Forever Evil is finally over and what a huge event it has been. Taking place in four special miniseries titles as well as up to seven ongoing titles (mostly in the various Justice League books), we are left with more than just a bad case of event fatigue. There are several big consequences of this several-month-long event and even more hints of things that DC may have planned down the line. Let’s look at a few of the fallout of Forever Evil and see what some of these ramifications might be for the Batman Universe. Warning, though, the rest of the article contains spoilers from Forever Evil #7, Justice League #30, and Justice League of America #14 as well as all of the preceding issues that were part of the event.
The consequence that is the most widely known already is the final fate of Nightwing. Dick Grayson was unmasked in the early issues of Forever Evil and although the Crime Syndicate imprisoned him for most of the event, his fate was still central to what was going on in the story. It has been widely reported both that Lex Luthor stopped Dick’s heart in Forever Evil #6 in order to disarm a bomb that was essentially timed by his heartbeat. We already knew that Dick’s solo title, Nightwing, was ending with issue #30 and were it not for other advanced news and solicitations; we might have believed this was the final end of Dick Grayson. However, around the time of the release of Forever Evil #6, it was also revealed that Dick was getting a new solo title, Grayson, which begins in July. All that was left for Nightwing was to fill in the blanks of how we got from one point to the next. We got some of those answers with the end of Forever Evil with more answers promised in the final issue of Nightwing.
After the bomb was safely disarmed with Dick’s heart stopped, Lex Luthor reveals in Forever Evil #7 that he had drugged Nightwing ahead of time to allow him to be able to stop the heart and then revive him shortly after. Despite Catwoman’s wonderings as to whether Lex always intended to bring Dick back or if Batman’s violent threats led to restoring him to life, Dick was finally alive and we knew he’d survive the event. We also get a glimpse of Bruce telling Dick he had a dangerous mission for him that would require him to leave Nightwing behind forever in one page towards the end of Forever Evil #7. Presumably, we will learn more about the details of this new mission in Nightwing #30. Either way, as had been rumored, we have already seen that Batman does not share these details with the rest of the Batman family as we see both Red Robin and Batgirl reacting to and mourning Dick’s death in recent issues of Teen Titans and Batgirl respectively.
As part of the New 52’s version of the Justice League of America, Catwoman was involved from Forever Evil from the beginning. After the most of the members of the Justice League and the Justice League of America were imprisoned in the brain matrix of Firestorm, Catwoman along with Batman joined Lex Luthor and the other villains-turned-heroes in saving the day in Forever Evil #5-6, and defeating the Crime Syndicate and freeing the Justice Leagues in Forever Evil #7. However, as the Justice League of America took most of the blame for the events of Forever Evil, they were disbanded by their sponsors, the American government. Despite the fact that a new team is being created out of the ashes of the JLA (the newly formed and already released Justice League United), it was revealed in Justice League of America #14 that Catwoman had returned to her old life with no desire to participate. In addition, we also see that Batman gave her a software program that would erase her true identity from the databanks at A.R.G.U.S. effectively removing herself from participating in the larger intelligence community for the foreseeable future and returning to a life of walking the line between villain and hero. Lastly, in Forever Evil #7 we get a final scene between Catwoman and Batman that is directly reminiscent of their final scene in the Gothtopia arc from Detective Comics. Selina mentions to Batman that they had worked so well as a team and they might consider continuing the closer partnership. However, just like after Gothtopia, Batman responds that he has nothing left to say and wants no consistent partnership at all, returning their relationship to the New 52’s status quo for them.
Red Robin/Teen Titans
While the Teen Titans were thrown out of the picture at the beginning of Forever Evil into the trial of Kid Flash in the distant future, they return just as the event ends. Despite a desire to return in enough time to help Earth’s other heroes, the authorities of the future say they can only send them back after the crisis has ended. Although, the last stories of Teen Titans before the end of the series (although it has already been reported that a new Teen Titans will be relaunched later this year) we see Tim return to somewhat of a partnership with Batman, which is how they both seem to want things.
Some of the results of Forever Evil were revealed before the final related issues. Readers had already seen Gotham restored to its normal status (well, as normal as Gotham ever is) at the end of the Forever Evil: Arkham War title and the one shot Forever Evil Aftermath: Batman vs. Bane special. Batman defeated Bane ending his rule of the city but only after most of the costumed villains who had been at war with Bane’s army had been committed to Penguin. There have been no further hints about what Penguin might do with these villains or what other fallout Gotham might see in the wake of this event, but with another big event (Batman: Eternal), already going within Gotham it seems like those questions may be left unanswered for now.
