(DC Comics, 2014)
Written by Geoff Johns
Pencils by David Finch
Inks by Richard Friend
Color Artwork by Sonia Oback
The delay between issues 6 and 7 took a lot of power out of the punch that was ultimately delivered by this concluding chapter of Forever Evil, particularly where the fate of Dick Grayson is concerned. However, that being said there is still a lot to be excited about in the final act of this epic tale. Sure many of the tie-in issues under the Forever Evil banner came out before issue 7, essentially letting the proverbial cat (or bird in this case, Robin) out of the bag but there are so many plot threads to be addressed that Nightwing’s unmasking is almost a half forgotten afterthought at this point. Geoff Johns’ packs such a voluminous amount of information into this issue that is no surprise when several plot threads are left unresolved. Let’s face it Forever Evil is an ambitious project, perhaps one of the most involved and complex narratives since Blackest Night and once again Johns does an extremely meticulous job of addressing the details that form the basis of the plot but, in the case of Dick Grayson Johns seems to have built up to an anti-climactic end in favor of more deeply exploring Lex Luthor’s ultimate role.
From the beginning it was obvious that Luthor was going to play a major role in Forever but in a story with such an immensely large cast and sweeping scope sometimes it takes a bit of exposition to focus more accurately on just who the main character is going to be, in this case there is no doubt that Luthor became the focal point of the narrative. It became the story of his transformation from evil to almost good. We are still left with a Luthor who has his own best interest at heart although now there seems to be more grey areas in his world of formerly stark black and white. Johns does an amazing job of pulling Luthor more clearly into focus; as a character he has never seemed more human. Through his actions and especially through his narration we come to see him in a light we have not viewed him in before and what emerges is a Lex Luthor that is more complex and engrossing than ever. In fact I could easily envision a Luthor on-going monthly series spinning out of this whole thing.
As monumentally game changing as the unmasking of Nightwing is, there is a revelation in this issue that dwarfs its implications by comparison to an unfathomable degree. Luthor’s vast intellect and razor sharp deductive ability serves him well in uncovering another major player’s secret identity. The possible long reaching effects of this discovery are mind boggling and could forever change the landscape of the DCU. Overall Johns handles the multitude of villains in Forever Evil with expert precision and attention to character, motivation and personality. His change of perspective regarding Captain Cold and several other villains who seem to have epiphanies of varying degrees by narratives’ end feels genuine and well planned, Johns does an admirable job of leaving no stone unturned in this regard. The Crime Syndicate’s fate is explored in particular detail; the various members and their resulting consequences are some of the most enthralling aspects of this issue and in fact Forever Evil in its entirety.
Of the many nods to the future of the DCU one that stands out to me as being extremely exciting is the meeting between Luthor and young Ted Kord. Kord aka Blue Beetle is set to play a major role in “Pax Americana”, a story in Grant Morrison’s groundbreaking Multiversity epic due out later this summer. His appearance here makes it apparent that Blue Beetle will be turning up sooner than later in the pages of Justice League; could a Booster Gold/ Blue Beetle reunion be far behind? I think not.
Artistically David Finch does some of the best work of his stellar career in this issue, as well as in the series as a whole. His dynamic approach to storytelling and exciting page composition adds a degree of intensity to Johns’ already powerful narrative. The images explode from the page with a kind of kinetic energy that Finch seems to effortlessly command. His shadowy figures convey a spectrum of emotion ranging from intense brooding to the explosively violent. There is an energy just beneath the surface of Finch’s work that threatens to break through at times giving the action an enhanced sense of urgency. Richard Friend inks Finch perfectly, never muddying the subtle aspects of his pencils or losing the detail in a mass of black shadow. Friend’s inks are nuanced and light enough to let Finch’s genius come through. Sonia Oback’s colors are perfectly suited to bring Finch’s imagery to life; not overly vivid but suitably vibrant to capture the tonal quality of the images and narrative.
Forever Evil while not perfect does succeed in telling an entertaining and engrossing tale with implications that could echo through the DCU for the foreseeable future. Certainly Johns could have more thoroughly summed up the events of Forever Evil but what he has done is thought provoking and intriguing enough to make it one of my favorite events in recent times and I recommend diving into with both feet if you haven’t already. The story and art are both first rate, full of the kind of dark subject matter and sensibilities that have come to define the best of the DCU. (4/5)
Shawn is an aspiring writer/ artist who has been reading, collecting and living comic books for over 30 years. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, their son, lots of cats, dogs and other various finned and furry friends.