Forever Evil Week Two has come and gone, and the three issues that stuck out as diamonds in the rough after Week One are standing out all the more given the general mediocrity of this week's batch.
Justice League 23.2: Lobo
Written by Marguarite Bennett
Art by Ben Oliver, Cliff Richards, and Daniel Brown (c)
This is the issue that garnered the most advanced attention. It's actually a perfectly fine Lobo story and more or less what you would expect from a Lobo story. This, of course, begs the question as to why this is a different Lobo. You could cut and paste the other version of Lobo into this comic and it wouldn't change it at all. There appears to be no reason for DC to have changed Lobo and claim the one that's already appeared is an imposter…unless they just really wanted to stick it to Rob Liefeld.
Aquaman 23.1: Black Manta
Written by Geoff Johns and Tony Bedard
Art by Claude St. Aubin and Blond (c)
Aquaman 23.1: Black Manta is the first villains one-shots we've seen that is an extension of Forever Evil #1, which makes sense given that it's co-written by Geoff Johns and Tony Bedard, with art by Claude St. Aubin and Blond. It would appear to be something of a pivotal issue in this crossover, given the end result. Beyond that, it's a rehashing of scenes we've already seen with some origin story flashbacks and a cry for vengeance.
Batman 23.2: Riddler
Written by Scott Snyder and Ray Fawkes
Art by Jeremy Haun and John Rausch (c)
On paper, this should have been the best book of the week. After all, Scott Snyder's Batman has been one of the few positive things to come out of the New 52 (even if it existed before). And it's a nice story that plays up the Riddler's obsession with games just a bit too much. But there's nothing really new or groundbreaking here, nothing that would suggest a special issue was necessary for it to be told. Which, I should add, is part of the problem with this gimmick: the set up is that these issues are going to be important, yet many of them feel like stories that could have been told in the regular series.
Batman and Robin 23.2: The Court of Owls
Written by James Tynion IV
Art by Jorge Lucas and Dave McCraig (c)
The previous complaint is at least somewhat addressed in this issue, as The Court of Owls is a large enough story to warrant a special. The Court of Owls has been one of the best creations of the New 52, perhaps the best creation. Honestly, this issue might actually have a fault in that it's only a single issue, when it's clear The Court of Owls could easily support a book of their own, albeit a limited one. Of particular note is the artwork by Jorge Lucas, who incorporated a darker look than I'm used to from his work, but works given the story.
Earth 2 15.2: Solomon Grundy
Written by Matt Kindt
Art by Aaron Lopresti, Art Thibert, and Michael Atiyeh (c)
I hate the new Solomon Grundy. That said, this is a perfectly fine origin story for what is ostensibly a brand new character. It's appropriately awful as far as a horror movie monster origin should be, and Kindt makes good use of the nursery rhyme. But this Grundy is generic looking and lacks any of the horrific charm of the original. His connection to the Rot is strange, if only because that seems to be a bigger issue on Earth-One than Earth-Two, but it's not an unreasonable change to make. I just think this character would have worked just as well as a new creation.
Detective Comics 23.2: Harley Quinn
Written by Matt Kindt
Art by Neil Googe and Wil Quintana (c)
This issue was kind of baffling. I got the impression that this was an attempt at transitioning Harley from the hardcore psycho New 52 version we've seen in Suicide Squad and the old school loony version it appears we'll be seeing in her upcoming solo book. I have to give Kindt and Googe credit for at least trying to make it so that the two versions aren't completely at odds. But they are. Everyone knows it. And that dissonance hurts this story. It also doesn't help that this version of Harley apparently pretends to be a criminal in order to understand them, and then decides she likes the life, going so far as to say it was freeing to be able to "play dumb." And maybe that's an attempt at saying that each version of Harley is just an act, but that seems to completely change the character.
As for the rest of the week, Zod got some depth in Action Comics #23.2, but not enough for me to understand why he would fabricate a war. Howard Porter's art in Green Lantern #23.2 is way too busy. It was nice to see art by Pascal Alixe in Superman #23.2, although it was scratchier than in the past. Mr. Freeze gets an origin story in Dark Knight #23.2, which doesn't make a lot of sense given he just got one in an annual recently. I have no idea why Killer Frost is in Justice League of America #7.2 given that her arch enemy is Firestorm, who's not on the JLA. I don't read the Flash, so #23.2 didn't
mean anything to me, but the art by Scott Hepburn was very nice. The origin of Trigon in Teen Titans #23.1 is pretty standard evil deity type stuff which apparently leads into the regular series.
All in all I stand by my core complaint: most of these issues don't seem deserving of "very special one shot" type status. Given just how many of them are being published, it's hard to believe we're going to get more than average, run of the mill stories for a lot of them.