DC Comics Forever Evil and The New 52’s Future [Spoilers]
Michael Moccio ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor
DC Comics Trinity War has officially ended and Forever Evil ushers in bright prospects for DC’s future. Before Trinity War, the storylines of DC’s largest titles—with the exception Batman and related titles, Aquaman, and Flash—have been haphazardly handled at best: uninspiring characters, flat writing, and boring plot. Trinity War has put everyone on the same page and now allows DC to focus on telling a compelling story with the material they’ve given themselves through Forever Evil.
Although the issue overall sported well designed artwork, there was one panel in particular that stood out as rather off.
The above pictures shows Barbara Gordon, hunched over a desk, with the waist size of a twig. While it isn’t necessarily new to portray women in comics as very thin and disproportionate, Barbara has always seemed to have an artist that understands her figure. As a crime fighter, gymnast, and athlete, she would have muscle definition and toning—her waist would most definitely not be that small. This stood out as a “huh” moment, especially due to several recent controversies DC has had on the topic of women. One would think DC would strive to have accurate depictions of female bodies after insinuating their readers want to read a Twilight-like romance.
The issue is strongest at the beginning.
Forever Evil begins by reintroducing two major players: Lex Luthor and Thomas Kord, the father of Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle. Johns handles Luthor perfectly: an anecdote about Luthor’s experience while rescuing a cat encapsulates Luthor’s twisted sense of morality. It also reintroduces Lena Luthor and reminds us that while Lex is a villain, he’s still human, has a family, and—in his own twisted way—is doing what he believes is best for the world. This level of characterization has been absent in the New 52.
Johns ups the stakes of the story by stacking the odds in favor of the villains. Metropolis and Gotham lose all power, as will the rest of the world once the new villain Grid gains control of the world’s power and communications control. By breaking down communication, Johns has set up a world where the heroes cannot coordinate and launch a counterattack effectively: this has been used in Final Crisis, where the Flashes took up roles as communicators and messengers, and in No Man’s Land when Gotham plunged into a desolate wasteland. Although this plot device has been used before, it’s a great way to increase the tension and keep readers on the edge of their seats, asking themselves, “How will the heroes win if that happened?”
The story progresses and the Crime Syndicate gathers all the villains, which essentially creates a new world order. The first act of this new world order is to make an example out of a hero, which happens to be Nightwing.
Johns handles this extremely well, taking bold moves by having Nightwing’s identity exposed to the world.
This kind of writing is what the New 52 should be about: storytelling that explores plot that develops from fully developed characters making understandable decisions. Owlman goes to Arkham in the beginning of the issue to break out the supervillains, because Gotham is his home turf. Nightwing is there by coincidence, but does the heroic—yet unexplainably naïve—thing and intervenes. A quip from Power Ring—Green Lantern’s analogue—reveals that Owlman also had Dick Grayson as a partner and something happened between them. This one line gives believability to the Crime Syndicate’s actions by revealing a link between Nightwing and Owlman.
Moreover, this completely changes the status quo of the universe. With Dick Grayson revealed to be Nightwing, readers should be questioning whether or not Bruce Wayne’s identity will be revealed. They should question if the entire operation of Batman is in jeopardy, while questioning if any of the heroes are going to make it out in one piece to worry about the repercussions of the Crime Syndicate’s actions.
Johns ensures the readers that there will be interesting stories to come with Ultraman’s final monologue of the issue: “We will hunt down and destroy everything this Richard Grayson cares about. All who would oppose us—you risk not your lives, but the lives of those you cherish. Your family, friends, and neighbors will die while you watch.”
Nightwing is a very special member of the DC Universe: he has worked with most of the heroes that populate the universe and holds essentially everyone’s trust. By threatening to destroy everything Dick cares about, Ultraman is essentially saying they’re coming after everyone in the hero community.
The final highlight of the issue is the last scene, where Lex openly admits that this is a job for Superman. While all the other villains sit idly by underneath the Crime Syndicate’s rule, Lex realizes that this isn’t a good situation. We ultimately see the beginning of Earth’s counterattack, spearheaded by one of Earth’s most stringent defenders. Although Lex occupies himself by defending the Earth from Superman, it’ll be exciting to see how he defends the Earth against the Crime Syndicate.
After the strong beginning, the issue lulls into rehashed ideas and questionable decisions.
Readers have no idea what happened to the Justice League. Withholding information works in some cases, but this is not one. While the Crime Syndicate says the Justice League is dead, we’re more than sure DC would never kill all of their main characters at once, which begs the question—where are they? Without this crucial bit of information, the readers are left wondering about what happened in the past and not anticipating the future. This keeps them focused on what happened, and inhibits them from engaging in the story by not being able to predict what happens next.
We see Ultraman use Green Kryptonite to increase his power. He melts the rock and imbibes it like a drug. Although similar in feeling to Red Arrow’s addiction to heroin, this is a move that could potentially make or break the series in the future. By showcasing Ultraman’s reliance on Green Kryptonite as a power booster to Lex Luthor, the story seems fairly predictable, in so far as that will play into Ultraman’s defeat.
The most questionable thing about the entire issue is the cabal of villains that gather. Several of them seem out of place: Deathstroke, Deadshot, Despero, Black Mask, the Penguin, Man-Bat, Gorilla Grodd, Harley Quinn, Victor Zsasz and Hugo Strange stood out specifically. Many of these characters have traits that would most likely lead them to ignoring the Society’s grasp for power.
Deathstroke is a mercenary—there is no money in this and he is sure to have more than enough to deal with already; Black Mask is a gangster running an operation in Gotham; and Victor Zsasz kills indiscriminately and would most likely kill the villains there to satisfy his need for blood. These are only a couple of examples, but it’s strange to see characters that would otherwise be expected to remain absent.
The ending is by far the weakest point of the entire story. Ultraman moves the moon in place of the sun. First of all, the moon doesn’t revolve around the Earth at the same speed as the Earth revolves around the sun—this is only a temporary measure and won’t hold back the sunlight for a very long time. Second of all, moving the moon has catastrophic consequences for the Earth. These consequences must be addressed in the coming issues, as moving the moon will affect the tides and gravity, which could potentially cause “great flooding, with cities such as London and New York disappearing under water.”
It seemed like a very strange thing for Ultraman to do and even stranger for Owlman to refrain from saying, “Even if I had a week, I couldn’t list all the reasons why that’s a terrible idea.”
Overall, the issue gets a 7/10 with high expectations for future issues.