Wednesday, November 6, 2013

New Comics Wednesday: Forever Evil (DC)

The Cover of Forever Evil #1
Today is Wednesday, and that means it's New Comic Book Day - the day all of this week's comics hit the store shelves (both physically and digitally). Every comic I feature here on Daddy Rolled a 1 is one that I'l personally be picking up later this evening when I go to my local shop with my daughter after I pick her up from pre-school.

Please note also that every Wednesday, I tweet out which issues I picked up that week, and then over the course of the week I send out individual tweets with 140-character reviews of each issue. You can follow me on Twitter here.

Lastly, if you're really interested in more comic reviews, I do "professional" reviews for the comic book site, ComicAttack where I posted my reviews under the name "Martin." You can search my tag to see what I've reviewed lately.

As with all of my comic book overviews, I will attempt to explain what makes this comic interesting without giving away any spoilers. However, this review does assume that you have read (or don't care about) the DC event called "The Trinity War" which immediately preceded, and led directly into, the comic book I'm going to review below.

This week it was really tough for me to pick just one issue to talk about - I'm getting a lot of cool things today including East of West, God Is Dead (which is not what you think it is based on the title), Green Arrow, Batman/Superman, Batman: Black & White... but I chose for today an issue of a six-issue limited series event for DC, called "Forever Evil," that they've been building toward ever since they started the "New 52" back in September of 2011. That said, you can of course read this series without any prior knowledge of what's happened and you'll be able to follow it just fine. These days if you want or need extra info, you can always use the Google or the Wikipedia to find out more.


What's It About?
There's going to be a bit of background here, but hopefully it will help illustrate why I like this particular title in terms of the story.

When the New 52 debuted, there was a character seen lurking somewhere in the background of the first issue of each of the 52 comics that were released. Nobody knew who this character was, but over time it was revealed that her name was Pandora, and she formed one-third of what became referred to as the "Trinity of Sin" along with the Question and the Phantom Stranger. In DC's Free Comic Book Day issue for 2012, they revealed a bit about the origins of these three individuals, and we learned that Pandora was considered one of the original sinners for having taken, and opened, a box that unleashed evil on our world in the form of the Seven Sins. For this crime, she has been cursed to never die and to wander the earth trying to atone for her sin. Pandora has since taken up a mission of trying to figure out how to put the Seven Sins back into the box and seal it away forever, thus removing evil from the world. Her solo comic book title deals with this mission.

With this background, DC then built toward an event called the "Trinity War" which no one was quite sure how to take. "The Trinity" in DC usually refers to Batman - Superman - Wonder Woman, and many thought that somehow these three heroes would come into conflict with each other. However, DC had also established the "Trinity of Sin" as described above, and it seemed that they could also be the focus of the story. There was also another possibility - there are three Justice Leagues, each with different agendas. I've reviewed Justice League Dark before. There's also the "regular" Justice League, populated by the main heroes like Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Aquaman, and Green Lantern. But there's also a third team, which is a government sponsored group called Justice League of America, comprised of people like Hawkman, Martian Manhunter, Stargirl, Green Arrow, and others, led by government agent Steve Trevor (yeah - the guy who used to date Wonder Woman) and created specifically as a counter to the regular Justice League in case those heroes ever somehow get out of line.

However, one option that was never fully considered for the Trinity War was of that between various Earths. DC had established up until this point that there were two Earths - the "main" one and one called "Earth 2" which was a parallel Earth of other heroes with similar names (aka, "The Flash," "Green Lantern" etc.) as the main Earth, but with different costumes, different aliases, and slightly different powers. Of course it stood to reason that there could be more than just the two Earths...

The end of "Trinity War" showed that this was the case, when a group of super-powered individuals emerged from a gate created by Pandora's box and revealed themselves to be evil doppelgangers of the heroes of the main Earth, but from Earth 3 There are villains like Ultraman, Wonder Woman, Nite Owl, Johnny Quick, and others. They are known as the Crime Syndicate, and have been planning for years to somehow find a way to leave their Earth and come conquer ours.

Forever Evil is the story of what happens on our Earth once the Crime Syndicate gets here and destroys all three Justice Leagues, leaving the Earth without its main super-powered heroes to defend it, and how the remaining super-powered people (minor heroes and super-villains alike, along with non-powered heroes like Steve Trevor and Amanda Waller) have to pick sides and figure out what to do. Should they join with the Crime Syndicate and act as lackeys, taking orders from them and causing havoc and essentially destroying everything that makes our Earth the way it is, or should they band together under the leadership of, say, Lex Luthor, and try to fight back to reclaim our Earth from the yolk of the Crime Syndicate?

