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 #1The 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.

Forever Evil #2 cover DC Comics



Forever Evil #2
Written by Geoff Johns
Penciled by David Finch
Inked by Richard Friend
Colored by Sonia Oback

The second issue of the big crossover series opens with the death of a rat in Lex Luthor's basement: It approaches a blob of cheese on a large mousetrap, only to have its neck snapped. Don't feel too bad, though; I've read enough of these DC comics to know that anyone who dies will be pretty quickly resurrected. In fact, by the time this series ends, DC might have already announced a new series featuring that rat, wearing a new costume with a Nehru collar.

Anyway, Luthor is thinking about rats and traps while walking through the basement with his flashlight, and narrates that "No one's ever invented a better rattrap because there's no need to," which is difficult to believe, and not just because Luthor says "rattrap" instead of "mousetrap" (surely a super-smart guy like him knows the expression about building a better mousetrap). No mini-death rays? No tiny Boom Tubes to teleport rats into the heart of the sun? No attempts to weaponize dead rats into Kryptonite-powered anti-Superman cyborgs? Come on, Luthor, you're giving mad science a bad name here.


Forever Evil #2 Otis


There are two more characters in the sub-level 13 of Lexcorp Headquarters. One is Otis, a dim, chatty security guard that shares the same name as Luthor's dim, chatty henchman played by Ned Beatty in the Christopher Reeve Superman movies. The other is "Subject B-0," pronounced "B-Zero," a Superman clone that Luthor's been cooking for a few years now, but won't be perfect for another five years (You'd know more about Luthor's attempts to make a Superman clone and determine how long it takes to get one just right if you read Superman #23.1, "The Bizarro #1" Villains Month issue).


Forever Evil 2 B-zero


Do note that if you say "B-Zero" out loud, it sounds an awful lot like "Bizarro," which is apparently how this imperfect clone of Superman gets his name in the New 52 continuity. Interestingly, the New 52 version of Metallo got his name from a verbal corruption of his science lab designation, "Metal 0." I look forward to the inevitable reintroduction of Superman's old giant ape foe Titano, a chimpanzee pumped full of the super-drug Titan and designated "Subject Titan 0."

From underground Metropolis we jump to San Francisco and a group of characters I've been trying very hard not to think about since the New 52 began: the Teen Titans. There's Robin, Superboy, Kid Flash, an unnamed buxom naked lady covered in some black substance with glowing eyes and who seems to be emitting steam, Wonder Girl, and a woman who stands 25 to 50 feet away from the "camera" of the panel and is apparently Raven because they refer to her as "Raven."


Forever Evil 2 Teen Titans


"Everyone get suited up," Robin tells his comrades, all of whom seem to be already pretty suited-up (unless they're going to add more belts, pouches, armor plates and extraneous lines and glowing parts to their costumes). Robin proposes they launch an assault on the Crime Syndicate in an attempt to save the hostage Nightwing, since "If the world knows that Richard Grayson is Nightwing...It's only a matter of time until someone figures out the rest of us."


Forever Evil 2 Crime Syndicate meeting



Speaking of the Crime Syndicate, what are they up to, exactly? Well, they're holed up in the former Justice League Watchtower satellite, which has crash-landed in Happy Harbor, Rhode Island (On Earth-3, it's probably Unhappy Harbor). There's some disagreement about what to do with Earth now that they pretty much run the joint, with Owlman wanting to maintain infrastructure and Johnny Quick (Earth-3 Flash) wanting to run around breaking things. This leads to a line of dialogue I never expected to read in a comic book, addressed to Ultraman (Earth-3 Superman):

"So unclench that indestructible anus and get that coal-turned-diamond out of your ass!"

Here Geoff Johns introduces various sub-plots involving the Syndicaters:

Something's up with Power Ring (Earth-3 Green Lantern) -- his ring seems to be killing him, but after a quick examination the skull-faced Deathstorm (Earth-3 Firestorm) doesn't seem overly concerned. I know there's a lot of controversy about healthcare in US politics these days, but I think one thing everyone can agree on: never take medical advice from someone with  the "Deathstorm."

Owlman (Earth-3 Batman), Ultraman, Superwoman (Earth-3 Wonder Woman) and Evil Alfred all voice opinions on how to deal with their two hostages, Nightwing, whom Owlman insists on keeping alive over the objections of Ultraman and Evil Alfred; and the mysterious hooded figure the Syndicate brought with them from Earth 3, who Ultraman insists keeping alive over the strong objections of the others.


Forever Evil 2 crime syndicate


Grid, who consists of the robot parts of Cyborg gone bad and is now functioning as the Crime Syndicate's secretary, reports that there's a situation in Khandaq requiring Ultraman's attention (What situation? Didn't you read Justice League of America #7.4/"Black Adam #1"...? Black Adam got really mad when he saw an iPad that said "This World Is Ours" and shot it with chest-lightning, shouting "This world belongs to no one!"). Grid also reports that the Rogues aren't down with the "raze their hometown plan," and will soon have to face Deathstorm and Power Ring (See Flash #23.3/"Rogues #1" to see what that's all about, not to mention the forthcoming Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion #1).

Then comes the moment that, were there no talk of Ultrman's indestructible anus, would undoubtedly be the most important dialogue in the issue. Once left alone, Superwoman grabs Owlman's hand and places it on her stomach, saying "I want this world, Thomas. For our child."


Forever Evil 2 Superman Owlman baby



This issue reaches its climax, with three big moments:

First, it's the Teen Titans vs. the Crime Syndicate! Robin, the kid who got the gig of being Batman's partner by virtue of being so smart he figured out his one-time mentor's secret identity, has come up with a brilliant strategy for rescuing a captive from base full of evil versions of the most powerful superheroes in the world: punching them!

Enjoy this image of Robin jumping directly into Superboy's heat-vision:


Forever Evil 2 Teen Titans



They scuffle for a page or so before Johnny grabs Kid Flash by the throat and vibrates him until the poor boy stretches out and rolls up like a window shade, opening a tornado that sucks the Titans into a tie-in story arc in their own comic book.


Forever Evil B-Zero backwards costume


Meanwhile, Lex Luthor awakens "B-Zero" and commands him to kill poor Otis, which he refuses to do until Otis actually turns a gun on his bald boss. It remains to be seen how "backwards" B-Zero actually is; I was kinda hoping he wouldn't kill Otis until Luthor said something like "Okay, fine, don't kill him." When Luthor hands Bizarro a Superman costume, he puts it on inside out, thus providing a plausible explanation for his iconic backwards "S" shield.


Forever Evil 2 Batman and Catwoman and Cyborg


But wait! Over at S.T.A.R. Labs, a bruised and broken Batman and Catwoman arrive to hand Dr. Silas Stone the even more beat-up-looking torso of his son Victor -- aka Cyborg -- who's still alive.

So that's two of the twenty or so missing heroes on the three Justice Leagues that have been accounted for. "Where are the rest of the Justice League?" Batman only replies, "They.. .didn't make it."

That doesn't sound very promising, but there are still five issues to go. Plenty of time to reveal the heroes' fates and comfort readers with the knowledge that their favorite may yet be alive and kicking... kicking Crime Syndicate ass! Even if some of that ass is clenched and indestructible.

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