Geoff Johns is Mr. Big Event at DC Comics in the post-Crisis era. His pre-New 52 event, “Blackest Night” saw the dead rise and Lanterns across the entire color spectrum take center stage. It was riveting and a great use of the entire DC Universe, utilizing characters both alive and long dead. The event served as a brilliant history lesson of the previous 20 years of the company while maintaining excitement and tension throughout. Then came the follow-up, “Brightest Day”, which tried to make sense of “Blackest Night”. The best thing to come out of that was the triumphant rebirth of Swamp Thing. Finally, the Flash hit the reset button on the DCU in “Flashpoint”, resulting in the new paradigm of the New 52.
A couple of years in and the first DCU-wide event has arrived with “Forever Evil”, where an evil doppelganger version of the Justice League infiltrates the world from a parallel universe, using Cyborg as the gateway. They handily defeats both the League and the JLA. Using Nightwing as a hood ornament, the Crime Syndicate unites the Earth's rogues galleries and makes them their foot soldiers. Not all of them are on board, however. Saying “Forever Evil” might sound appealing to most villains except not all of their motivations are the same. Some bad people don't take kindly to any World Order, even one that might share philosophies. Some men refuse to be ruled by anyone and will strive to destroy anyone that dares to usurp their control.
Aside from the story, which is great, some aspects are just excellent. First, Batman is a major character. Bruce Wayne hasn't been part of a big event since "Final Crisis", when he “died”. As, perhaps, the most pragmatic member of the Justice League, he understands the need to cooperate with those he is morally opposed, even if he hates every second. Without Catwoman to talk him down, ol' Bruce would probably get himself killed in this situation. He and Lex Luthor are the de facto leaders of this insurrection. These two could be better nemeses than with the Joker or Superman, respectively. They are both wealthy geniuses with foolishly omnipotent self-images. They have different world views but go about getting things done using their minds to defeat a greater physical threat.
Through Captain Cold, Johns further mines the honor code of the Rogues. He also lacks the megalomania or murderous rage that many of the other DC villains possess, which deeply humanizes him. Some villains brought back in the reboot seem to have only existed so that they could perish in this story. Knowing that, their deaths are even more hilarious. This is the only part that leaves an odd taste, though. The villains are killing off other villains right in front of Batman but he doesn't even raise his voice. Is this a case of him knowing the futility of speaking up amidst all these ids run amok?
The dialogue is deliciously devilish which is Johns's specialty. David Finch continues his stellar work as DC's #1A artist, second maybe only to Jim Lee. His action staging is flawless and the copious amounts of lighting are beautiful. This volume containing just the main story is just a joy to digest. It isn't just your typical good guys versus bad guys as uneasy alliances are made and sparks fly between characters that normally don't get to spend much time together. That being said, some are about to get better acquainted real soon.