Guesses have been running rampant since the Crime Syndicate first dragged the hooded figure through with them, but Geoff Johns and David Finch’s “Forever Evil” #6 finally reveals the identity of the man under the hood. The cover also promises Nightwing’s last stand, but the jury is out on that, at least until “Forever Evil” #7.
The greatest downfall of “Forever Evil” #6 is easily faulty storytelling. While Finch is decent at the “Gosh! Wow!” splash pages and big moments, some critical moments in this issue are bobbled by poor camera angle choices, heavier than necessary shadowing or simply inconsistent details. Here’s an example, but it is loaded with a mild spoiler: halfway through the issue, Lex Luthor, in his power suit makes a move to remove Dick Grayson from a predicament. In getting to Nightwing, Luthor clearly has gauntlets on, but when he reaches out, the gauntlet is missing. Finch chooses to deliver this scene over Luthor’s shoulder, which obscures much of the detail and leaves readers staring at Nightwing, whose expression changes from agonized concern to concerned agony. Captain Cold’s scene with Johnny Quick could have been stronger from a different angle and the final image of the issue is so murky with unnecessary shadow that it frankly becomes mundane instead of impressive.
The story itself finally moves, but it doesn’t quite go far enough or fast enough to justify four months of iceberg-paced build-up. The identity of the hooded man has largely been guessed since his first appearance, although Johns does put a nice twist on the character and his modus operandi. The writer squeezes in some defining character moments for Luthor’s Injustice League, showcasing how brutal Black Manta can be and how clever Captain Cold is. For every positive step Johns makes, however, he bobbles other areas. Luthor and Batman’s exchange puts Luthor in an unproven dominant role, removing Batman from being the smartest man in the room. It works for the story, but it just seems forced and simply wrong the whole way through. Maybe this is the first step in humanizing Batman, but it really feels like the dumbing down of Batman.
It’s been dragging out for quite some time, but so far, there’s a villainous crew taking over the Earth, an eclipse and the Justice League are missing. Most of that was established at the end of the “Trinity War” story, but six issues into “Forever Evil,” there isn’t much more depth on the tale. Some of Earth’s villains don’t fall in with the Crime Syndicate’s marching orders, but quite honestly, this issue could have been “Forever Evil” #2, 3 or even 4 and a lot of foot dragging could have been eliminated. With one issue left, Johns and company seem perched to either hurry up through what could have been an epic and entertaining battle or fail to seal the deal despite the fact that the event should “conclude” with the next issue. As penultimate tales go, “Forever Evil” #6 has action and excitement, leading up to a big-time brawl, but it doesn’t ever feel like it has turned the corner to deliver on any of the promises made. This series has been a bit of a disappointment and this issue is no exception. Sure, there are a couple energizing moments, but for four bucks, six-sevenths into a story, I’d expect more impact.