When superstar artist David Finch moved to DC Comics from Marvel on an exclusive contract in 2010, the Canadian told CBR News that the main reason he was changing publishers was the opportunity to write and draw Batman in “The Dark Knight.”
Finch never dreamed he would get a chance to draw the Crime Syndicate too. The Joe Shuster Award-winning artist has loved the supervillain team ever since Ultraman, Owlman, Superwoman, Power Ring and Johnny Quick were reimagined by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely for the 2000 graphic novel, “JLA: Earth 2.” Not unlike the plotline in the story, Finch’s worlds have now collided and he finds himself drawing Batman, the Crime Syndicate, as well as the biggest bads in the New 52 in the pages of the blockbuster event series “Forever Evil,” written by Geoff Johns.
Set smack dab in ongoing New 52 continuity, the seven-issue miniseries features the Crime Syndicate being forced from their own world by an unknown evil, only to come to Earth Prime in search of a new home. After dismantling and/or destroying members of the Justice League, Justice League of America and Justice League Dark, Batman and Catwoman must team with Lex Luthor, Sinestro, Black Manta, Captain Cold, Bizarro and Black Adam to save the world.
With the evil that chased the Crime Syndicate from their world arriving on Earth in the closing panels of “Forever Evil” #5, CBR News connected with Finch to see how he was digging the villainous world he has created with Johns and whether or not he felt the Dark Knight would provide a glimmer of hope when surrounded by a legion of doom more powerful and dangerous than the A-list rogues gallery he traditionally faces in Gotham City.
CBR News: I think we are close to the same age. When you were a kid growing up in southwestern Ontario were you rooting for the Justice League or the Legion of Doom on “Super Friends?”
David Finch: Legion of Doom. Absolutely. [Laughs] And I know that I’m working on “Forever Evil” so that sounds like a canned response but that’s absolutely the truth. I love their headquarters that comes out of the swamp. That’s cool stuff — a lot cooler than the Wonder Twins.
When we talked right after it was announced you were moving to DC Comics to write and draw “The Dark Knight,” you said the opportunity to work on Batman was a big part of your decision. I see that you haven’t let Batman go completely, as he is playing a major role in “Forever Evil.” Why was keeping him on the board important for the story you are telling with Geoff Johns?
Batman as a character is a survivor. It just makes sense that if all of the heroes are gone, he would survive. There are some that think that Batman kind of straddles the line a little bit but I don’t think so. He has a very strong moral code — stronger than most characters — so I don’t think it’s true. He is a character that is really hard to keep down. It makes perfect sense that “Forever Evil” has a million villains and Batman.
And he makes a really great foil, too. All of these characters don’t have much of a moral compass at all and then you have Batman, who is obviously working on a completely different level. He keeps everyone in check.
It sounds like when Geoff initially shared this story with you and told you that you would be drawing Black Manta, Bizarro and Sinestro you were pretty jazzed because, as an artist, you don’t often get to spend a whole lot of time with the villains in a superhero comic, even the big guns like Lex Luthor.
It’s true. I love drawing villains. I always have. Out of a six-issue story, I might draw one villain and they most often only take up a relatively small amount of space on the page because it’s all about the hero. To get a chance to really tour the whole DC Universe and draw all of the biggest, baddest villains, it’s pretty great.
Now that I have been drawing them all for a few issues, I am really getting to know a lot of them. Obviously, some more than others but the big names are really coming alive for me.
Whether it’s a villain or a hero, Geoff writes such great characters. When this is done, I’m going to miss these guys like crazy.
Is there one villain that you have really tapped into? I am loving your Bizarro.
Thanks. I love Bizarro. And I love the script. Bizarro is so Geoff. I really can’t take any credit for that character. I love the fact that his name is Subject B-Zero. I can’t believe nobody has ever done that before. It’s so perfect and yes, Bizarro is a very cool character. But for me, the character that I really liked drawing the most was Power Ring from the Crime Syndicate. He was a lot of fun and such a totally different character. He’s the kind of character that would just run away from a fight and you don’t get to draw that every day.
I hope this isn’t taken the wrong way but his look reminded me of a melting candle.
Thank you. That’s actually very nice.
You’re welcome. Glad you mentioned the Crime Syndicate, who are obviously major players in “Forever Evil” too. Were you very familiar with the Justice League’s opposites from a parallel universe before this project?
I am a huge Frank Quitely fan and a huge Grant Morrison fan too, so I have read and looked at “JLA: Earth 2” a million times. I was very familiar with the characters. I was a little surprised. I would have never thought that I would get a chance to draw those guys. It was really great.
