Forever Evil

Hey everybody!
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

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!

Justice League: Forever Heroes

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!!

It’s Saturday!

Hey everybody!
I woke up in such a good mood this morning, and so far, the day has not let me down. It’s been rather wonderful, even if I say so myself, so let me share some of this awesome with you fine internet folk!

I went up to Chester this morning, which in itself is nothing really new as I tend to go there most Saturdays – it’s where my nearest Games Workshop store is, after all. I picked up some Ironjawz, after eyeing them up for a long while, so I’m hoping they can lift me out of the painting lapse I’ve been in for a while now.

This week is all about the Flesh-Eater Courts, the new zombies basically being repackaged. However, while there aren’t any new models coming, there is a new Battletome to accompany the release, something I found quite interesting. We’ve seen this with Seraphon/Lizardmen, of course, but still. There is something irresistibly creepy about the lore of these guys, and I find myself marveling at the way Games Workshop manages to seduce me so well – I was actually considering a pre-order!

Age of Sigmar Flesh Eater Courts

In case you missed it, there’s something afoot in the Mortal Realms, as it appears the rumours of an Age of Sigmar-themed boxed game appear to be true. Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower has had its teaser trailer up this morning, and it looks filled with Tzeentchy horror and some interesting barbarian-like folk – I’m particularly intrigued by that chap up in the top left corner wielding a warhammer, looks like a warrior priest to me…

While in Chester, I also picked up some books, including the new Bloodlines novel that purports to fill in many of the gaps in the lead-up to The Force Awakens, and another Justice League book, The Grid.

I haven’t mentioned some of the recent comics I’ve been reading, so I think I’ll do a bit of a catch-up here, anyway. Starting with The Grid, this appears to be one of the stories that leads into the Trinity War crossover event, and starts by swelling the ranks of the Justice League with all manner of extras, as seen during the previous arc, Throne of Atlantis. We have Firestorm, Atom, and Element Woman, among others, and if I’m honest, I feel a bit like we’re diluting the awesome team dynamic that hooked me into the Justice League in the first place.

The first part of the book, anyway, deals with the attack on the League by the villain Despero. He is given a Kryptonite ring and attacks the Watchtower, causing it to plummet to the earth and, when Superman flies up to prevent a catastrophic hit into the east coast, he is beaten back by the ring. It’s only by the intervention of Martian Manhunter that Despero is driven back, though he flees before any of the main Justice League show up on the scene, leaving everyone thinking Atom defeated him.

It was a cool story, though there are a lot of pages where nothing really happens – at least, nothing that feels like it interests me somehow. Which was a shame, if I’m honest.

The second part of the book is the Trinity War crossover, something I got really confused by when I tried to read the issues in Justice League of America. The Trinity War crossover arc deals with all three Justice Leagues – that of Superman et al, the JLA that includes Martian Manhunter, Hawkman et al, and Justice League Dark, which features Constantine and Deadman, among others.

JLA started off pretty interestingly, I thought. Amanda Waller and Steve Trevor set up a second Justice League, with the idea that it would stop any possible threat from the main Justice League of Superman etc. They investigate the Secret Society of Super Villains in what was a fairly confusing storyline, for me, though it was cool to see a new group of superheroes interact into a cohesive whole, something I really enjoyed about the first Justice League book. It was also great to read a story with Martian Manhunter, a character who had intrigued me since playing the DC deck-building game.

I’m not really a fan of Constantine, which has been putting me off buying the Trinity War storyline, but given that it seems to be a big part of this world, and I believe it leads into the Forever Evil stuff, I think I may have to invest at some point…

Almost completely off-topic now, I’ve also been reading the first Green Lantern book, Sinestro. I’ve never honestly been all that interested by this guy but, as happened with Aquaman, I was intrigued following the first Justice League book. I actually bought this one months ago and, after the success of Aquaman, I’d feared I might become enamoured of another superhero and throw loads of money at the various Lantern books. Well, it’s with something of a heavy heart that I say, I wasn’t as keen on this solo series as I was with Aquaman. Don’t get me wrong, it was nice to see where this Hal Jordan came from and whatnot, but given the fact that he doesn’t actually have his powers during this book, and is essentially a pawn of Sinestro’s attempt to rescue the natives of his homeworld, I felt it was a bit odd, and I couldn’t really see where this fit with the Green Lantern of the Justice League book.

I’m prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt, however, and have ordered the second volume, which is on its way to me as I type, so my opinions may change soon, but yeah, I was feeling a bit meh about this. Plus, the art changed for the final story in this volume, which I really didn’t like!

At any rate, I’m sure I’ll be getting round to more of the comics on my shelf soon. Having read so much good stuff about it, I’m decided to move onto Star Wars: Bloodlines next, so I’ll be back soon with my thoughts on that!

Hope you’re all having as excellent a Saturday as me!

