Thursday, September 26, 2013

Comic Book Review -- Justice League 23.4: Secret Society #1

Villains Month is over. DC's third September of something completely different in a row (the past two being the New 52 launch, and the #0 issues) has come to a close, the 3D covers have sold out, and the many, many stories have been told. I would, overall, call this month a success. This month I've read good stories, I've read decent stories, and I've tried to avoid the bad stories (to some success), but it was, if nothing else, a refresher, and I enjoyed it.

I've got one of the 3D variants of Justice League #23.4 sitting on my desk right now, and, seriously, it's super cool. The hands are all totally reaching out at me, and stuff. Have you seen these 3D covers? They're so cool, you guys and-- That is not the point! I'm sorry, the point is, Secret Society #1, sitting on my desk, I've read it, would you like to hear about it? Well I'm going to tell you about it any way.

Secret Society #1 really shouldn't be called that. What it should be called is "Outsider #1," because the Trinity War villain is certainly the star of the issue, and make no mistake, it certainly falls into the "good story" category of Villains Month. It's all about his origins, and why he... Ok, you know what? There's no way to talk about this issue without spoiling the crap out of Trinity War and the premise of Forever Evil, so if you haven't read Trinity War yet, I'm about to tell you the ending of it.




The Outsider is the Earth-3 version of Alfred Pennyworth! He used Pandora's Box to bring the Crime Syndicate to Earth-1! The Justice League is dead, the world is ours!

Secret Society #1 is all about The Outsider's origin in greater detail. Specifically, just why does the Earth-3 version of Alfred look so pale? Why does he have that nervous tick of laughing? Ha.

Secret Society #1 is a good issue. It tells a compelling backstory for a villain, it gives us some reveals about Owlman and The Outsider both, and it has a cliffhanger that will definitely have you excited for Forever Evil #2 next week.

It's set in Earth-3 Gotham before The Outsider fled to Earth-1, and seeing Earth-3 Gotham, and just how corrupt it is (and keep in mind, this is compared to Gotham!) is a lot of fun. Seeing Owlman in action is great, and this issue is very heavy on set up for Owlman's character, especially in relation to the rest of the Crime Syndicate. We also get to see one of Earth-3's "heroes," although calling him that might be a bit much.

It's obvious that a lot of this issue is relying on you having read Forever Evil #1 (we get clarification on just what it was that happened to Talon in this issue, for example), and a lot of this issue is setting up things to come, especially, as with Forever Evil #1, relating to Nightwing, who it seems will have a very very major role in Forever Evil as a whole. There's striking imagery, and at least one moment that manages to have you genuinely sympathetic for Owlman, which is quite an accomplishment for a character who is literally just "evil Batman."

Because of the major things to come which this issue sets up, I would heavily recommend anyone reading Forever Evil pick this issue up.

The only major problem I had with the issue is the art. It's not bad, in fact it's quite good in parts, but it's very very dark, and sometimes that makes it almost incomprehensible. Sequential art relies on my being able to tell what's going on, and there are points in this issue where that's a problem. Still, it didn't get in the way of the story for the most part, and there are images in this issue that are very very striking which I don't want to spoil for you here. (To those who have read the issue: Talon. That is all.)

This might be my favorite of the Villains Month issues, and I read quite a few which I very much enjoyed. Consider this a strong recommendation. (Plus, seriously you guys, these 3D covers are, like, super cool.)

Trinity War's Successes and Failures, a Crossover Recap and Review

(Note: The following is adapted from a very long forum post I made to io9's Observation Deck forum.)

Trinity War was the big summer event that was supposed to feature the three Justice Leagues (the Justice League, the JLA, and the Justice League Dark) fighting each other over the mysterious artifact Pandora's Box. Pandora, The (Nu) Question, and The Phantom Stranger make up the "Trinity of Sin," who also feature heavily in it. Including tie-ins it was 11 issues long, and about four of those were worthwhile.

