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.




Forever Evil #4
Written by Geoff Johns
Penciled by David Finch
Inked by Richard Friend
Colored by Sonia Oback
Edited by Brian Cunningham and Kate Durré

Batman and Catwoman, last seen delivering what little remained of Cyborg after his robot parts revolted to the top secret Detroit lab his dad works in, are walking through a series of background-less panels. Batman's still wearing his battle-damaged cowl, which reveals about three-quarters of his face, while Catwoman is now wearing a blindfold.

Why the blindfold? Because "there are secrets about me you're safer not knowing," Batman tells Selina when, after hours of walking, they arrive at the Batcave. So I guess whichever of the fifty states Gotham City is in, it's one within walking distance of Detroit. That ought to narrow it down a bit.




It's kind of cute how Batman continues to try and keep his secret identity secret from Catwoman, despite the fact that his mask is now barely-there and Bruce Wayne's one-time ward and current close friend and business partner Dick Grayson has just been revealed to the world -- Catwoman included -- as the secret identity of Gotham-based superhero and Batman ally Nightwing.

Batman even provides a further clue to Catwoman while she tries to get him to talk to her about his feelings instead of their plan of attack against the Syndicate: "I trained Richard Grayson to become Robin, Selina," Batman tells her, "And after I drove him away, he became Nightwing."

Catwoman may be a master thief, an accomplished martial artist, and great with a bullwhip, but she must be terrible at that Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game.




Batman leads her to the special closet where he keeps six metal brief cases, each labeled with the symbol of one of his Justice League co-workers, and each containing a secret weapon needed to take them out should he ever need to do so. He picks up a handful of weapons that might come in handy against his co-workers' extra-dimensional doppelgängers, and then asks aloud, "If we can't stop the Syndicate...WHO WILL?"

Funny he should ask.




On the very next page we find Lex Luthor straddling the unconscious Black Adam, shooting him with some kind of hand-lightning generated by his power-suit that makes a KRAKAAAKOOMM sound. He's apparently trying to revive him, I guess, although it's not entirely clear what happened to Black Adam during last issue's fight with evil Superman Ultraman (other than the fact that Adam had his jaw broken and lost).

Luhtor re-introduces readers to his Legion of Doom: Black Adam, Black Manta, Captain Cold and the imperfect Superman clone designated "Subject: B-Zero," who here finally starts saying something other than "RR!" and officially dubs himself "Bizarro." Five bros does hardly a legion make, but the brave Entourage of Doom sets off to acquire the one last thing they'll need before taking on the Syndicate.

Elsewhere, Ultraman is busy tearing out Metallo's Kryptonite heart, atomizing it and huffing it (remember, Ultraman gets his power from snorting Kryptonite up his nose), when Superwoman appears to tell him that A) She's pregnant, B) The child is Ultraman's and C) Owlman is plotting with the captured Nightwing to betray Ultraman and the Syndicate.





As for A and B, Superwoman previously told Owlman that her baby was his and encouraged him to get ready to take down Ultraman, so, suffice it to say, she's kind of a terrible person.

And as for C, there's only a one-panel flashback here regarding Owlman's conversation with Nightwing, but if you read Justice League #25 you can get the whole story of Owlman and Earth-3 Grayson's origins (plus what sure looks to be the origin of New 52 Plastic Man, despite his cameo in Justice League International #1 two years ago) and the nature of Owlman's offer to Nightwing. According to Owlman, the world is either going to be taken over by Ultraman and the Syndicate or by Owlman, and obviously Owlman is on Team Owlman in that particular conflict. He asks for Grayson's help in taking down the rest of the Syndicate, to which Grayson agrees.

The rest of the issue is devoted to those Johnsian splash pages where characters make dramatic arrivals. Luthor's team breaks into a Wayne Enterprises lab to find Batman and Catwoman standing there.




Before they can get to fighting and team-ing up, however, the evil Green Lantern of Earth-3, Power Ring, shows up with a posse of the Syndicate's villain army! Then Batman puts on the Sinestro Corps ring we saw earlier and takes on Power Ring, but it doesn't have enough charge and the villain snatches it it away!

"A yellow ring? You can't hurt me with this," Power Ring says snidely, thus setting up the final splash page entrance of the book, as Sinestro appears on the scene.




So if Sinestro, Catwoman and Batman join Luthor's team, that gives them eight guys, and Luthor is now just one recruit shy of being able to field a Baseball Team of Doom.

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