Today, Mikyzptlk and Drew are discussing Forever Evil 2, originally released October 2nd, 2013.
Mikyzptlk: Last month, the first issue of Forever Evil left me feeling relatively good about the start of DC’s first line-wide crossover since the inception of the New 52. Most of the heroes were gone, the Crime Syndicate was established, and Lex Luthor finally got a glance something that may just be worse than a bunch of costumed do-gooders. Ultimately, Forever Evil is about villains being forced into a position to fight a greater evil. I think that issue 1 gave us a pretty good starting point for that. Looking at issue 2, while I feel that there was some interesting developments, I can’t help but feel the entire issue suffered from structural issues, and that it was ultimately about getting Luthor to say one damn line.
Before I get into that particular line, let’s recap what came before this scene shall we? Alright, so Luthor is walking through the bowels of his headquarters when he stumbles upon the hapless security guard named Otis. The guard accompanies Luthor to a classified area where the two discover a pod labeled “B-0.” Yup, you guessed it, it’s Bizarro! Luthor awakens the super-clone prematurely and orders Bizarro to kill poor Otis. As B-man isn’t quite fully developed, it takes him a second to comply, but kills Otis on the spot when he threatens Luthor, resulting in Bizarro joining team-Luthor and the image above. The rest of Syndicate bask in their global takeover and contemplate about what to do about their mysterious prisoner. Ultraman commands he be kept alive and is then directed by Grid to take out a threat located in Kahndaq. Finally, back at Star Labs, Cyborg’s dad, Silas Stone, is protecting the Red Room from the baddies when Batman and Catwoman show up with a dying Cyborg stating that the other Leaguers “didn’t make it.”
Looking rough. Anyway, as cliffhangers go, I’d say this is a pretty effective one. I care a great deal about Cyborg, so I’m very much looking forward to finding out what happens to him. I’m assuming he’ll have a bit of a “Red Room Upgrade,” but we’ll talk about that more when we get to issue 3. Whatever happens, writer Geoff Johns succeeds in keeping me interested in this series based mainly on the promise of things to come. That’s another way of saying that I wasn’t entirely thrilled with issue 2 of this event. I feel the main problem stems from the structure of this issue and the fact that I think it set out to accomplish only one thing, namely, getting Luthor to say the line that I mentioned above.
Honestly, I think it’s a cool moment, and, if you read our coverage of issue 1, you know that I was hoping he’d say that very line. More importantly, it’s advancing the story we all came to see: heroic (by comparison) villains versus the Crime Syndicate. While I don’t have a problem with Luthor’s scenes in the least (in fact, I think they are the highlight of this issue), I do have a problem with the fact that the other scenes in this issue felt mostly disconnected from one another. Patrick complained about fragmentation in the first issue, but while that didn’t bother me in that issue for whatever reason, it does bother me here. So far, this series feels like Lex Luthor doing some stuff, while the Crime Syndicate does stuff, while everyone else does stuff. There were a couple of scenes that were clearly set-ups for other miniseries, which I felt led to that sense of fragmentation. Take the Teen Titans for example. Here they are (minus Bunker).
The Teen Titans foolishly, but, ya know heroically, attempt to rescue Nightwing at the Syndicate’s base. The Titans are taken out via Johnny Quick…quickly, and are then pulled away via a Kid Flash induced time vortex. I mean, that’s pretty cool I guess, except that none of that is going to play out in this series at all. This sequence wastes a lot of precious real estate and it isn’t the only one like this as the Rogues Rebellion series is set up in this issue as well. This series should be about evil being relative, or whatever the tagline suggested, not about setting up other ways for me to spend my money. It’s annoying, and I think it crowds this issue while simultaneously diluting the overall theme. Hopefully, issue 3 will start to see the necessary storylines begin to cross over, as it is in need of that at this point.
Overall, I clearly had some problems with this issue. At the same time, I feel that there were some interesting revelations. I also felt like Johns is doing a good job at keeping me intrigued with the prisoner. Hopefully, the next few issues will see less time spent on setting up tie-ins, and more time spent on the story itself. So Drew, what did you think? Are you having the same problems that I am, or is the story hooking you in enough to overlook them?
Drew: Mik, I’m glad you mentioned this series’ problematic tagline. The notion of the entire planet — even our most villainous members — would unite against an unthinkable alien force is an idea very dear to a modern comic fan’s heart, as it basically constitutes Veidt’s plan to create world peace in Watchmen. One of the things that series does so well is make you consider the morality of Veidt’s actions — sure, he killed millions of people, but he also helped unite the planet against a common enemy, effectively saving billions. Given that moral grey-area, it’s hard to see even the Earth-3 villains as particularly evil — if their actions ultimately create peace between heroes and villains, they may save more lives than they destroy.