So here's the rundown (spoilers, obviously). As you may have heard, Superman and Wonder Woman are dating now. Well, the United States government decides that they don't like the fact that the two most powerful beings on the planet are now dating, and decide to create their own Justice League under (skinny) Amanda Waller, led by Steve Trevor.

The Justice League of America's goal was supposedly the same as the regular Justice League's, truth, justice, the American way, all that. Secretly (as in, even the members of the JLA don't know it, only Waller, Trevor, and a select few others do), they picks were specifically chosen to take down the Justice League should the need arise. The JLA was made up of Martian Manhunter (to counter Superman), Katana (to counter Wonder Woman), Hawkman (to counter Aquaman), Vibe (to counter The Flash), Stargirl (to counter Cyborg), Green Lantern (to counter... Well, to counter Green Lantern), and Catwoman (to counter Batman). Green Arrow eventually gets added to the team too, because he really wants to be on a Justice League, you guys.

Some of the picks were dodgy, but I actually thought the first five issues of the Nu52 JLA were pretty good. They featured the new JLA squaring off against a secret society that's recruiting various supervillains to their cause, led by a mysterious figure called The Outsider. It's recommended reading for Trinity War, because The Outsider and the Secret Society are the main baddies in that event. They end up taking down Professor Ivo, but The Outsider gets away (but not before some incredibly awesome foreshadowing about his identity. Basically he has a map of the Batcave, and he knows who Batman is).

Also during this time Waller has a certain scientist working for her, Dr. Arthur Light, examine a thingymabobber that the Secret Society hid. It explodes, and he's transformed into Dr. Light, who, in the Nu 52, is now a good guy! Oh yeah, and the Atom (a member of the Justice League) is actually a double agent for the JLA.

So Pandora's Box. Pandora #1, billed as "a prequel to Trinity War," gives background on Pandora herself. She is one of the members of the Trinity of Sin, the three greatest sinners in history, Pandora, Judas (The Phantom Stranger), and The Question, whose identity was erased from history, who were all sentenced to the curse of immortality by the council of eternity. Pandora (accidentally) unleashed the original evil into the world waaaay back when, and now she has Pandora's Box, and she's convinced that if either the person with a completely pure, or completely evil heart touches it, evil will be removed from the world (as well as the Seven Sins, who are actual physical monsters). So, in part one of Trinity War, she takes the box to Superman. Turns out even Superman has some evil in his heart, because when he touches it, it briefly turns him evil. Wonder Woman knocks the box from his hands, and he's back to normal... OR IS HE?! (He is.)

I'm not even going to get into the why, because this recap is already super long, but at this time Shazam (yeah, he's called that now) decides to take an urn of Black Adam's ashes, and spread them among the sands of his homeland, because even villains deserve an honorable burial, yada yada yada. The problem is that Kahndaq, Black Adam's homeland, is basically desert North Korea, and absolutely off limits to Americans. Shazam says it'll be fine though, because Wonder Woman and Superman went there themselves, disregarding the laws of the country, just a few weeks prior to free some hostages. Considering he's like, ten, I'll allow it.

The Justice League detects Shazam heading for Kahndaq, and decide they need to go get him out of there before it leads to an international incident. The JLA sees the entire Justice League headed there, and they decide that must be the Justice League finally deciding to overthrow the Khandaqi government, or something, and head after them in turn. The Justice League Dark is actually like barely in this comic, so they don't do anything.

So Shazam, the Justice League, and the JLA all arrive at Khandaq at the same time, and all start yelling at each other. Once they're there though, Doctor Light's powers start going haywire because he's next to the most powerful solar battery in the world, Superman, and he accidentally zaps Wonder Woman, and Superman gets really really angry, and, well...

SO THAT HAPPENS. About two pages later though, The Outsider is like "lol, just kidding, it was really me." I guess Kotaku didn't read that far into the issue when they wrote their article.

And that's part one. Here's where the problems with Trinity War actually start. Hardly anything happens between parts one and five, including tie-ins. It's a bunch of the Justice Leagues starting to fight... and then not actually getting into an all out brawl.