I was asked to do some designs for the costumes. I sat down with Geoff and we did a screen share so we designed those costumes together, which was great. I really wanted to harken back to the original designs and respect Frank Quitely’s designs because I thought they were great but obviously also do something a little different and new.
It’s always a difficult balance to be as respectful as you can to what came before because that’s important to me and still do something different.
Readers have responded to “Forever Evil” and DC Comics is giving those same readers what they want: a solo book starring Sinestro and Lex Luthor headlining “Justice League.” First, can you talk about Lex Luthor and what makes him a character that can headline “Forever Evil” and also assume leadership of the Justice League?
Again, Geoff Johns’ scripts are a big, big reason. Being a bald guy, I have a soft spot for Lex Luthor too. [Laughs] He’s a very human character. He’s a CEO. I think he is no different than a really good CEO of a corporation. They are all sociopaths. [Laughs] Lex Luthor is not purely evil but he is somebody that is determined to win and do whatever it takes to win. He is completely and utterly pragmatic and there is really no boundary to what he will do to a pragmatic end. That’s really interesting to explore as a writer or an artist.
Should readers be surprised that it’s up to a Lex Luthor-led team of good guys and bad guys to save the DCU?
He is the ultimate human. He is the smartest guy around and the most driven guy and the guy that is naturally supposed to be in charge. And then all of sudden, along come all of the superheroes and push him to the side. But now with Superman, Wonder Woman and the rest of the Justice League — except for Batman — out of the picture, this is his chance to assume what he sees as his natural role.
And while it Lex’s time to shine, in the closing pages of “Forever Evil” #5, he attempts to recruit Sinestro by feeding his ego and saying it is the Yellow Lantern that must shine brightest. Can you talk about Sinestro’s recent introduction and his role in the series moving forward?
The biggest difference between Luthor and Sinestro is that while Sinestro is incredibly smart and incredibly powerful, he’s also incredibly arrogant. You can really see Luthor use that against him in “Forever Evil” #5. Every character has their kryptonite and for Sinestro, it’s his arrogance. I love him and he’s a lot of fun to draw.
I also love the disdain that he has for Green Lantern and Power Ring and I really tried to get that across on his face. I don’t think facial expressions are my strongest attribute but I was happy with what I was able to do with Sinestro in those scenes.
And what else I love about him is that he is just a regular guy. He has the outfit and has the ring but at his core, he is not as strong as the other characters but he is just mentally so strong. He doesn’t have the mental weaknesses that some of the other characters have.
Another great set of panels in the closing pages of “Forever Evil” #5 is when Catwoman is whispering in Batman’s ear, reminding him that in this company, he’s not in charge. Have you enjoyed drawing Selina Kyle because readers have certainly responded positively to your work with her?
She has been a real interesting character in this series. It’s an interpretation of Catwoman that I am not used to. And I love it. The villains are her natural friends and she’s watching out for Batman. It’s like when you go to a party with a friend and he or she doesn’t really fit in with the crowd that you are with and you stand there and cringe and wait for them to do something embarrassing. That’s what Catwoman is like with Batman when they are around these guys. “You can’t treat these guys this way. It’s not going to work. What are you thinking, man?” [Laughs] And there is Batman just steamrolling. He doesn’t care. It is a lot of fun.
In the final two-page spread, we see a massive crack in the sky and the Crime Syndicate knows the creature that destroyed their world has found them. Can you give us a tease of whom or what that creature is? Or at least what’s to come in “Forever Evil” #6 and #7?
Not sure what I can say without giving it all away. [Laughs] Here is what I can say, which is a very non-specific answer and I apologize for that.
I understand. It’s Mxyztplk, right?
Exactly. [Laughs] Honestly, there is still a lot more to come and a lot of pieces to put together. The beginning and ending of “Forever Evil” #6 is two completely different places and covers a lot of ground. And there truly is a lot of irrevocable change. I remember reading that script for the first time and going, “Wow!”
And “Forever Evil” #7 is an extra-long issue. And by the time it’s done, I think readers will be very happy and satisfied that they have a very thoroughly conceived and executed ending.
What’s next for you after “Forever Evil?”
I have a project lined up but I can’t talk about it yet. I am very excited. It should be a lot fun. And I should get a lot of flak about it on the Internet. It’s not a good project unless you get hate on the Internet. [Laughs] And I am sure that it’s coming.
“Forever Evil” #6 by Geoff Johns and David Finch is on sale March 5.