Review: Forever Evil #5

I’m not sure what DC is doing. And I really hate that that’s how all my conversations about them have started for the last year and a half. I was into the New 52 at the beginning; Scott Snyder’s Batman and the Court of Owls crossover was strong, Jeff Lemire’s Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. was a fun riff on the Universal monster movies and Nick Fury-type superspying. And then I spent the next 18 months getting more and more underwhelmed. Becoming only quasi-whelmed. Forever Evil is the second crossover DC has done in a row, which regardless of narrative value makes for an incredibly dense universe without a clear entry point. But that’s beside the point. The point is that the fifth issue of the miniseries is out.

The Sinestro vs. Power Ring battle was hyped at the end of issue 4, and I expected to follow that for a while, and maybe learn anything, literally anything at all, about Power Ring. Regardless, that battle is a fraction of the issue, as we mostly continue to follow Lex and his new ad-hoc Justice League, who are now working with Batman and Catwoman. The issue is also gorier than I remember pre-New 52 getting away with. There’s some severed limbs and more of the same bodies exploding that we’ve been seeing for the entire miniseries. It’s not an Avatar book, but it’s not shying away from any blood’n guts.

I haven’t hated this miniseries like I thought I would (damning the series with faint praise?), but I’m far from in love with it. David Finch’s art is pretty great, as usual. He always reminds me of a more realistically-inclined Sean Murphy, which can only work out well. He’s done really well creating the Forever Evil world—Grid’s design continually gives me something new to discover, and his Bizzaro is both horrifyingly “undercooked” and lovingly rendered.

Forever Evil #5 CoverGeoff Johns, though. Before he was king shit at DC and creating overarching universe-update storylines (I swear to god, if I hear him say “change in status quo” a couple more times...), I enjoyed his smaller work. Like, I never cared for Green Lantern at all until I started reading his run. The problem, as with his current work, was when he tried to use GL to take over the universe with Blackest Night. He’s a man who really excels at taking characters you don’t think much about (Green Lantern and Aquaman, as obvious examples), picks apart what makes them compelling, and then makes you fall in love with them.

You can tell in Forever Evil that he loves all of the characters. He even loves the Crime Syndicate, who literally nobody loves. He’s taking Batman and turning the parts of Batman that everyone loves, like his tendency to let’s say over prepare and take charge in any and all situations, and he’s turned that upside down. It’s an interesting dynamic for a power play, but I really don’t know where they’re going with it.

Marvel excels at making crossovers that relatively stand on their own, and that launch out of character interactions. Age of Ultron was practically built for the non-regular reader, and Avengers vs. X-Men was exactly what it sounded like, which everyone wants. Forever Evil launches from Trinity War, which launched from a) random appearances by Pandora in all the “phase one” books as a character that was almost impossible to find, and b) a bunch of mini-series built specifically to lead into them. This whole miniseries has been sort of a fun little jaunt into what happens when Superman’s not on hand, but the whole shebang feels extraneous. At this point, I’ll buy the last two issues, but only out of an obsessive-compulsive desire for completeness, not necessarily to see how the unnamed threat that I’ve taken to calling (SPOILER ALERT) the “Doctor Who Season 5 MacGuffin” is going to pan out.

Score: 3/5

Writer: Geoff Johns Artist: David Finch Inker: Richard Friend Letterer: Sonia Oback Publisher: DC Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 1/22/14