So in part two the Justice League and the JLA start fighting each other, but right as they start Superman yells "STOP!" and tells the JLA to take him into custody, and that he can't believe he lost control like that.

Wonder Woman decides very logically that the BOX THAT TURNED SUPERMAN EVIL might have something to do with WHY SUPERMAN TURNED EVIL (it doesn't). She decides to go after Pandora. Batman says that there was a mind controlling supervillain hiding in Khandaq at the time, so it was probably him that did it. The Justice League and the JLA start working together to figure out why Superman killed that guy, and Amanda Waller is like "oooh, hey, Firestorm, make me some kryptonite, because I'm definitely not evil or anything."

In Pandora #2 (Tie-in 2) Pandora goes and talks to Vandal Savage, and it turns out he can't use Pandora's Box either, because it turns him into a crying regretful mess when he does.

In part three Wonder Woman takes Pandora's Box to Hephaestus, who tells her that the greek gods don't actually know anything about it, they just took credit for it. Wonder Woman decides that to find Pandora, she needs the help of the Justice League Dark so halfway through the series they finally start showing up in a meaningful way (there's a bit with the Secret Society kidnapping Madame Xanadu, it doesn't actually matter). The Justice League and the JLA go after Wonder Woman, and for some reason don't want her to go after the box that looks like the most likely cause for Superman turning evil ("it's too dangerous," I think). Anyways, she basically says "no, I'm going to find Pandora anyways," and takes some of the heroes (Stargirl, Hawkman, Frankenstein, Aquaman) with her. The Phantom Stranger shows up and says "Hey Batman, I'll take you to Heaven so we can just ask Dr. Light who killed him." So Batman takes Katana and a couple others with him, and they go off into tie-in number two. Constantine, meanwhile, tells Shazam that he has some really nice candy in a windowless van parked out behind the House of Mystery, and they walk off to go chill in tie-in number three. The Question shows up and tells Superman he knows that he's innocent, and that he wants to help Superman prove his innocence. Superman (who's looking super sickly now, by the way) follows him and they break out, because reasons (remember that Superman believes that he is guilty at this point). Oh, and the Outsider mentions to the reader the minor detail that he has a mole planted in the Justice League.

Anyway, tie-in two, Constantine tricks Shazam into switching bodies with him because NuConstantine is a douchebag, and Shazam tricks him right back. That's... Basically the whole issue.

Tie-in three is actually a solid issue of the Phantom Stranger, but has almost no impact on the plot of Trinity War (which, I suppose, it could be argued that tie-ins shouldn't. I'll leave that debate for another day, especially since I really liked this issue). Batman, Katana, Deadman, and The Phantom Stranger go to heaven, freak out about how nice everything is there and how they'd love to just stay there forever, get over it, and then find Dr. Light. Dr. Light is in a heaven coma and it could be bad to wake him up, for heaven reasons, but Batman is like "Clark is my bro, I don't care about harming this innocent man! WAKE UP!" Aaaand Dr. Light knows absolutely bugger all. The Phantom Stranger is erased from existence because of stuff that's happening in his solo series.

Part four! Remember the mind controlling baddie who was in Khandaq? Yeah, they find him. It wasn't him. Superman shows up. The Atom admits that she's been a spy for the JLA all along, which increases tensions between the group. They decide that maybe Waller is behind Superman killing Dr. Light, since she wanted to replace the Justice League with the JLA, and destroying public confidence in them is a big first step. Not long after they get to the JLA headquarters however, it turns out that The Outsider planted a bomb in Doctor Light's body, or something, and he blows the JLA headquarters to smithereens.

Pandora takes the box to Lex Luthor, since she's looking for someone evil, and Wonder Woman shows up to get the box from her. Like an idiot, Wonder Woman grabs the box, and BOOM, it turns her evil. OK, bear with me here, this is where Trinity War actually starts being kind of good again.

