I look at the cover and I get excited. The idea of watching Lex Luthor convince Black Adam, Manta, and The Rogues to team-up sounds like a lot of fun, but issue #3 goes about it in such a lazy way that it’s all surprisingly forgettable and I actually found myself enjoying today’s Zero Year tie-ins more than the major event that is Forever Evil.
The third installment of Geoff Johns and David Finch’s epic begins where chapter 2 left off, the Red Room. Batman and Catwoman have somehow survived and even more shockingly, Cyborg is still hanging on despite being little more than half a head with lungs… no, wait, those were replaced in the Throne of Atlantis storyline– HOW IS THIS MAN STILL ALIVE?! Anyway, Batman spends the opening pages giving us the exposition we’ve long been waiting for: what happened to the Justice League. We learned about their fate in last month’s issue of JLA, but as for how the Crime Syndicate managed to thoroughly trounce every hero was still a mystery until now. The concept of how they are all captured is certainly a cool one and it’s accompanied by some nice imagery by Finch, but Johns still glosses over how this incredible event didn’t trap Batman and Catwoman or the Crime Syndicate themselves.
Something even more distracting occurred on the opening pages as well. The colorist painted Batman’s eye brown in one panel and blue in the others, a minor mistake. But then the colors and the illustrations go absolutely haywire. Batman’s cowl damage is constantly changing! In one panel it’s perfectly intact, the next it’s slightly tattered off to the side, then a piece of the cowl is missing from his eye, then it’s back again, then we’re missing more than half the mask again but there’s still a visible pencil-line of where the cowl should extend to… These are such obvious inconsistencies that I don’t understand how they made it through. Even Bizzaro’s attire has changed since we saw him in chapter 2. In last month’s issue we saw Bizzaro don a t-shirt but here he’s wearing the long-sleeve uniform.
The artwork is the weakest of the series to date. For every jaw-dropping shot of a dismembered Cyborg, Bizzaro hoisting a satellite dish, or triumphant Deathstorm there are a number of sketchy panels with characters who all share the exact same face (tight skin, large eyes, high cheekbones). I was particularly underwhelmed by the Black Adam vs. Ultraman fight, which looked so cool in the last issue of Justice League and had a tremendous amount of hype around it and here it was depicted as a 3-punches-and-done snooze. Black Adam himself is still drawn like the corrupted version of Shazzam seen in Trinity War (I still need to read Black Adam #1 from Villains Month).
Now, despite all those negatives, issue #3 does take great strides to further the plot. Those opening pages provide quite a few answers and just as the cover implies we do start to see a coming-together of our traditional baddies. Geoff Johns offers some funny moments between Luthor and Bizzaro, and Deathstorm looks so bad ass in this that a part of me wishes that he sticks around when Forever Evil is over as an ongoing villain in the rogues gallery of a hero who needs a quality foe. But what hurt the book for me was the number of coincidences it takes for Luthor, Manta, Black Adam, and The Rogues to come together. Watching them casually stumble upon one another was neither interesting or exciting to watch. It felt like we were going through the motions and little else.
- You want to know how the Crime Syndicate defeated all of the Justice Leagues in one fell swoop
- Deathstorm interests you as a villain
- You like the chemistry of Luthor and his lackey Bizzaro
- You read the Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion series, some very important stuff happens with Flash’s bad guys in this issue
Forever Evil #3 does further the plot but it does so with too many coincidences, contrivances, and inconsistent panels. While it should be cool to see these villains pull together during the DC universe’s darkest hour they stumble upon one another all too conveniently and it makes their rally a lot less interesting. I found this issue to have a few cool moments, particularly with the villainous Deathstorm, and it does answer a number of questions but ultimately it didn’t entertain me as much as the previous installments. The ingredients are there for a really great comic, but it seems only half-baked.