Of course, that conclusion presumes the imminent exit of the Crime Syndicate, which this issue goes out of its way to frame. How do we bring down a guy like Ultraman? Well, perhaps we don’t have to, since Owlman and Super Woman are apparently angling to eliminate him, anyway. How do we bring down Power Ring? Again, we probably won’t have to, as his ring may just be killing him. How do we separate Johnny Quick and Atomica from the team? We probably won’t have to, as their recent separation has left them impulsive and irresponsible. How do we exploit a disagreement within the team? Whatever it is, it will probably have to do with their prisoner. We’re privy to a dozen chinks in the Crime Syndicate’s armor here, as Johns bends over backwards to show just how vulnerable the Crime Syndicate’s lack of teamwork makes them.
Without Earth-0 morality to make them value loyalty and teamwork, the Crime Syndicate amounts to little more than a series of independent islands, easily exploited by their apparent disdain for one another. It makes their eventual downfall feel all but inevitable, even without all of Lex Luthor’s machinations.
Mik, I fully agree that this issue spent way too much time setting up issues of other series, and not nearly enough making it any kind of coherent. I appreciate the return of Geoff Johns, master-plotter, but unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much else. Johns has very specifically kept us emotionally distant from the villains’ victims, but has also kept us emotionally distant from the villains themselves, leaving us people we don’t care about doing things we don’t care about to other people we don’t care about. Mik was able to salvage enough loyalty to Vic to maintain his interest in a plotline this issue does nothing to keep us invested in, but many fans don’t have that kind of patience. We’re told that our heroes are dead, but knowing that that can’t actually be true, we’re left to ignore that message until they stop saying it — effectively eliminating the fear that things might not return to the status quo. We know where this is going, and Johns’ hints at how it might finally happen feel like shallow teases.
It’s fair to say that I’m not entirely objective here — event fatigue had set in long before villains month began — but I think I still have a good handle on what makes a story engaging. Unfortunately, much of that has to be sacrificed for pacing (or to just give other series something to do), leaving potentially boring stories to be picked over by potentially boring series. It’s not a recipe for success, and Forever Evil 2 lives up to it perfectly.
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everyone keeps talking about event fatigue, but I that is relative to have many books you buy and from how many different publishers.
I read about 20 books a month but only Hawkeye, YA, Saga are outside of DC. So for me this is the first big event in 2 years. I never found the Batman crossovers that overwhelming as they only impacted a 1/2 dozen books. Just sayin’ Event fatigue is a personal thing not a real thing. 🙂
I think that event fatigue is a very real thing for those of us who feel compelled to read almost everything from the Big 2. I used to be that guy (and I had an empty wallet to prove it). I remember getting frustrated with events because I was already getting so many books, but then had to get more that I didn’t necessarily want to read because I had the mindset that I had to collect all of the tie-in’s to get the “complete” story.
Today, I know that the complete story is generally found in the main series, and I’ve learned to follow creators more so than anything else (though I still follow some terrible books to keep tabs with characters, Teen Titans I’m lookin’ at ya).
I hear what you are saying here. I have dropped a bunch of books because of creative (RHATO – art is horrible, Catwoman – Nocenti is worse than horrible, TT – lobdell is horrible) but still pay some attention to what is happening in them. I was happy to see how the TT were dealt with in this issue because now I dont feel any need to pick up their tie-in issues as I’d be shocked if it has anything to do with the main story! Thanks Geoff!
Yeah, I hear you there. If the Titans were going to have a large role in Forever Evil, I was kind of considering picking up the books again, at least for the issues that tied in, an I feel relieved now that I apparently have absolutely no need to.
Follow the creatives you like, guys – if I’ve learned one thing from Retcon Punch, it’s that characters don’t mean anything on their own. Similarly, something that’s “important” isn’t necessarily worth your time. The art is a function of the artists, and they need our support more than Batman or Superman or whatever.
I would argue that with the number of series this issue sets up, and considering the lead-up to Forever Evil was an event in an of itself, that this series sort of DEMANDS that you suffer from the same fatigue.
Also, I think we try to acknowledge Event Fatigute (or the more specific Evil Fatigue) precisely because it is personal. We always make a point of announcing our own baggage when it prevents us from having a totally impartial conversation about a comic, and fatigue is definitely one of those things.
