So what have you been up to the ast three months? If you're penciller David Finch or inker Richard Friend, you were probably drawing liking a maniac, while avoiding daily, shouty phone calls from editors, as the seven-issue, "monthly" series Forever Evil finally shipped its final issue this Wednesday, a good three months after its sixth issue dropped. The delay has caused some trouble in DC's line, as it delayed the release of tie-in issues, and created some glitches in storytlines (Perhaps the most notable was that two issues of the series Justice League United, which picks up where Justice League of America ended, shipped before the final issue of JLoA).
DC Comics' event series pitting its bad guys again some even worse guys from another universe reaches its penultimate installment this week, as the home team of villains finally takes the fight to the evil invaders from Earth-3, the evil universe! Which of course means our super-close reading of this superhero epic also reaches its penultimate installments.
The latest issue of DC Comics' Forever Evil opens as the previous four did, with Lex Luthor sharing a little anecdote about his childhood that somehow relates to the current state of affairs. In this issue, it ends with Luthor telling readers that "48 hours ago, a group of beings called the Crime Syndicate came to our world and declared it theirs."
Forty-eight hours! That's only two days! But man, this story seems like it's been going on for months now. Like, at least five months.
So let's refresh our memories. The Crime Syndicate of Earth-3? Ascendant. The heroes of all three Justice Leagues? MIA. The Society? Running rampant. Dick "Nightwing" Grayson? Publicly outted and held captive by the Syndicate. Earth's only hope? Batman, Catwoman, Lex Luthor and a small band of disaffected villains, who were just about to get in a big fight at the end of Forever Evil #4. But then Power Ring appeared with a group of Society members crashed through one wall, and Sinestro crashed through the other.
And that can only mean one thing: A big fight. Wait, two things: There are only two walls left in the big, empty Wayne Enterprises room everyone is convening in. It is now a structurally unsound, and likely quite drafty, building.
In the pages of Forever Evil, the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3 -- the evil opposites of Earth-New 52's greatest heroes (plus an evil opposite of Alfred Pennyworth) -- have conquered the world!
The master villains have come up with a particularly brilliant plan to rid themselves of the DC Universe's heroes, trapping them all in sinister tie-in comics well beyond the pages of the main series. If you're wondering who's where, you can find most of the Justice Leaguers trapped in a weird prison in the pages of Justice League of America; Steve Trevor and his military team are in Forever Evil: ARGUS; the Teen Titans got sent into the future in the pages of Teen Titans; and all the magic guys are embroiled in their own 18-part tie-in crossover "Forever Evil: Blight", which is, amazingly, going to end up being much longer than Forever Evil itself will be. They don't call the Crime Syndicate villains for nothing.
It looks like the only forces left to challenge the Syndicate now are a handful of free-thinking bad-guys under the leadership of Lex Luthor, and Batman and his remaining Justice League allies, Catwoman and Cyborg. If they can put aside their differences and work together, they just might have a chance at saving the world from the clutches of the Crime Syndicate.
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.
Last month was a pretty rough one for the heroes of the DC Universe. The Justice Leagues—all three of 'em—apparently fell before the onslaught of the Earth-3's Crime Syndicate, somewhere between the end of Trinity War and the first issue of Forever Evil #1. The Syndicate then proceeded to take over the world, opening all of the super-prisons, assembling all the super-villains into an army, destroying all communications for some annoying "This World Is Ours" spam and a brief infotainment segment where they revealed Nightwing's secret identity as Richard Grayson on television. Also they pushed the moon between Earth and the sun, plunging the world into darkness.
To add insult to injury, the villains booted the heroes off all of their comic books in September, writing their own names over the heroes' logos and starring in the books themselves!
Well, it's a new month and there's a new issue of Forever Evil, so we can find out if there's any hope at all for our heroes. Or at the very least, which of those Villains Month issues we really needed to read.
Remember Trinity War? The six-part,154-page, 24-dollar DC Comics crossover story that ended with a cliffhanger where the super-villains from inside Pandora's Box rushing towards all three Justice Leagues with the words "To Be Continued in Forever Evil #1" at the bottom of the last page? Remember how you were frustrated that the climactic battle of the weeks-long story was being saved for the start of another story entirely, but you took some small comfort in knowing you only had to wait one week to finally see it in Forever Evil #1?
Well, funny story: It's not here either.