If the first issue was "introducing the players" then the second is assuredly "setting the board".
Forever Evil is merely a bunch of cool-looking accessories on a poorly-manufactured car. There are kernels of exciting story, but it's not put together yet, like a LEGO set sitting in the middle of your living room, eagerly waiting to scar your bare feet.
I'm a huge fan of villain-centric comics so I convinced myself to grab the first post-New 52 mega event. Am I disappointed so far? I can't say yet, because not much has happened. Lex Luthor is the de facto good guy but he's far removed from the that stars of the show, the always intriguing Crime Syndicate. Truthfully, in light of DC's recent drastic efforts in attracting new fans it's a little odd to publish an event that features nearly no mainstream heroes, but hey, I ain't complaining. For the first time it's feels like we've taken a step out of the introduction phase of the semi-reboot.
Much of the time in Forever Evil #2 is spent on introducing the members of the mirrored Justice League, centered mostly bloodthirsty and deliciously maniacal Johnny Quick/Atomica couple. Also spotlighted are moments looking at the twisted doctor/patient relationship of Deathstorm and Power Ring, the secrets of Superwoman and Owlman and the mysterious hooded prisoner introduced at the end of Trinity War.
Geoff Johns aptly balances both the practical and indulgent duties of a core crossover series; however, it's the balance that holds the issue back. It's pretty clear the bits with the Teen Titans, the Rogues and Ultraman will probably be followed up outside this series. With both this and Marvel's Infinity event I feel like I'm only reading a portion of the story, and that barely make sense since they're effectively miniseries. We gotta fix that, Comics.
DC never fails to throw sick looking art at its bigger projects, a benefit of being able to pay for the best. The workings of David Finch are of typical high quality. Finch operates well in the darker realms, and his style fits a punchy script that jumps around a lot. There are some inconsistencies but that's made up for with insane rendering. The book is cramped, slimy and little scary, and there is a feeling as if we're actually stuck in close quarters with this possibly psychopathic cast. Finch is paired with the rest of the team from the early Batman: The Dark Knight run, Richard Friend and Sonia Oback, and together they deliver a tightly packed, shadowy story that revels in the violent and appalling moments. Exhibit A: The energetic madman Johnny Quick.
Even with all the fun imagery and unbridled mayhem Forever Evil possesses, it's mainly worth reading because of its elevation of Lex Luthor. James Robinson worked a fresh angle by featuring Luthor in Action Comics just preceding the New 52 and the atmosphere is the same here. Lex is a "ends justify the means" kind of guy, and let's be real, post-Heisenberg we need someone to take up the bald, quasi-protagonist role. Sadly, whatever machinations Johns has planned are fuzzy, but apparently they involve the iconic green and purple war suit and Bizarro, who gets a brand new origin because, hell, why not?
Villains Month is over. It was a victory "on paper" but not on the paper, if you get me. Yet, Forever Evil is a different animal as it will be around for several months and affect many of the core books in the line. There is a great idea brewing underneath the foggy set-up of this issue, but I'm not very optimistic we'll get the story I think we're all looking for.