One final consequence that might affect the Batman Universe in a more direct way is the fact that in the wake of the event, Lex Luthor has discovered Batman’s secret identity. Many people had speculated that it would not be hard for people to draw a line from Dick Grayson as Nightwing to Bruce Wayne as Batman since early issue of Forever Evil had revealed Dick’s alter ego and it seems that at least Lex Luthor was able to do just that at the end of Forever Evil #7. Because of Batman’s emotional response to Nightwing’s apparent death and the obvious connections between Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne, the incredibly smart Lex Luthor put the pieces together. We even see Lex show up at the door to Wayne Manor telling Alfred to announce his presence to Batman at the end of Justice League #30. The mostly likely result of this knowledge is that Lex Luthor will blackmail Batman into letting him be part of the Justice League. Lex was denied this privilege in Justice League #30 even after he gave the League a brand-new Watchtower satellite, literally saved Superman’s life by removing a shard of kryptonite from his brain, and allowed the League to interrogate him using Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth to make sure he had no motives more sinister than his admitted egotism. With his newfound knowledge and the fact that we know Lex is always one to scheme to get his way, it may not be surprising if blackmail is his intent in showing up at Bruce Wayne’s front door.
One consequence that many seem to be overlooking in the wake of Forever Evil deals with Batman’s alter ego from Earth 3, Owlman. Although part of the Crime Syndicate that took over the world and imprisoned the Justice League, in the end Owlman claims to have been more interested in renewing a partnership with Dick Grayson as Nightwing’s counterpart from the alternate Earth had been a friend to Owlman. With his version of Alfred dead as well, Owlman helps Batman, Lex Luthor and company escape with the resurrected Dick Grayson in the pages of Forever Evil #7. In return, Batman and Luthor decide to let Owlman go as well. No hints were given as to what Owlman’s future might be, but we know that he is still on the Earth in regular continuity and may play a part in future DC events. Perhaps he will even get the partnership with Dick that he wants were he also to become a part of the SPYRAL organization on which the new Grayson title will be based.
Anti-Monitor and Future Crisis?
Finally, the big reveal of the end of Forever Evil is one that will not only have consequences for the Batman Universe but for the DC Universe as a whole. We knew from the beginning of the event that the Crime Syndicate came to Earth not only for conquest but also because their own world had been ravaged and destroyed by some powerful, unnamed entity. Readers had been led to believe that this person was Darkseid who has already attacked both Prime Earth and Earth 2 and might have logically continued to Earth 3 afterwards. We even see the Justice League assuming the very same thing. However, the final page of Forever Evil #7 reveals that the world-destroying entity was actually the New 52 version of the Anti-Monitor. As many long-time readers of DC comics will know, the Anti-Monitor (in the old continuity) was previously seen as the main villain in the 1985 storyline, Crisis on Infinite Earths. In Forever Evil #7, we see an off-panel character tell the Anti-Monitor that a new universe has been found for him to devour. This plays directly into what was already known about the world-destroying villain who forced the collapse of the DC multiverse in Crisis.
However, the reappearance of the Anti-Monitor may be more than just the reintroduction of an old character into the new universe as a villain for the Justice League to battle. Forever Evil #7 also revealed that Superwoman’s unborn infant is the son of Alexander Luthor from Earth 3 who will be presumably named Alexander Luthor, Jr when he is born. This character also has continuity changing implications, as he was a hero who helped to save Prime Earth in Crisis on Infinite Earths and was later seen trying to destroy it in Infinite Crisis in 2005.
Both of these things become even more suggestive when combined with the fact that next year (April to be precise) will be the 30-year anniversary of Crisis and the fact that all of the weekly series DC is starting this year will end next April. We also already know that both Darkseid and Apokolips will play central roles in the Futures End and Earth 2: World’s End weeklies as well as the Robin Rising: Omega one-shot in July. With Darkseid already being aware of the New 52 multiverse and the Anti-Monitor calling him out as an enemy by name in the finale to Forever Evil, perhaps these events and characters will all coincide in a larger continuity-altering event next April. In a recent interview with Dan DiDio, Newsarama suggested something along those lines that they said was answered with “nervous laughter” and no real answer. Some have even speculated that this event could mean another reboot of the DC universe or the return to the old, pre-New 52 universe. Whether those speculations play out over the course of the next year remains to be unseen. Either way, we can be fairly certain that the fallout and repercussions of Forever Evil are not over yet and may be larger than is apparent at the moment for both the Batman Universe and the DC Universe as a whole.
Posted by Terry Hughston