Part 5 of 6 (which is actually part 9 of 11, for those keeping score) finally has the heroes fighting. Basically, when Wonder Woman grabs the box it somehow activates, and everyone nearby starts fighting over it. It turns everyone nearby except for Pandora and John Constantine evil (Constantine says he's unaffected because you "can't spoil a pot that's already filthy"). The heroes at the JLA headquarters help people out of the rubble, and such, and realize that it probably wasn't Waller. The JLA realizes just how badly they've been being played by Waller though, which is why they're going to become the Justice League of Canada soon (that's not a joke). So, basically, this issue is a big fight scene, but it's a well done fight scene, so I can't complain.

Nothing of consequence to Trinity War happens in Pandora #3, and I dropped the title immediately after that issue since all the issues I read were just boring, so I won't mention it any further.

So, the big conclusion. Would you like to know how this series ends? Incredibly well!

Constantine takes the box to the Temple of Hephaestus, where it was originally discovered (except for the fact that Pandora #1 contradicts that). A bunch more heroes show up, and one by one they start fighting each other for control of the box. Superman collapses, since he's super sick at this point. Firestorm checks him out, and realizes what's causing his sickness; He has a microscopic piece of kryptonite in his brain (this is what caused him to melt Dr. Light's face). How did it get there, you ask? The Atom put it there.

Turns out The Atom and The Outsider have been working together from the very start. They've also uploaded a virus called GRID into Cyborg, so he's been a traitor too, without even knowing it (upon this revelation the metal parts of Cyborg eject the human parts and form a fully robot body calling itself GRID, Vic is currently being kept alive by the green lantern).

So, just who is The Outsider, who has been being hyped up since the sixth issue of Nu52 Justice League? Oh, that's simple, it's Alfred Pennyworth. Kind of.

Guess what the "Trinity" in "Trinity War" stands for. Is it for the typical "trinity" of superheroes, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman? Nope. Is it for the "Trinity of Sin," The Question, The Phantom Stranger, and Pandora? Nope. Is it for the trinity of Justice Leagues involved in it? Not that, either.

It's for Earth-3.

Holy mother of god was that an effective plot twist.

Earth-3, in case you aren't familiar, is the alternate Earth where all the Superheroes are Supervillains, and vice-versa. Turns out that in the New 52, Earth-3 is a desolate wasteland destroyed by the Crime Syndicate (the evil Justice League). Years ago Owlman sent his loyal servant (and the man who killed his parents) Alfred Pennyworth to a parallel universe, along with another member of the Crime Syndicate, Atomica, who took the identity of The Atom in our world.

Pandora's Box? That's basically an ancient Boom Tube, used to travel between Earth-1 and Earth-3.

This is, to say the least, an awesome reveal. The Justice Leagues have pretty much already beaten each other, so the Crime Syndicate steps out of the portal created by Pandora's Box, wipes the floor with the Justice Leagues, and then takes over the world. That's why DC has been doing Villains Month this September, and that's what Forever Evil is about. The Crime Syndicate is claiming that the Justice League is dead, and have taken over the world, as well as destroying a large part of it. Now Lex Luthor has decided no one is going to take over the world but him, and he's going to lead a group of supervillains to fight the Crime Syndicate. Forever Evil seems awesome so far, I highly recommend checking that one out since it seems much, much better. If you want to read that, start with Forever Evil #1, and Justice League #23.4 (which is The Outsider's origin story, and I would call required reading).

