Buckle-up, Nightwing fans! This is your time and I have a feeling things are about to get hostile around here.

Forever Evil #1 has finally arrived and in a single issue it has rocked the DC universe in a pretty big way, especially for us Batman fans. All of the villains are free, the Justice League is gone (no, it isn’t explained at all so we’re still in the dark after reading chapter six of Trinity War), and Nightwing, well, everyone is going to be talking about Nightwing. But don’t worry, when I do address that it will be in spoiler tags.

Geoff Johns and David Finch’s Forever Evil begins with Lex Luthor, who apparently has a clean slate and is back on top of the business world yet again. Just as he is about to close a very shady deal aboard a private helicopter the city of Metropolis goes dark and the chopper falls into a tailspin. Why’s that? Who’s responsible? Well, I highly recommend you read Justice League #23, the sixth and final chapter of Trinity War before reading this issue because there is no re-cap. Of course, if you would just like me to tell you why the world is plunging into chaos I can do that as well! At the end of Trinity War all of the three Justice Leagues witnessed the opening of a portal to the alternate dimension of Earth 3. This gateway granted passage of an evil Justice League called “The Crime Syndicate” into our world and with that the issue ended. Now, in Forever Evil #1, the Crime Syndicate are using their own evil Cyborg named Grid to bring down major cities and free super villains worldwide and that’s pretty much the entirety of the issue. You’ll see an unprecedented amount of cameos by DC’s rogues as they are recruited from all the major super max prisons and it’s quite a bit of fun to see so many colorful characters interact but the recruitment is indeed the bulk of the issue. The subplot cutting throughout the rise of the Crime Syndicate empire, however, is what will be the biggest topic of discussion. This part of the story involves Nightwing, who has returned from Chicago and just so happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and I will leave it at that.

It’s a very action-packed issue with some really great villainous moments and the Nightwing stuff is going to make this a very hot topic whether you like it or not.

Here are my 2 non-spoiler complaints about the issue’s story:

Nightwing’s reason for being back in Gotham is very weak. Very weak. I’m surprised that with all the intricacies of Trinity War and Forever Evil that Geoff Johns couldn’t come up with a better excuse. You see, Nightwing is swinging back into Gotham and he’s toting Zsasz along for the ride. It turns out that Zsasz has been causing some trouble in Chicago (I don’t know why he’d go there, but okay) and Nightwing caught the psychopath and is here to bring him back to Arkham. But really, couldn’t Nightwing have trusted the authorities to do that? And are we to believe that Nightwing swung the entire way from Chicago to Gotham holding onto a bound Victor Zsasz? It’s got to be easier to just drive to Arkham at some point.

And then there’s Lex Luthor. I’m surprised that the Crime Syndicate totally ignores Luthor yet invites guys like the Penguin (and Emperor Penguin) to join their organization. Now, I’m sure Luthor wouldn’t go along with the Crime Syndicate for long, but still you’d think that they would want to persuade or attempt to kill someone as dangerous as Lex. Or should we assume that the New 52 version of Earth 3 had no Lex Luthor and so they wouldn’t think to check on our Prime Luthor?

The imagery provided by David Finch, Richard Friend, and Sonia Oback is appropriately dark and full of despair. Some character faces look a little too similar and like they’ve had plastic surgery that leaves the skin a tad too tight, but besides that I found the artwork to be a really nice fit for this story. If there are two things Finch does exceedingly well it’s action and villains and that’s what Forever Evil is all about. While this didn’t get the cool 3D cover that other titles received, you will be treated to a cool two-page fold-out that showcases a lot of villains you’ll have fun trying to identify.

Now here are the spoilers where I talk about Nightwing so click only if you’ve already read the book:

Spoiler

After finally having some fun in his own title in recent months, Dick Grayson is back to being the New 52 punching bag. Are you ready for this? Nightwing has been unmasked! He was captured by the Crime Syndicate and within a very short period of time they somehow figured out his identity. Is this because of Superwoman’s lasso? Shouldn’t it have the opposite effect of Wonder Woman’s lasso? Are we to believe that Nightwing submitted and gave up his identity just to save himself from further torture? Did they just find his wallet in his costume (it’s shown on TV screens around the world)?

The first thing we need to remind ourselves is that there are 6 more chapters to this story to go so we shouldn’t get too upset just yet, but as of right now I’m not happy about this development. On one hand I’m relieved that Dick wasn’t killed. I hate it when comic book characters are killed off because then it’s just a waiting game for a really pathetic resurrection story. It’s more captivating to just ruin their livelihood than their life! So in a way I can see some interesting stories spinning out of an outed Nightwing in the future. However, I would’ve liked such an important moment for this character to have come about more organically rather than the weird “I’m packing a guy in from Chicago.” excuse. This was just bad luck. It’s not like the Crime Syndicate actually saw our hero as being at all important. He was just convenient. Of course, my opinion on this could change if we see a victimized Dick Grayson rise up in this arc and become a real force to be reckoned with by the end. They ****ed with the wrong former boy side-kick! People will make comparisons to Peter Parker’s identity being revealed in Civil War, but at least Spider-Man got to give up his name willingly.

Another point to make: It’s also a development that makes it even harder to swallow exactly how nobody sees that Bruce is Batman, but then again if people still can’t tell that Clark Kent is Superman then I imagine Bruce could walk around in full uniform without the cowl on and people still won’t put two and two together. “Dick Grayson is Nightwing? That must mean Bruce knew all along! Aw, I bet he knows who Batman is too!”

The argument could be made that not much was being done with Nightwing’s true identity anyway and Marvel has numerous heroes who work just fine having their identities be puclic knowledge. It’s not like Dick Grayson even had a job or friends who aren’t also superheroes, right? Well, that was changing. If you read Nightwing then you’ll see that writer Kyle Higgins was definitely expanding on Grayson’s civilian identity in recent months by giving him roommates and an all new setting and the Forever Evil reveal sends a wrecking ball through all of that world-building (although we won’t see any repercussions until March or so in any of the DC titles).

I need to wait for my thoughts to settle more on this subject. There’s a lot to consider, but we also need to not get ahead of ourselves. Six more issues.

Recommended If…

  • You’re a Nightwing fan
  • You enjoyed Trinity War
  • You love DC’s villains
  • You like comic events where big things happen
  • You want in on the discussion

Overall

As a DC fan I’m happy, but as a Nightwing fan I’m unhappy. Still, I recommend you pick this one up. You’ll want in on the debate about whether or not what happens here is good or bad for the future of the bat-titles. Note: I suggest you read the last issue of Trinity War before reading Forever Evil #1.

SCORE: 8/10