When we last visited the DC Universe in the wake of Forever Evil, it was a dark, grim and gritty place -- well, darker, grimmer and grittier than usual, anyway. Most of the members of the Justice League of America, Justice League Dark and Justice League Vanilla mysteriously disappeared after encountering the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3, the evil doppelgangers of Earth-New 52's greatest heroes.

Rallying an army of supervillains behind them, the Syndicate announced the death of the Justice Leagues, outted Nightwing as Dick Grayson, moved the moon to eclipse the sun, and exiled the Teen Titans into the time stream. With the world pretty much conquered, the Syndicate went about the business of ruling it -- you know, establishing a currency and economic system, redrawing maps, writing up a constitution, designing a flag, developing a body of laws, intervening in disputes between countries and the meetings! Oh, the many meetings they'll have to have!

Is that what we're in for with the remaining issues of the seven-part series? Perhaps we would be, were it not for a handful of villains unwilling to sign up with the Crime Syndicate. Villains with home-world pride. Bad guys who are bad, to be sure, but not that bad. They're just almost always evil, not forever evil, and this issue, they start to get organized.

 

 

Forever Evil #3
Written by Geoff Johns
Penciled by David Finch
Inked by Richard Friend
Colored by Sonia Oback

We open in a top secret STAR Labs facility in Detroit -- no one would think to look for unbelievably expensive, cutting edge high-tech development facilities there! -- where a badly battered Batman and Catwoman have just delivered what little is left of Cyborg (a head and a handful of chewing gum, if I'm reading Finch's art right) to his super-scientist father Silas Stone and Dr. T.O. Morrow.

 

 

They also deliver a brief recap of what went down between the CSA and The Leagues, adding some new information, like the fact that the evil Firestorm named Deathstorm (seriously, that's his name), sucked most of the Leaguers into Firestorm's "matrix, that binds the two men who form him," the result being that everyone there was "pulled towards Firestorm." (As for where they ended up, readers of Justice League of America #8 will know most of them are in an elaborate prison on the ruined Earth-3. John Constantine and Steve Trevor managed to escape, but you'll have to read Justice League Dark #24 and Forever Evil: ARGUS #1 to find out exactly how. Or I guess I could just tell you: Magic).

While the scientists hover over Cyborg, trying to figure out if they can rebuild him -- if they have the technology -- Batman catches a repeat of the TV reveal that Nightwing is really Dick Grayson, and that he's now a captive of the Crime Syndicate or maybe even dead. Seeing Batman's determination to save "this Grayson person," Catwoman asks, "Who is he?"

Apparently the life-long Gothamite and master thief hasn't yet calculated that if the famous circus performer orphaned as a child and adopted by billionaire Bruce Wayne, one of the city's most prominent citizens, is really Batman's partner Nightwing, then that means Batman must really be Bruce Wayne (not to mention the fact that Batman lost about half of his mask in the battle with the Syndicate).

Or maybe Selina's only playing dumb, so as not to embarrass Batman. The two ingenious super-scientists in the room also politely don't say anything about the fact that they totally know who Batman really is now.

 

 

Meanwhile, in Metropolis, Lex Luthor is having some trouble with his last remaining employee, who he calls "Creature" but we'll call Bizarro. Bizarro refuses to follow Luthor's orders to position a giant satellite dish just so until Luthor graciously accepts a flower he tries handing him for several panels, punctuating each gesture with an "RR!" (I'm not sure if we're meant to hear Boris Karloff's Frankenstein's monster "RR!" in our heads when we read Bizarro's dialogue or not, but I sure do).

 

 

Luthor wants to use the satellite dish in order to track Ultraman, who is currently fighting Black Adam. Their epic nine-panel battle consists of a couple of punches before Adam says "Shazam," and summons the magic lightning from the sky to strike Ultraman. I think that move has been a feature of every single Superman/Captain Marvel fight since at least Kingdom Come, so naturally it's used in an Ultraman/Black Adam fight. I've never understood why it hurts Superman (or Ultraman) -- shouldn't it turn them into Marvels? Or wouldn't the lightning maneuver around them to hit Cap or Adam and turn them back into their powerless, human forms? I'm afraid there's just a whole lot of things about magic lightning I just don't understand.

Anyway, Ultraman breaks Adam's jaw with a KRNCHH and then drops the unconscious villain into the sea before flying off to find some more kryptonite to power up with.

 

 

If you read Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion #1, you already know that the Flash villains collectively known as the Rogues aren't down with the Syndicate's raze-their-own-hometown program, and are facing off against Deathstorm and evil Green Lantern Power Ring. The battle is brief, and during it Deathstorm strips Captain Cold of his powers and trap the other Rogues inside of the Mirror World that Mirror Master uses to get from place to place.

 

Luckily for Captain Cold, he ends up in Metropolis, arriving right about the time that Black Manta drags the unconscious Black Adam out of the sea. Also there are Luthor and Bizarro, and after exchanging a few words, the baddies realize they've all got the same enemies, and, in complete contradiction of the cover -- which shows all these characters fighting each other -- they strike a pose with Luthor saying, "Hope won't save the world. But maybe together... we can."

 

 

That's right, the Justice League(s) might not have been able to stop the Crime Syndicate, but perhaps Luthor's Injustice League can! Or will he call his team the Legion of Doom instead? I suppose it will depend on where they make their headquarters, and if it's deep within a bleak and dismal swamp or not....