that forgettable. And then I realised: oh yeah, NOTHING HAPPENED! One issue is Lex and Batman fighting over who’s gonna be the leader of their little group - seriously.

Lex goes from being the evil corporate businessman at the start to saving Superman and the Earth at the end and realising there’s something to be said about being good (by the way, no mention of how he got out of prison - when last we saw him in Action Comics, he was locked up). Along the way he meets other disenfranchised villains, they team up, and they fight the Crime Syndicate - nothing else really happens. But I can see why it needed to be this straightforward because DC spun about 20 different titles out of this event to soak up as much sales as they could and, though I didn’t read any of them, I’m certain none of them were worthwhile.

So let’s get to the bizarre focus of this series: Nightwing. Because for some reason… Nightwing was important to the Crime Syndicate in a way that’s never explained. He’s kidnapped by Superwoman in #1, he’s unmasked as - shock! Dick Grayson! and then tied up to the Murder Machine, a device from Apokolips, where he waits to die while Batman struggles in vain to save him.

But whyyyyyyyyyy?! Why was Nightwing so important to the Crime Syndicate. Simply put, he wasn’t. They got nothing out of capturing him and tying him up - nothing! And yet they used the Murder Machine, an almost impenetrable holding device, to keep the unpowered Grayson in check while elsewhere, they had Earth 3 Shazam tied with rope to a chair with a piece of tape over his mouth in a broom closet - and they were way more scared of him than Nightwing. Really their positions should’ve been reversed but, out of the two, Nightwing is more popular with readers so I guess that’s why?

I mentioned earlier the nitpicky details of this book, so here they are, rapid-fire style: if there’s no power, how are they able to broadcast “This World Is Ours” on literally every screen in the world? Ultraman doesn’t seem to realise the moon orbits the Earth and yet moves the moon in front of the sun anyway thinking it’ll stay put. Why are the villains’ orders to level entire cities - to what end? Just seems like brainless, generic evil-doer stuff - if this “world is yours”, then you want it to be in good condition, right? Who wants to rule a smouldering heap? How has Cyborg survived being separated from the machine parts of his body? For that matter, how does he manage to survive being dragged along the floor by Batman without picking up some serious infections, given that his entire body is one giant gaping wound? In #3, David Finch can’t decide what level of disintegration Batman’s mask is so in one panel it looks barely scratched, in another it’s partially removed, in another a large piece is missing, and in the final iteration, half his cowl is missing! Awful artistry, David Finch, no consistency whatsoever. Plus, you can clearly see Batman’s identity - and yet NO-ONE clocks that it’s Bruce Wayne! Y’know the playboy billionaire who’s seemingly always on the front page of every newspaper in the DCU? Is everyone blind and stupid?! Also, he takes time to go to the Batcave with Catwoman to get the contingencies he created if he ever needed to battle the Justice League, even though he knows the Crime Syndicate are opposites and so none of those contingencies would work on them! So what was the point, Bruce? Why is Luthor continuously monologuing about his sister?! If Earth 3 Shazam is so feared and dangerous, why keep him alive - what purpose does he serve in being the Crime Syndicate’s prisoner? How does Wonder Woman’s lasso wrapped around Firestorm release all of the trapped heroes? Why does Owlman want so desperately to be besties with Dick Grayson? How is Superman not dead after having a piece of kryptonite lodged in his brain for so long?

Ahhh, that feels better!

I’ll give it a couple positives because I can be objective sometimes: the way the Justice League are defeated by the Crime Syndicate was interesting - it wasn’t just a straight fight but something tactical - and the way Lex defeats Earth 3 Shazam was also clever. Two things - the only two things I can commend Forever Evil on, and that’s it.

There isn’t much more to say about Forever Evil. It is another piss-awful event book. It is riddled with holes and tells a totally worthless and unengaging story in a dreary way. It will leave you wondering why you bothered in the first place and, if you’re like me, decide to give up on DC event comics for good. Moreover you might even end up questioning whether you even want to keep reading DC Comics if this is the kind of bilge they keep pumping out in high volumes each month.

One final thing (he says in his Columbo voice): if Trinity War was billed as the event the New 52 had been building to since the start (and was totally underwhelming), what was Forever Evil? The event nothing was building toward and, by the end, achieved nothing.

Forever Evil = nothing.


Forever Evil (The New 52)

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