Sunday, January 5, 2014

What the Hell is up with Forever Evil #4?

Bada-bang, here it comes! Forever Evil #4 wasn't as bad as #2, which is thus far the low point due to excessive quantities of Johnny Quick, but it was still noxious as all Hell. Let me show you why and how.

We open in the Batcave, where I'm still surprised that Johns picked Batman to be the League's only representation in this series. He has a lot of pet characters in the JL, after all. Catwoman's there, too, and it's clear that this is the first time she's been in the 'cave.

I sort of get the Nightwing thing now, it was used to give Batman a stronger motivation for bringing down the Syndicate. Oh, and that's the wheel of a steam-powered motorcycle, by the way. It's not in running condition, illustrating that Batman is prepared but not, like, that prepared. Although a worldwide power outage wouldn't affect most internal combustion vehicles in the first place; didn't Johns ever play Devil Survivor?

Does she really think Batman needs a special toy to handle her? Anyway, he shows off his stuff -- a kryptonite ring, a yellow Sinestro Corps ring, that sorta stuff. We're really treading Infallible Bat-God territory here, but I'm letting that slide just this once because there's nobody else to challenge the Syndicate besides Lex's Legion of Doom.

Speaking of, there's an incredibly idiotic scene where Luthor compares himself to the members of his little team -- he talks about how people see him as a shark over a shot of Black Manta, for instance. 

Ultraman kills Metallo for his kryptonite heart in a fight that isn't even a fight. It was so worthwhile to develop Metallo in Villain Month just to kill him three months later, let me tell you.

Superwoman manages to sneak up on Ultraman and chides him for being paranoid, absorbing more kryptonite than he needs to because he's afraid of whatever destroyed Earth-3. She also reveals that she's pregnant and tries to stoke the Ultraman-Owlman feud by saying Owlman's plotting against the team. Geoff Johns has issues with women, is what I'm getting out of this.

As if Johns were punishing me for my continual disdain for the Power Ring character, he's once again the main Syndicate member in this issue -- Ultraman and Superwoman stop being relevant after appearing in two or three pages, and Grid puts in a token appearance that's still mostly dominated by Power Ring. Deathstorm abandons him and Ultraman charges PR with hunting down the Rogues himself. Power Ring freaks out and demands support from Grid.

The Doom Patrol, do they exist in the new continuity? I know Robotman was in My Greatest Adventure... Whatever, I guess they're established now if they weren't before. Meanwhile, for reasons not that clear, Luthor and his team break into Wayne Enterprises from the sewers. There's a 'cute' little moment between Bizarro and Luthor when it turns out Bizarro is afraid of the dark. And Luthor tells him a story to help him be brave. I stress that I am in no way joking, this is really what happens.

It's the feel-good story of the year! The zany but heartwarming adventures of Luthor and Bizarro! Bizarro finally got his name after hearing that he was called "B-Zero" and mangling it, which I admit was better than having some other character mishear it or something.

This seems as good a time as any to mention that Black Adam's jaw was broken by Ultraman last issue, and so his speech can't be understood by the other characters but is fairly easy for a reader to figure out by sounding out the words. It's mostly identical to how Johns' old Flash villain Murmur talks -- regular words and sentences with the vowels taken out. Apparently a broken jaw sounds the same as having no tongue and your lips sewn together. Or just trying to talk with your teeth clenched and lips half closed.

Luthor and Batman had the same idea, and they run right into each other in the Wayne building.

But before a real fight can break out between them, Power Ring shows up with an utterly random assortment of villains. He also says a cringe-worthy one-liner.

Wow, almost forgot that the Syndicate had every regular villain under their thrall. Especially since Ultraman's spent his last two meaningful appearances beating up regular villains. Incidentally, this is a fairly random assortment -- Deathstroke, Copperhead, Giganta, I think that's Blockbuster, and Shadow-Thief? The connection...? 

From a technical standpoint, you could argue that Power Ring is the perfect Batman villain, as he is nothing if not cowardly (jury's out on superstitious). Of course, it's practically bullying to both be Batman and a Yellow Lantern and go up against him. As a sidenote, Batman is 100% not evil, unlike every other person with a yellow ring besides I guess Nero -- Johns unwittingly pointed out a flaw in his own premise by showing a Yellow Lantern use his ring's powers for good, thus illustrating that the Sinestro Corps probably shouldn't be the mustache-twirling corps of pure evil.

It turns out that, oddly, Power Ring isn't vulnerable to yellow ring crap -- he handles Batman's constructs and even takes and destroys his ring very easily. And then Sinestro shows up.

I was surprised by Sinestro's appearance because I don't know what stake he could possibly have in all this. He probably doesn't care about Earth, for one thing, and I know he was a notable absence in the villain meet-up in #1. Most probably he's just there to help round out the Legion of Doom. That or Johns wants to do the "you killed my beloved -- er, arch-enemy!" thing he did with Black Manta again.

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