Who Are the Creative Team?
Geoff Johns is the writer of the main storyline, and he's doing a spectacular job with this. DC has had a few other events for the New 52, but they were relatively minor affairs usually contained to just a handful of titles ("Throne of Atlantis" for Aquaman and Justice League, or "Night of the Owls" and "Death of the Family" for the Batman titles, for example) but this is their first true event that affects the entire DC universe, and the multiple Earth angle really gives this an old "Silver Age" vibe that I'm really digging. Johns always does a great job writing engaging storylines that put everything on the line and really make you believe that things are really, really bad. He also is a master of characterization, especially when dealing with evil character. Forever Evil is right in his wheelhouse, with surprises around every corner, tips-of-the-hat to old-school comics from the 50s, 60s, and 70s, and great intrigue and in-fighting between the characters. It's really interesting to see Lex Luthor's reaction to everything and how and why he makes the decisions that he does regarding the Crime Syndicate.

Pencils are provided by David Finch, an artist who has previously been know for his work at Marvel, on a variety of titles including the Avengers (and later the New Avengers), Ultimate X-Men and Moon Knight, before coming to DC in 2010 where he's done work on Batman: The Dark Knight and the new Justice League of America. Finch is a detail-oriented artist, and he's a great match for the darkness of this story by Johns. His pencil work on this is among the strongest he's done for DC.

Who Will Like It?
This is a fun, but dark, event that should appeal to people who like to read about the motivations behind villains. In particular, the main storyline looks to be building toward a confrontation between groups of villains and what motivates them - the villains of Earth 3, the Crime Syndicate, fighting out of greed and hungry for power, versus the super-villains of the main Earth, who are either going along with the Crime Syndicate or perhaps preparing to counter-attack to save their Earth from destruction. I like these types of "shades of grey" where you can see a character in a different light from their normal portrayal and see how they have to change their philosophical outlook based on the circumstances.

Also, the references to the multiple Earths is a real treat for people who like the old-school Silver Age stories about parallel Earths and seeing different versions of their favorite characters. 

Lastly, there are a bunch of really cool tie-in stories that you don't have to read to follow the main story, but which are fun and engaging and add to the overall experience. One focuses on an "Arkham War" as Bane takes over and prepares to use the inmates of Arkham to destroy Gotham City, and also fight against the inmates of Blackgate Prison, another super high-security prison in the DC Universe. Then there's "Rogues Rebellion" which involves my favorite DC Villains - Flash's "Rogues Gallery" (Captain Cold, Weather Wizard, Mirror Master, and more) as they return to their home of Central City and have to figure out what to do now that the Crime Syndicate is asking for them to fall in line and destroy their home. The last one is "A.R.G.U.S." which stands for "Advanced Research Group United Superhumans" which is a government-sponsored group led by Amanda Waller and main field agent Steve Trevor. These are basically non-powered good-guys (kind of like Marvel's "S.H.I.E.L.D.").

Other individual titles are also tying into the main story, including Teen Titans, Suicide Squad, Constantine, and Pandora.

Any Good Ideas For My Role-Playing Game?
This series provides great idea fodder for running an "evil" game, even just as a one-shot or a short mini-campaign. Oftentimes, villains in comic books (and role-playing games) can be a bit one-dimensional, but the Forever Evil storyline showcases a unique look of villain against villain, and also what happens to the so-called "good" people who are left behind once the main heroes of the world are gone.

Is It Good for Kids? 
Not at all. This is a scary storyline that deals with disappearance of the various Justice League heroes (they are presumed dead at the beginning of this story, but I wouldn't call that a spoiler because this is DC and we know they're not going to permanently kill off Superman, for example), and also shows what the super-villains who are left on Earth do given free-reign. There are lots of killings, robberies, and other dark, twisted stuff that you wouldn't want your young ones exposed to. The comic carries a rating of "T" for Teen.

  • Format: Monthly 32-page full-color limited series (6 issues)
  • Where To Buy: As always, try to buy it at your local comic shop. You can find one by visiting the Comic Shop Locator. If you don't have one, try a bookstore, or you can buy the digital version to read on your PC, tablet, or smartphone by going to Comixology. That link takes you to the page to buy issue #3, which came out today, but you should start with issue #1 if you want to read the series. You'll find links on the page. 
  • Price: $3.99 per issue. 
  • Rated: Teen
  • More Information: The official DC Comics page for Forever Evil.

Hanging: Home office (laptop)
Drinking: Black coffee
Listening: "Freeway" by Chet Baker

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