The Throne of Atlantis

Hey everybody,
I read an awesome comic book crossover yesterday, and have been pretty much buzzing about it since. Back in 2012, the Justice League and Aquaman titles from DC’s fresh New 52 series crossed over in an epic five-part awesome storyline that featured Aquaman facing off against his bother Orm (Ocean Master) as the East Coast of the USA was almost submerged.

It was pretty incredible, let’s just say that from the off. both the Justice League and Aquaman books were written by Geoff Johns at this time, so I guess a crossover was pretty easy to facilitate. Both pick up directly from where they left off, with some hints being dropped in Aquaman especially around the Trench in the previous arc, The Others. In fact, having read the second volume of Aquaman beforehand really helps here, as we see the evolution of the character into a team player, while also showing us Black Manta on the lookout for relics of Atlantis that will become important. His story in The Others echoes the opening of Justice League volume three, where Wonder Woman almost begrudgingly accepts the help of the League in hunting down the Cheetah.

Anyhow!

The story begins with the US Navy on exercises in the mid-Atlantic, and a missile test goes awry, targeting the submerged city of Atlantis. This causes Orm to bring his Atlantean warriors to the East Coast in retaliation – Aquaman guesses his brother is using the first King of Atlantis’ sceptre to cause one of the cities on the coast to sink beneath the waves. Metropolis and Gotham both see heavy casualties in the storms, but Boston is Orm’s true target.

Aquaman and Orm face off, Aquaman trying to show dominance over his brother in order to force the warriors to heed his commands. When Batman tries to intervene, Orm captures most of the League, leaving only Cyborg in the Watchtower to help. Cyborg goes to STAR labs to ask his father to perform an enhancement that will make him able to operate under water, at the cost of a little more of his humanity. Once he’s ready, he activates the JL reserve list of superheroes, including Hawkman and Green Arrow, to defend Boston against the Atlantean forces. Cyborg then travels to the deep waters to rescue his companions, whereupon they discover the Trench has opened, and the demon fish-people from the first Aquaman arc have returned to terrorise the coast as well!

Turns out that Orm was manipulated by a former Atlantis royal adviser called Vulko, who had hoped to engineer to the conflict to restore Aquaman to the throne of Atlantis. Aquaman goes ballistic, imprisons Orm and beats the crap out of Vulko, but ultimately decides he needs to take his place as the King of Atlantis to prevent any further conflict.

The story is just awesome in its scope and execution, and is very definitely worthwhile taking the time to read! The danger for big team stories like these is that some people will inevitably fall short in the course, and while this is certainly an Aquaman story as much as it is a Justice League story, the other members of the League have a lot to do here as well. Chief among them, Cyborg – I’ve always been vaguely interested in this guy, but he’s becoming a really cool character in this series, and it’s really interesting to see his story develop. We also continue the burgeoning romance between Superman and Wonder Woman that began in volume two. In the midst of all this, we still have time to see Black Manta offered a place on the Suicide Squad, and the book ends with Steve Trevor and Green Arrow discussing another of the Darkseid “mother boxes”.

In a storyline as packed to the gills (ha!) as this one, some things are bound to be left out. Green Lantern had already left the team as a pariah in the last book, so it’s no real surprise he’s not here, but we also don’t see Flash, as he’s explained to be dealing with a “primal problem” of his own – presumably, the Grodd storyline from the third volume of his series. Shame, that, as he’s my favourite DC hero, but some things have got to give.

We’re left with Aquaman leaving the surface world, and the final pages are a bit heart-rending as we see him part ways with Mera, but more problematic (for me) is the enlarged team. Another thing I often dislike in big team stories like these is how the make-up will often change; I loved the first volume of Justice League because of the characters it used – since that book, we’ve now lost two of the principal seven players! I’m intrigued as to where we’ll see this go next, of course, but I’m also a little wary of having the team I came to love mixed up too much.

Anyway – Throne of Atlantis was an amazing read, and I think I may delve into the world of DC’s animated movies to see how the storyline fares there shortly! I can highly recommend this book – however, as an aside, both the Aquaman and Justice League collections have the same issues, so you don’t really need to get both books to get the story. I’d recommend getting the Aquaman collection if you had to only get one, because of the additional storyline from his book, but you won’t be totally lost if you pick up just the Justice League book instead!

Comics Catch-Up!

I’ve been catching up on some more DC comics lately, and it’s been wonderful! Let me wax lyrical about these books for a bit!

After reading the first Justice League volume (and loving it!) I’ve been checking out the next one, The Villain’s Journey. Following on from their origin story last time, we see the team fractured by the villain Graves, who briefly appeared in the earlier book as something of a fan of the League. It turns out Graves was poisoned during Darkseid’s attack, and his family perished as a result. Blaming the superheroes, he has collected information on each one’s weakness from their arch-nemeses. He manages to fracture the team, culminating in a massive fight between Wonder Woman and Green Lantern, which is broadcast around the world, destroying the reputation of the team. They manage to defeat him, though with some pretty fractured results.