That’s fair and annoucing biases is a good practice. I guess for me being somewhat new to Comics and not really following Marvel this is my first TRUE event and I’m enjoying it so I guess part of my critism comes from that as well.
Oh and I also totally think that my event fatigues are specific to the event. Like, I didn’t let my H’el on Earth Fatigue or my Third Army Fatigue effect my enjoyment of Rotworld. Just like right now — I’m straight up tired of Evil stuff, I’m starting to grow weary of Infinity, but I’m still fresh-as-a-daisy on Battle of the Atom. Not all events are created equal, but they all demand a lot of attention. Sometimes, it means a lot of negative attention…
Also, did you read the Aquaman / Justice League mini-event Throne of Atlantis? That was a fun event, almost a miniature Trinity War / Forever Evil, rolled into 6 neat issues.
I didn’t consider that an event, more like a mini-crossover. I read it, enjoyed, and thought it was somewhat filler. That said, I gather that it had more impact on the Aquaman title, which I don’t follow, than the Justice League one.
Here’s something that I think might be an even bigger problem. Events, as we understand them today, have become the way in which Marvel and DC frame nearly all of their stories these days. It seems like the majority of stories are either event lead-ups, tie-ins, or fallouts. Sure, there are still the standalone series (which tend to be better IMO). So, when someone says they have “event fatigue,” all I hear is that they have “publisher fatigue,” because they are frustrated with the bulk of what they are putting out.
I think I have publisher fatigue.
Yep. I specifically bring it up to admit that I may have lost a bit of objectivity as far as events go. That said, I think this issue largely fails on it’s own terms — we spend so much time focusing on the villains’ flaws, I’ve all but forgotten that they pose any kind of threat. Like, there’s even a discussion between them about how they don’t actually have to do anything themselves.
And I’m happy you brought it up! I think it’s important to know where criticisms are coming from, which has always been one of the best things about RP write-ups.
Do you have any thoughts on what this title can do to right its course? This question can go to anyone who has thoughts on this!
Part of the problem is that it’s a seven-part story that has to build to some kind of surprise reveal that none of the heroes are dead, after all. That means no significant conflicts until the end of the series, and no real characters to relate to in the meantime. It has basically none of the things that make stories engaging, making it a total slog to read. Geez, I guess I’m pretty bitter about this.
Hahaha. I feel your pain, but the way I look at it is that the character we are supposed relate to is Lex Luthor. Now, I know he’s a villain, but believe me, I’ve related to Luthor before, and it was a thrilling and creepy experience (Brian Azz’s Lex Luthor is AMAZING and Paul Cornell’s Action Comics run was also amazing).
Basically, I love it when Lex is the protagonist, and so far, Lex’s scenes have been my favorite of FE. I’m hoping to see more of that and less of what we’ve been complaining about.
Oh hey look, an 18-PART Forever Evil tie-in/crossover/event/whateverthefuck.
I should be excited about this, but it feels like my dad gave me yet another chore to do…and it’s Saturday…and I want to go ride my bike with my friends…and I hear the ice cream man down the street…and…
Ooof. That makes me want to skip out on the whole thing. I was already wavering on JLD after I discovered that Lemire wouldn’t be writing it any more (DC was quiet about the change over to J.M. DeMatias), but this sorta cinches it for me.
Also, this speaks volumes to confirm everyone’s fears that John Constantine was just going to become another dumb superhero. Look, I love dumb superheroes, but this is even frustrating to me.
DeMatias is good too, but he’s no Lemire.
Ick. 18 issues, half of them in series I don’t want to read…I think I’ll have to pass.
I’d love to see these blurbs used to advertise Forever Evil: Blight.
“Ooof.” “Ick.” “Good lord.”
Good lord, I have serious doubts that making this thing 18 parts is at all necessary
Also, the prisoner has to has to has to be Lex Luthor, right? ESPECIALLY because our Lex is poised to be the hero of Forever Evil.
My thoughts exactly. I’ve been calling that it would be Alexander Luthor since the last issue of Trinity War.
Not to pile more hate on this issue, but I’m really not digging David Finch’s art here. I know this is petty, but it’s just lazy to me that he can’t decide if Bizarro has long sleeves or not.
Also, there was the matter of Ultraman flying out of the watchtower towards Kahndaq and in the subsequent panel he’s standing beside Owlman in place of Superwoman. Unless I read it wrong.