EDITOR'S NOTE: This review was initially loaded with a zero-star rating. The correct rating is 2.5 stars.
"Forever Evil" #4 is the halfway point of DC's big 2013 event, and it makes the story feel like it should be a five issue tale. We're in character shuffling mode, rearranging players on the board so they're in place for different stories that don't even look like they'll be told in this series. This issue is the comic book equivalent to listening to a friend standing outside a party telling you about how cool it is inside when all you want to do is just go in and see for yourself.
The one thing "Forever Evil" needs you to know is that it's Dark, with a capital "D." From the story to the inks to the colors, it goes out of its way to show the reader how mature it is, stopping short of taking out its driver's license and buying a pack of cigarettes. It's not a boring comic, but this doesn't make it particularly exciting either.
Geoff Johns has a lot of plates to spin, and to his credit, he does a good job of keeping them aloft, but the resulting comic reads like a stack of scenes with no consequence or substance. Lex's group of villains are on the run, but to where? Batman needs to open a Mother Box, but why does he think it will save his teammates? What purpose does Power Ring serve?Â Everyone is in character, but none of it feels particularly new. Like much of the New 52 we're doing mashups and remixes of old concepts -- check out another take on the Batman Superhero Takedown Files, one of the many origins of Bizarro, Batman as a Lantern and the Sinestro Corps! The evil Society seem less like a calculating group of unbeatable villains and more a group of overpowered psychos that accidentally succeeded. They're already falling apart and plotting against one another, taking away from the inherent drama of an unstoppable force of evil now in control of the planet.
David Finch, Richard Friend and Sonia Oback drench the mood in heavy inks and dark colors with lots of posturing in the slower scenes and pose striking in the action sequences. The men are muscled and smoosh-faced and the women all have the superpower of knowing how to stand in order to perfectly accentuate their curves. Finch understands how to draw splash scenes and dramatic entrances, and those who love utraviolence will lap this up, but overall, like the story itself, the art feels superficial.