It’s been a few years since the Forever Evil crossover event shook up the DC world, but I’m still catching up with a lot of the New 52 stuff, most recently taking a look at some of the books in this storyline. Unfortunately, I read these books in entirely the wrong order, which probably didn’t help the flow of the story at all! But even so, I think the main meat of this story is actually pretty great, and for the epic feel that it has, I think it should definitely be on your to-read list!
Forever Evil is the culmination of several threads that have been scattered throughout several New 52 storylines since the comics launched. The Trinity War crossover event from the Justice League story ended with a gate being opened between Earth-0 and Earth-3 by Alfred Pennyworth, to bring the Crime Syndicate into Earth-0. The Crime Syndicate is basically an evil version of the Justice League that we’ve been following for 20-odd issues now, led by Ultraman – an evil Superman who actually requires kryptonite in order to retain his strength. Reading this book, for a lot of the earlier issues I was enjoying seeing the comparisons, actually, while the main story was set up.
The book begins with the Justice League out of the picture, having been imprisoned within the Firestorm matrix. Crucially, Cyborg’s computer system rejects his human remains and forms The Grid. The main conceit behind the event, of course, was the fact that the villains become the heroes, and that is shown up on the front cover there, where Lex Luthor is heading up a rag-tag bunch of villains. The Crime Syndicate frees several mass villain groups from across North America, which form the foot soldiers of the Syndicate – the Secret Society. However, Captain Cold’s Rogues rebel from this notion, having their code and all, and Cold pairs up with Luthor, who has built something of a bodyguard from an incomplete clone of Superman, who is named Bizarro.
The wheels soon begin to come off the Crime Syndicate, as Superwoman and Owlman plot to break away from Ultraman’s control. Batman and Catwoman have managed to survive the capture of the Justice League, and bring Cyborg’s human remains back to STAR labs, where Victor’s father once again crafts a metal suit to help save his son. Luthor and Batman eventually team up, alongside Sinestro and Black Adam, and they all go after the Crime Syndicate, who appear to be using the crashed Watchtower as a base of operations.
It turns out that the Syndicate brought a prisoner with them, Alexander Luthor, who in Earth-3 has been killing superbeings and absorbing their powers. Alexander Luthor fights against some of the remaining Syndicate members, as well as the Batman/Luthor coalition, and is only defeated when Luthor himself manages to call down the power of some dark lightning that robs Alexander of his power. Batman is able to release the Justice League from the Firestorm matrix, and they round up the defeated Syndicate – though Owlman manages to elude capture.
The book ends with Superman guessing that Darkseid is chasing the Syndicate across universes, but the final page reveals it is actually the Anti-Monitor that is at the root of all these problems.
It was a really good read, with some very interesting twists and turns along the way. I’ve tried to gloss over several plot points, as there is actually a great deal of story going on here. I think more long-term fans of the comics will appreciate some of the more esoteric nods made along the way, and if you follow multiple books month by month, you’ll no doubt get a lot more out of this book than I was able to, coming at it primarily from a Justice League standpoint. But even so, it’s a pretty epic story that is quite pivotal to the DC universe at this point overall, and as I said at the beginning, it’s definitely worth picking up if you haven’t done so already!
The next book I read was volume five in the Justice League ongoing series, Forever Heroes. I actually read this book before the main Forever Evil book, which didn’t really detract too much from the overall story, though I suppose I should point out that I’ve had some exposure to the storyline anyway through the DC Deck Building Game.
Forever Heroes feels like a succession of smaller stories that tie-in with the main plot of the crossover, starting with revolutionaries in Kahndaq reviving Black Adam, who subsequently has a confrontation with Ultraman that was referenced partway through the opening of the main book. We then move to an Owlman-centric story that shows his bizarre bond with Nightwing, the Earth-0 version having been captured by the Syndicate early in their invasion. We get a little bit of backstory on other members of the Crime Syndicate as well, which is unified through The Grid’s attempts to feel something. Meanwhile, we see Cyborg’s reconstruction, and follow him as he recruits the Metal Men as allies – I think Platinum already featured in the fourth volume (linked earlier) where the Justice League had an open-call for new members. Together with his new allies, Cyborg manages to take down The Grid, which is again referenced in the main event book.
It was a little episodic, and while I don’t think it detracted for me reading Forever Heroes before Forever Evil, in general I think you’re better off reading the main book first. Seeing these side-events afterwards will then allow that story to feel more fleshed-out and stuff, anyway!
There are three more books in the Forever Evil series – ARGUS, Arkham War, and Rogues Rebellion – though I only have the third in that series currently, so haven’t read anything more as yet. Need to wait until payday before I make the move there, I think! I get the impression that these books act much like Forever Heroes, and serve to further flesh-out the main story, which stands up perfectly well as it is, but we comic book nerds always like to have as epic a canvas as possible, right?!
Forever Evil led to the shake-up of the Suicide Squad (and eventual re-launch as New Suicide Squad), Justice League of America (relocated to Canada and re-launched as Justice League United), and the main Justice League, itself, which sees both Luthor and Cold join the ranks. The next main event for the DCU was, I believe, the Superman Doomed storyline, which was set up in volume one of Superman/Wonder Woman – a book that I really enjoyed!
I’m going to continue with my investigations of these various events over the coming months, anyway, so stay tuned for more awesome stuff!!