While this book wasn’t as good as the Origin story, it was still nice to see how the storyline develops from the last book. However, being totally honest, I didn’t find it quite as good as the first story. It felt somewhat fractured, and while it was interesting to see more of the dynamics between the group and all that, parts of this felt like the obligatory “rift” style of storyline – the classic sequel that sets up the third act. It feels a little generic in this sense, but at the end of the day, it’s a pretty decent enough comic book story.

Having enjoyed the first Justice League story so much, I bought a couple of other books featuring those heroes, to see what I’d been missing in the solo series, one of which was the first volume of Aquaman. Also by Geoff Johns, it serves as something of an origin story for both Aquaman and Mera, as we see them battle a piranha-like race called The Trench, who live deep in the ocean floor. Along the way, we see both Aquaman and Mera interact with the people of Amnesty Bay, in often pretty hilarious vignettes that show how “real world people” sometimes deride Aquaman.

This story is absolutely amazing. I’d never read an Aquaman story before, so didn’t really know what to expect, but was totally blown away. This book is just awesome! So entertaining – the scenes with folks asking for his help that demonstrate common misconceptions of the character are both humorous but also serve to really affirm Aquaman’s place as a superhero in the DC universe. I think not knowing anything about the character helped, because I came to this fresh and felt like I really learned something about him, but anyway, it was a really interesting story, and I’ve already bought the next two volumes in the series, as I can’t wait to see what happens next!

While I’ve found a new interest in Aquaman, I’ll always return to Flash as my favourite superhero. Following the last book, where we saw Flash confront Grodd in Gorilla City, this storyline sees Central City invaded by the gorillas, and Flash must team up with the Rogues in order to defeat them! There are some pretty neat twists and turns in this story, which ultimately sees Grodd removed to the Speed Force as Iris West and the others burst out in a Soviet tank.

Following on from the main event, there is a smaller story in here also, where those others who came out of the Speed Force with Iris have developed super powers. We get a brief look at Reverse-Flash, but the main story follows Flash as he tries to clear the Trickster’s name of a crime he didn’t commit – an interesting side story type of thing, but one that further helps to explore Flash as a character.

I liked this a lot more than the second book, which felt a bit odd, and had some strange one-shot stories tucked in the back of it. While King Grodd has ostensibly been defeated, it was nice to see the brief glimpse of Reverse-Flash that will hopefully promise a lot of awesome to come soon, anyway!

All in all, then, I’m really loving this discovery of the New 52 comics from DC, and I’m a little annoyed with myself for not having looked into this stuff sooner, to tell the truth. There have been some stand-out awesome stories from my delvings thus far, and even those stories I didn’t think as highly of are still good enough for entertainment!

Can’t wait to get round to some more real soon!

Justice League!

Oh my goodness you guys, I read this bad boy earlier in the week, and it was just awesome! I’ve been reading a variety of these New 52 titles recently, and had bought this one in an effort to become more schooled in the DC Universe. I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic, but I was going to see what it was all about.

I am so glad that I did!

The story, like all the New 52 books, is a soft reboot of the DC Universe, and as the title suggests, it’s an origin story of the team, so we see how they first teamed up. Knowing nothing about the Justice League (though I have watched at least one animated movie in the past, not taking a lot of it in!) I was all for an easy-entry storyline.

So we follow Batman investigating some weird flying guy who plants a strange metal box in Gotham. Green Lantern shows up, investigating the alien activity going on, and the story really builds from there. The two travel to Metropolis as Green Lantern suspects it might have something to do with “that alien”, Superman, and later calls in Flash to help investigate the box. It’s interesting to see the group dynamic at this point – Flash and Green Lantern obviously know each other, Superman is suspicious of everyone, and Batman is almost the butt of everyone’s jokes (“so, what can you do?”) The story shifts to follow the “birth” of Cyborg, linked to his father’s investigations of these alien boxes, before moving on again to Wonder Woman as she rushes off to a fight with the flying aliens in Washington DC. In the capital, the others turn up and are soon joined by Aquaman, who has been fighting the aliens underwater. It soon turns out the boxes are essentially extra-dimensional portals, which are used to allow Darkseid to arrive on earth in search of his daughter. The aliens capture Superman in what feels almost like a side-story – they intend to make alien supersoldiers from his genetic material? – but Batman shows up to rescue him. In a final move, the super heroes all work together to defeat Darkseid, earning the support of the people at last.

The story is really good, but the characters are done so damn well that I was in love with this book pretty much from the get-go! I particularly loved Green Lantern, a character in whom I previously had no interest – he was generally pretty funny, which I was surprised at as I usually dislike the smart-mouth types. In fact, I’ve since bought the first books in both the Green Lantern and Aquaman series to see what I’ve been missing out on! Superman was also a really cool character here, and I’m really interested in this whole thing with Darkseid, who I believe has some sort of history with the Kryptonian, so that’s interesting.

The whole story was just so great, I am really impressed with all of these books so far, and can highly recommend this one in particular to anyone who is a fan of superheroes!