At the conclusion of Trinity War, nearly all of Earth’s heroes vanished. The Crime Syndicate, an evil reflection of the Justice League, conquered our world and freed every sinister villain in the process. These events unfolded in the pages of Forever Evil while the Justice League title revealed Cyborg to be alive and rallying allies to confront the seemingly unstoppable Crime Syndicate. But what became of the heroes who disappeared? That is where Justice League of America: Survivors of Evil shares its side of the story.
Justice League of America, Vol. 2: Survivors of Evil by Matt Kindt, Doug Mahnke, Tom Derenick, Eddy Barrows, and R. B. Silva includes issues #8-14 of the short-lived New 52 JLA series. No Villains Month issues or chapters from Forever Evil are included. The penultimate issue actually ends with a splash page adorned with an advertisement that reads “CONCLUDED IN FOREVER EVIL.”
The way I see it there are two reasons to read this book, but only one of them will leave you satisfied.
- You’re here to fill in the blanks from Forever Evil
- You adore Stargirl
If you’re thinking about grabbing this book next time you head to the comic shop because you fall into category #1, then I have to stop you now. Don’t waste your time. If you’ve already read Forever Evil then you’ve got the gist of it. You can go Google some images or read the wikipedia page on Forever Evil to answer your questions and save yourself some coin. This isn’t about The Justice League. It isn’t about The Justice League of America. It’s not even really about the prison. It’s about Martian Manhunter and (mostly) Stargirl, two characters with a convenient excuse for not being locked up like the rest of the good guys, and the bond that forms between them during their time of struggle.
The mysterious prison everyone is trapped inside and Martian Manhunter’s campaign to free them all is derivative of the Justice League: The Animated Series episode “Only a Dream” with mental cages designed for each hero’s unique flaws but JLA’s telling is nowhere near as entertaining and after a couple of predictable twists it really feels like you totally wasted your time reading like five issues of this thing. I suspect a big reason for that is because nothing major can happen in this book without affecting Forever Evil and Forever Evil is Geoff Johns’ baby. Survivors of Evil feels restrained. The events that unfold during its Forever Evil tie-in chapters could have easily been condensed into one or two solid issues instead of six, but it’s paced slowly, grows repetitive, and pads its pages with Stargirl’s backstory– mind you, this will only feel like padding and bore you to tears if you came here for a meaningful Forever Evil companion.
It honestly reads like author Matt Kindt (an excellent writer who did Mind MGMT, which is an absolute must-read) was tasked with wasting time until the book’s cancellation and the launch of its follow-up, which was being developed by a totally different creative team. Kindt is incapable of driving the characters anywhere too interesting without rocking the boat for the next creative team and he can’t take the prison story to its natural conclusion because that’s Geoff Johns’ job with Forever Evil. Johns is like the mom putting all the ingredients in the bowl and Kindt is the kid who gets to stir the spoon once or twice, but he’s not really helping and he’s definitely not allowed anywhere near the oven. And speaking of creative teams, it’s incredible that this collection actually maintains a consistent look given the fact that so many fill-in artists had to be employed to get it out on time. None of the artwork is all that memorable, but it’s amazing that the transition between Mahnke Derenick, Barrows, and others was relatively seamless. However, I still believe somebody on this team could’ve recognized and quickly revised that one cover that looks like Stargirl taking a golden poo.
Now, back to reason #2. If you love Stargirl then congratulations, I can confidently recommend that you should go out and buy Justice League of America: Survivors of Evil. While the book is only a moderately entertaining addition to Forever Evil until its obvious “oh, f**k you.” twist, it does offer a fairly decent origin story for Stargirl and a charming look at the blossoming friendship between her and Martian Manhunter. And, if you’re at all interested in the follow-up series Justice League United, once the Forever Evil tie-in stuff is over you’ll be treated to JLA‘s final issue. This chapter serves as a nice prologue to Justice League United and a terrible recap of Forever Evil. I mean, there is a two-page spread that depicts events from Forever Evil that just flat-out never happened. But back to the JLA, you’ll get a rundown on what became of most of the members and a few hints at what’s to come in JLU. Some elements actually pay off later on, like Green Arrow’s eagerness to still be a part of a team. Then some elements won’t pay off at all, like Catwoman using a TDKR inspired “Clean Slate” to sponge her record, something that never gets mentioned again in any other book. And Some elements will leave you profoundly annoyed, like what the heck happened to Vibe and Element Woman (seriously, if that should’ve been touched on more in any DC book, it was this one).
Looking back at JLA as a whole, I think that there was a lot of wasted potential. Besides playing the role of dragging even more characters into the Trinity War event this book really didn’t accomplish much at all. There were some strong characters on this team and it was fun watching them interact until the big events started. Come to think of it… Simon Baz did basically nothing throughout this series. I don’t even think he had a line until issue #9 or so…
For a more detailed commentary on most (I quit reading after issue #11 when this story unfolded in monthly installments last year) of the issues featured in this volume, check out the links below:
There’s a variant cover gallery followed by six pages of sketched variant cover layouts. There was nothing particularly memorable about the artwork of this book to begin with so these extras did nothing to excite me.
Value: Dirt Cheap
There’s no re-read value here unless you’re a huge fan of Stargirl. You’d have to be crazy to spend the full price of $24.99 on this thing.
Don’t pick it up because you think it will add something substantial to Forever Evil. It doesn’t. In fact, it works better as a prologue to the follow-up series Justice League United. But if that doesn’t interest you and you’re not a fan of Stargirl there’s really no reason to buy this book. It’s not bad, it’s just really forgettable stuff.