Trinity War wasn't the worst story ever, not by a long shot. The art was very good throughout, and it started and ended really, really strongly. The problem is that the middle was a bunch of running around talking to different people, and that the tie-ins were almost all super boring (I love The Phantom Stranger series that's going on right now, and that issue was no different). For a series which promised us the Justice Leagues fighting each other in an all out war, it really didn't deliver on that until the very end, and when it did it used the cop-out of mind control. I would have preferred to see a simpler story. The ending, and the reveal of what Pandora's Box actually was, left a lot of unanswered questions as well. Who originally created Pandora's Box, all those thousands of years ago? Why did the box make people turn evil (they do handwave this by saying that Earth-3 is the origin of all evil, but I'd like more of an answer than that)? How did the Crime Syndicate get their hands on the box?
...That said, there's still a lot of stuff that works, especially toward the beginning and ending. Trinity War was a disappointment to me overall, but it's still worth a read if only to see the lead in to the (in my opinion) much more compelling Forever Evil event. Still, I can't help but wish it had hit the mark just a little bit more.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Comic Book Review -- Justice League 23.2 "Lobo #1" (Spoilers)

In case you haven't been following DC Comics news lately, PR hasn't been great for the company. Among the Harley Quinn nude-suicide/Batwoman not getting married debacles, there was a smaller bit of backlash when images of the new design for Lobo, a character who's always been straight out of 90's comics "RRRRR NEED MORE MUSCLES AND POCKETS" phase, were released.

This new Lobo design was announced to appear during DC's "Villain's Month," in Justice League 23.2, "Lobo #1," and many people, myself included, were skeptical. It wasn't so much that the design was terrible, it was more that it just wasn't Lobo. I'm not even a big fan of Lobo (although, like everything else about 52, he was great in 52), but if you're going to introduce a character who seems almost nothing like the original, then why not just make a new character entirely?

Even stranger was the fact that Lobo had already been introduced in the DC New 52, looking pretty much like he always had (which is to say like an albino Hulk Hogan), so the introduction of this new version of Lobo seemed a bit strange.

Well, as it turns out, despite the questionable choices being made at DC, we didn't have that much to worry about, because "Lobo #1" is just fine.

Let me back up a minute. "Lobo #1" is not a great comic. It's not some masterpiece, and the actual story of this one-shot isn't anything you haven't seen before. This is a very typical "Sci-Fi bounty hunter/smuggler" story, to the point where you can almost tell what's going to happen beat for beat. "Oh, Lobo's sitting in the crowd at this party? I wonder if he's there to kill someone?" "Oh, the mysterious cargo Lobo is smuggling is strangely heavy? I wonder what could be inside it?" "Oh, Lobo's cargo turns out to be *spoiler*? I wonder how this will turn out?"

However, as an introduction to this new/old character, this issue works well. The first thing to note is this: The new Lobo actually doesn't look half-bad. I don't think that concept art was very representative of what the new Lobo looks like in action, and in practice he's much more Han Solo, much less Edward Cullen. This version of Lobo is very quickly established as a very cold "only in it for the money and respect" kind of character. And... It works. 

But here's the thing that made this issue work for me, above everything else. And this is going to spoil the ending, so if you don't want to know how Lobo #1 ends, and what that means for potential future appearances of the character, stop reading now.

Are they gone? Ok, cool.

So here's what's up with the new version of Lobo (and I think DC may have mentioned this before the book went public, but I'm treating it like a spoiler any way). The Lobo who has been living on Earth for the past two years is not actually Lobo, he's an impostor. He is (I believe this is what this issue was implying) the only other survivor of the true Lobo's rampage and destruction of their home planet, Czarnia. At the end of the issue, the new Lobo receives his payment for the smuggling job, the location of the Lobo impostor, Earth. At the end of the issue, the new Lobo takes off, and heads for Earth, to finish off the only person to ever escape him.

All right, that's pretty cool.

I'm not sure where or when this storyline will be continued, but I'm eager to see where it goes. I'm not saying that I have complete faith that this storyline will be good, but I hope it is, and I can certainly see interesting places they could take it. I'm hoping what they won't do is have New Lobo show up and kill Lobo Classic immediately.

What I'm hoping is for an actual storyline involving a battle between the two, New Lobo showing off his bounty hunter skills to track Lobo Classic down, and maybe even show Lobo Classic trying to recruit the help of other villains, or the Justice League, to stop New Lobo from destroying everything in his path in search of Lobo Classic.

