Forever Evil #2
Forever Evil #2
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: David Finch
Inker: Richard Friend
Colorist Sonia Oback
Letterer: Carlos M Mangual
I think Marvel's accelerated shipping schedule has ruined my patience for "normal" event pacing. Forever Evil #2 is a very mixed bag issue, and I think I would have focused in more on the aspects of the story I liked had I been secure in the knowledge that another chapter was just two weeks away not a whole month. As it stands, Forever Evil is an entertaining but ultimately unsatisfying issue as it continues to tease at interesting mysteries and plot twists while never really advancing the plot past where the first issue left off. Further more certain beats of the story highlight some of the biggest weaknesses of the DCnU.
Following their proclamation that the Justice League is dead, and our world is now theirs, the Crime Syndicate takes time to regroup and wallow in their own dysfunction. There is a very creepy, unsettling element that Johns imbues into the script in the scenes where we readers are a fly on the wall as the Crime Syndicate discusses business. While the dialogue is not the most organic I've ever read, Johns is very efficiently able to establish the team's dynamic while layering in exposition and sub-plots. I also really like that Johns isn't softening the native Earth 1 villains who will presumably be the protagonists of this event. It would be a very easy choice to paint Lex Luthor as a preferable alternative to the Crime Syndicate, but Johns uses a key scene to remind readers just Luthor is a heartless, self-serving egotist, and that his victory over the Crime Syndicate might not be a preferable alternative.
Less successful were the scenes that focused on the wider DC universe. The murkiness of the new fictional history of the DC Universe is still something I find to be problematic, despite the fact that am usually a strong proponent of the idea that stories should not be slaves to continuity. Case in point, I honestly thought we had seen Bizarro in the New 52 before, or that it was just a given that he was a classic Superman villain. Trying to wrack my brain for where I had seen him before really killed the momentum of the read. Furthermore, the Teen Titans' brief appearance is something of a gut punch given how neutered these characters have become in the New 52. The fact that every character with the exception of Tim Drake suffers from a case of same voice is especially sad given that Johns was the one who revitalized these teen heroes several years back, and was a sore reminder of just how much of Johns' good work the reboot had stripped away. I don't think Johns has forgotten how to write these characters, I just think their new incarnations don't give him a whole lot to work with.
I've never been a huge fan of David Finch's style and this series isn't doing a whole lot to change my mind. Emotiveness has always been a weak point for the artist and this issue is no different as his expressions can be cartoonishly exaggerated and some characters' faces seem to change from panel to panel. Additionally some of the already lackluster costume redesigns (looking at you Teen Titans) look even more out of place under Finch's dark, heavily inked lifework. I will say that his rendition of Deathstorm is equally gruesome and horrifying and he does effectively convey a lot through Power Ring's body language.
Forever Evil #2 was a fairly uneven issue and an unfortunate stumble in momentum so quickly out of the gate. A lot of small interesting character moments does not completely forgive a lack of forward momentum in the plot or real depth beyond the simple thrill of villains slugging it out. It is still early in the series, and Johns has given me more than enough to stay on the hook, but I think I would be a lot more optimistic about my enthusiasm for this event holding if the chapters shipped more frequently.