forever evil #2

If the first Forever Evil issue set the series up by bringing in just about every supervillain in the DC Universe, this second issue basically works as a way to watch everything fall into a black hole of despair. Writer Geoff Johns has an unenviable task: though it seems like it would be a blast to create an entire offshoot of series dedicated to the evil within DC, it’s also tough to come up with motive for all of these characters. The first issue struggled to put together a reason why the Evil Injustice League (a name I’ve just decided to give the leading supervillains Ultraman, Super Woman, Atomica, Johnny Quick, and the like) have come to take over the world after they’ve destroyed their own, but Johns remedies that slightly within issue #2.

It turns out that the Injustice League was trumped at their own game back on another planet, by some gigantic creature that threatened their own powers. There’s just a little aside in issue two that this took place, and really Johns spends little time explaining it other than to plop down that threat, but at least it paints a picture as to why they left their home to come to the Universe the reader knows as reality.

Forever Evil #2 also sets up a less blurry idea of where the story is headed. Sure, there’s a lot of riff-raff going on in these pages where Johns spends a lot of time simply depicting battles between good and evil; those types of stories are inherent within this overarching plot, and it’s obvious that any issue will have some amount of story set aside to let artists David Finch and Richard Friend have some fun with action sequences. But for the most part, issue two is devoted to setting up objectives for the characters.

Ultraman and company are interested in ruling this new world, although Atomica and Johnny Quick are less enthused about taking orders. Some of the villains want vengeance on their superhero counterparts; that’s also a fair and realistic accounting of vile villainy. But Johns also involves Lex Luthor in a subplot all his own that separates him from the clear-cut roles of hero or villain – it’s ambiguous as to his siding in the affairs, and he’s got a strange science-born man (a backwards S on his costume) to get in the way of what’s happening in Forever Evil.

A surprise guest also shows up at the end of this issue to alert the reader there are more tricks up the series’ sleeve; this twist, paired with the deployment of the Teen Titans, seems to indicate a battle is afoot, one that involves more than just a bunch of villains ransacking towns with civilians without powers.

It’s not always an effective story, but Forever Evil #2 amends some of the things that bugged about the first issue. Now there is more of a plot to carry the series forward, which was sorely missing from the premiere issue. And the introduction of major superhero characters means there should be more drama when villains begin to want to take vengeance on those that have continually beaten them down. The dispersal of the Forever Evil series into various arcs among different comics will let the writers focus on individual villains and heroes as well, which is something that Johns doesn’t have time for in the framing story. The Forever Evil arc is an interesting idea that allows the villains to have the spotlight, but its success will really depend on how well the series can develop the individual characters rather than the overall mayhem.

Thanks to DC Comics for review copy.

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