If that's where this storyline goes, and hopefully that's where they're planning on taking it, then count me in. This new version of the main man seems like a pretty cool character to me, and I have only the vaguest affinity for the original version, so I'm ready to see where things go. This is a much better way to introduce a new version of a classic character, and shake up the status quo, than, say, what they've done with The Question, which is to say completely ruined The Question.

But that's a topic for another time. The point is, "Lobo #1" is a solid, thought not outstanding, issue, and I'm intrigued to see where they take the character.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Marveling - (Wolverine and the X-Men #1-4)

I like comic books. I would imagine that's something people who know me have figured out by now. I think Superheroes are cool, and there's potential for a lot of excellent stories to be told uniquely through the comic book format.

The thing is, while I like things like the Marvel Cinematic Universe a lot, I'm still relatively unfamiliar with the actual Marvel comic universe, so not long ago I asked for some suggestions on books to help me get caught up, and I got a bunch! So, between those, some arcs I've decided I want to read on my own, and some cheap stuff I picked up at a con a while back (mostly because Brian Michael Bendis name was on the cover and he's awesome), I've got a good chunk of Marvel stuff to jump into. And I thought, hey, why not chronicle my journey through the Marvel Universe?

So here's a new thing I'm going to be writing precisely whenever. I'm going to jot down some thoughts about whatever it is I've just read! This is going to be pretty informal, spoiler-laden, and will probably be stream-of-consciousness-esque, because I really just want to focus on getting my thoughts on each comic down and putting them out there.

The first thing which jumped out at me out of the huge pile I've got sitting in my bedroom right now is Wolverine and the X-Men, by Jason Aaron, because I remember liking the cartoon from a few years back quite a bit. I looked it up, this series actually started two years after the cartoon, so I can only assume the idea was popular enough to gain it's own ongoing comic. Basically the idea is that instead of Professor Xavier, Wolverine is leading the X-Men/The Xavier Academy (well, in this it's "Jean Grey Academy") of Higher Learning. It really worked well in cartoon format, though the show was unfortunately short lived.

The comic takes that idea and does a slightly different spin on it. This is basically the various older X-Men (Kitty Pryde, Iceman, Beast, Rogue... Rachel Grey? I don't know who that is.) teaching a younger generation of X-Men, including a bunch of characters who, based on comments in the story I'm assuming are characters which had already been established, but who I'm not familiar with. These include characters like Kid Gladiator, an alien prince, Broo, a nerdy alien whose species is apparently quite vicious, other than him, Kid Omega, who is apparently a bad guy? ...Uh, my point. Even though I wasn't familiar with these characters until reading these first four issues, they do a very good job of if not giving you a ton of character backstory, then at least giving you a good idea of what each character's personality is.

This felt like a pretty good leaping on point to more modern X-Men comics to me, because (due to something they keep referring to as the "schism,") the X-Men have broken up at the beginning of this, and Wolverine is reforming them. And the characters they've picked to focus on tend to be the X-Men I've always liked in their various films and cartoons: Wolverine, Kitty Pryde, Beast, Rogue, Iceman, and the aforementioned Rachel Grey, who I'm assuming is related to Jean Grey.

The story for the first three issues involves around the opening of the school (and the inspection by the school board), and then the new King of the Hellfire Club, a twelve year old boy who apparently runs a massive arms corporation. The tone of the book seems to be more lighthearted than I expected, mostly focusing on comedy and school antics. I'm not totally sure if it works, to be honest, because while the tone seemed to be pretty goofy, most of the jokes fell pretty flat for me.

My major problem with the first three issues lies mostly with the artwork. It feels very disjointed and it tends to do extreme close-ups on everything, to the point where I can't tell what's happening. There were quite a few panels that I honestly just didn't know what it was supposed to be depicting, and in a comic book that's a pretty major flaw. It kind of felt like the comic book equivalent of Michael Bay cinematography. It might be showing the coolest stuff in the world, but you can't really tell if you can't see what's going on!

