Although solicitations made Martian Manhunter and Stargirl’s confrontation with the lunatics of Gotham City sound like the main attraction, issue #11 only spends about 8 exciting pages in Batman’s hometown before moving on to a road trip that sees the pair traveling across the nation to reach Stargirl’s family or Firestorm, whichever comes first.

While the streets of Gotham to do not play an important part in this issue, it’s still a thrilling sequence. The opening pages will rock your socks off with images of an injured J’onn fighting for his life against Clayface. Not only is Clayface highly formidable with J’onn in his weakened state, but Gotham itself feels far more dangerous than it does in the current Arkham War mini-series. When J’onn and Stargirl finally make it out of the city, you’ll actually feel yourself breathing a sigh of relief for these characters and that’s the desired effect a Gotham overrun by the inmates of Arkham should have!

Following the escape from Gotham the comic starts to stumble ever so slightly with some rather poor pacing. J’onn details the importance of finding Firestorm, who holds all of the captive Justice League in his mind, and Stargirl stresses how important it is for her to reach LA and her family since this is the end of the world and all her thoughts are with her parents. The two state that it will take days to fly from Gotham to LA and I felt that we were really in for quite the journey, but the pacing takes an incredible leap and by the very next page they’ve already reached Denver, Colorado, thus destroying any sense of an arduous voyage across the continent. It felt like they went from Jersey to the Rockies in the blink of an eye, which seems like pretty good time.

They stop to deal with a disaster in Denver involving a robot and there is some rather muddled mention of Black Adam or perhaps Shazam that I didn’t quite grasp (he’s described as being in his red uniform, but red-suit Shazam is currently locked away in Firestorm’s mind and Black Adam wears, well, black). It should have been another captivating action scene and it even featured a surprise villain who I think is perfectly suited for a Martian Manhunter rogues gallery, but the entire sequence is interrupted by brief flashbacks to Stargirl’s past that not only felt unnecessary after last month’s issue but totally confusing given what was currently happening in the story at hand.

The final scene of the issue was especially exciting and left me wanting more. It interested me so much that I’m considering keeping the book in the review rotation next month. Does it add anything substantial to Forever Evil? No. But I think that with the introduction of this particular villain, the journey J’onn and Stargirl are on has become quite a bit more interesting.

The artwork by Tom Derenick and Eddy Barrows is quite good and a definite upgrade from what I saw in today’s earlier review comics (Batgirl & Nightwing). The action sequence with Clayface was very well done and even showed the villain trying out a few new moves that were pretty terrifying. Man-Bat is also shown briefly and looked very threatening, but it was definitely the layout and pacing of the Clayface fight that will stick with me the most. The closing panels with Stargirl are also terrifying. The battle in Denver could have been more visually interesting with a better detailed city and a scarier robot, but Matt Kindt’s narration made it all work well enough to get us to the reveal of that bad guy whose name I won’t mention outside of spoiler tags. I just wish that those flashback panels hadn’t been slipped in as well.

Recommended If…

  • You like the idea of
    Spoiler
    Despero
    and Martian Manhunter being adversaries as much as I do
  • Stargirl is one of your favorite heroes
  • You’re looking for big action featuring A-list and B-list villains, monsters, and robots

Overall

This duo’s road trip doesn’t offer much in the grand scheme of things and isn’t exactly must-reading for those following Forever Evil, but it has some great action, particularly in Gotham, and really nice artwork. It gets hard to follow once Stargirl begins having flashbacks, but I am enjoying the other scenes that develop the friendship between her and J’onn.

SCORE: 7/10