The issue, written by Geoff Johns with art by David Finch, once again starts with Lex Luthor as he explores the blacked-out lower levels of Lex Corp. On the way to his destination he finds Otis, a security guard, and the two continue on Lex's journey. We then cut to San Francisco where Tim is rallying the Teen Titans to go and attempt to take out the Crime Syndicate and rescue Nightwing. We then see Gotham, Washington, D.C. and Central City, all under attack from their most infamous residents as well as the effect that pushing the moon out of orbit had on the world a tidal waves and earthquakes start occurring all over the globe.
At the former Justice League Watchtower, the Crime Syndicate are taking watch over the destruction. Johnny Quick, however, is being particularly impatient and he and Atomica decide to go on a crime spree. Owlman, on the other hand, is saying they should keep Earth's armies and law agencies intact as they will need an infrastructure to take over, with their people at the head of them they will have an easier time controlling Earth. Power Ring appears to be reacting badly to his own ring and Grid is scouring the globe for uprisings, prioritizing the greatest threats, priority one being in Kahndaq. Before flying off to handle this, Ultraman visits the next room where Alfred is watching over a "Hitchhiker". Owlman wants to kill him but Ultraman sees use for him, there is also mention of a "thing" that came to Earth 3 that nearly destroyed them before they escaped to Earth 1/Prime/Whatever Earth the regular continuity takes place in. The group appear fearful of this "thing" but Owlman wants him dead regardless, it is made clear that Superwoman and Ultraman are somewhat romantically involved when she agrees with Owlman, only to be scolded by Ultraman but when he flies off to tackle the uprising in Kahndaq, it is revealed that Superwoman is pregnant with Owlman's child.
Back at Lex Corp, Lex has reached his destination, a large cloning vat containing subject B-0. The subject is the result of Luthor constructing a clone from a single cell of Kryptonian blood. However, at 5 years the the process is still only half complete but with the blackout, the subject is already deteriorating and will die shortly anyway, so Lex decides to call it in to action earlier than intended. Upon release from the cloning vat, the creature is immediately ordered by Lex to kill Otis. Otis firs his gun in self defense yet the subject does nothing, that is until Otis points the gun at Lex Luthor, at which point, the subject leaps in to action and tears the man apart. Satisfied, Lex leads the subject to another room where he hands him a homemade Superman costume whilst he dons his famous, purple and green power armor. Subject B-0 puts his suit on inside out so the "S" is reversed (get it now? "B-Zero"?) but there's no more time to correct him as "This is a job for Lex Luthor".
As all of this is going on, we also see the Teen Titans arriving in Happy Harbor, ready to take down the Crime Syndicate but they don't even get passed Johnny Quick and Atomica as they take down the teens with ease. The fight ends when Quick vibrates Kid Flash at a frequency that causes a wormhole to open up and suck him as well as the rest of the Titans in to Kid Flash's future timeline.
The issue ends in S.T.A.R. labs where Silas Stone and an associate are about to destroy the contents of "The Red Room" (a room full of the most dangerous technology on the planet) so that the Crime Syndicate can't get their hands on it. However, as they are charging up an enormous laser, a battle ravaged Catwoman and Batman, carrying the nearly dead Cyborg, burst in to the room. When asked where the rest of the League are, Batman replies that they didn't make it.
To be continued…
Once again I really enjoyed this issue; it continued the plot at a decent pace that meant I felt we were constantly advancing the story but enough time was also taken to flesh out the characters. The Crime Syndicate shouldn't just be taken for granted as the opposite of the Justice League, Johns spends time with each character so that we know a little more about them each issue. It’s really interesting to read a story from the perspectives of the villains; it doesn't necessarily make you sympathize with them, but it is enjoyable to be involved in their environment and see their perspectives, rather than them being blanketed simply as “the bad guys”.
The most noticeable perspective is that of Lex Luthor as both issues so far have opened with him and we’re seeing the destruction from his perspective. Lex is a fascinating character who can be written as a cold business man or a megalomaniac, and everything in between, and he always comes across as in character. In this story, I feel like we’re seeing more of the former as Lex is defiantly a self-made man and he doesn't appreciate super-powered individuals who take by force. I thoroughly enjoyed the concept of a Lex Luthor/Bizarro team-up as some kind of post-apocalyptic world’s finest. And speaking of Luthor’s clone, it will be interesting to see if this is indeed the post-Flashpoint Bizarro or if it simply an homage to the character. We haven’t seen any backwards speech (or any dialogue for that matter) from the creature but regardless, I’m looking forward to seeing the pair in action.
As I mentioned before, the Crime Syndicate was further fleshed out in this issue, in particular, the relationship between Owlman and Superwoman and their hiding it from Ultraman. Surely this will lead to some team conflict which will stretch the relationship between them further, as Johnny Quick is already disobeying direct orders. As well as this, tensions seem high with the mention of a “thing” that came to Earth 3 and destroyed it, leading me to believe that perhaps the Crime Syndicate were not being entirely truthful when they said they destroyed their last Earth and came to this one. Or maybe they did, but at the very least they’re fearful of this event reoccurring.
I am also very interested in this “Hitchhiker” who apparently tried to sabotage their journey through the Pandora’s Box. If past stories based on the Crime Syndicate are anything to go by, I am placing my bets on the character being Earth 3’s Lex Luthor. And if it is, I can’t wait for the two to meet. The other thing that I am interested in is Power Ring’s ring seemingly infecting him. My theory is that, much like Ultraman gets power from Kryptonite and is hurt by the sun, Power Ring is hurt by green light, this is potentially backed up by the fact that Power Ring appears fearful of everything, even to the point of stuttering every other word.
The series continues to add mysteries and questions which I am desperate to see answered, how did Batman escape with Catwoman and Victor for example? What state are the Justice League really in? Despite the fact Batman survived, the situation really doesn't look good for the heroes of Earth and now with the Teen Titans out of the picture, I really am curious to see how this gets turned around. Perhaps the weakest part of the Crime Syndicate’s plan is the team itself? What with the inevitable falling out I feel we are being hinted at.
I guess I should also say something about Finch’s art. As I said in my last review I’m not a huge fan but I did find myself enjoying this issue more than the last. What I do appreciate about Finch is not only the detail he puts in, but also the fact that he draws proper comic pages with multiple panels; some of them with many panels which don’t make the story dense but are satisfyingly filling. I feel like Finch is a decent storyteller whose art flows nicely and not only am I happy that we’re not subjected to the usual 2 or 3 panel pages with multiple splash pages, but Finch rarely, if at all, duplicates his images. He really does put the work in and I get the feeling he really is passionate about his art which comes through in the end result.
I am very much looking forward to the continuation of this event. Whilst I know all major story points will return to their status quo by the end, I can’t help but feel that this event has some real weight to it. Fingers crossed.
Forever Evil #2:
Reviewed by Joe Jinks