The reveal that the entire school has been built on an enormous living hunk of rock called Krakoa was pretty cool though, and the story seemed to function fine, it was just a major problem with the artwork really bogging my enjoyment of the comic down.

The fourth issue was much better. The art shifted to a more traditional style, and I could actually tell what was going on. This issue focused on the introduction of Angel, who has lost his memories during a battle with Apocalypse, and now believes himself to be an actual angel, as well as the introduction of another new student, "Genesis"/Evan, who turns out to be a clone of Apocalypse. I liked this issue for a couple reasons. First of all, there were actually some funny moments ("I found a gray hair [this morning]. The whole day I've been pretending it was an illusion and that we're secretly under attack by Mysterio."). Second of all, both the Angel stuff and the Genesis stuff seems like it's setting up some potentially very interesting plot lines (to say nothing of the actual final shot of a suddenly-pregnant Kitty Pryde).

So overall I wasn't totally sold on the first four issues of Wolverine and the X-Men, but I liked the last issue enough that I'll give the next trade a shot. I like the idea behind the series, the initial story seems like it has potential, and I'm very happy with their selection of characters to focus on, but I thought the humor fell pretty flat, and the artwork in the first three issues was pretty bad.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Comic Book Review -- Forever Evil #1

(Spoilers for Trinity War to follow.)

I'm just going to open with this: Trinity War was a disappointment. The much hyped summer event comic which featured the three Justice Leagues (The Justice League, The Justice League of America, and The Justice League Dark, for those counting) fighting each other started very strong with this:

And ended very strong with this:

But pretty much everything in between was just kind of pointless and lame. The three Justice Leagues didn't so much go to war as they did have a brief skirmish and then come to a polite understanding (although Trinity Polite Understanding wouldn't have been as catchy a title), and the tie-ins were all pretty bad with the exception of The Phantom Stranger #12, and that only worked as a Phantom Stranger story because the current run on The Phantom Stranger is fantastic and you should be reading that instead.

So, while Trinity War is far from the worst comic out there (or even the worst comic DC's put out recently), it had a strong beginning, a strong ending, and a very long, very mediocre middle, which ended in a fairly lame story overall.

Which makes me all the more excited to tell you that the first issue of Forever Evil, the immediate follow up to Trinity War, is excellent.

Forever Evil picks up shortly after Trinity War ended, with the Crime Syndicate, the evil doppelgangers of the Justice League from Earth-3, having used Pandora's Box to make it through to the Justice League's world and supposedly killed the Justice League.

The Crime Syndicate has used their resources, and their new member Grid, to black out the planet, announce to the world that it now belongs to them, and broken the world's super-criminals out of prison. As in, all of them. This, of course, leads into this month's special DCU-wide event, Villain's Month, where all of the DC Universe's titles have been replaced by #1 issues for their respective villains (Justice League 23.1-23.4, for example, will be "Darkseid #1," "Lobo #1," "Dial E #1," and "Secret Society #1").

And, in my humble opinion, Forever Evil #1 is an excellent start to the DCU-wide event which will be running from now until March.

Geoff Johns has gotten a pretty bad reputation among comic book fans lately, not entirely undeservedly, but this is him at his best. His talents have always seemed best suited to the massive, broad scale stories, and his smaller scale stories (which, unfortunately, Trinity War ended up becoming) usually fall a bit flat. Forever Evil provides a story of an impressive scale, and he seems to be jumping right in.

The Crime Syndicate present excellent villains, and having recruited virtually every supervillain in the world sets them up an incredibly powerful. The fact that our heroes are gone, and our "hero" for the series is now a famous supervillain himself (who is none too happy to let the Crime Syndicate conquer his world) gives us an excellent hook.

Even within the first issue, the plot takes several twists and turns, including several which seem like they'll have massive repercussions DCU-wide even after the Forever Evil event has come and gone. If Forever Evil can keep up this level of quality, it'll be a series to remember.