Forever Evil Review: Justice League #25 by Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke


Justice League #25

Written by Geoff Johns

Art by Doug Mahnke, Christian Alamy, Mark Irwin, Keith Champagne, Gabe Eltaeb, Tony Avina, and Rod Reis


The short of it:

Thirty years ago in a Gotham not our own, the Wayne Family leaves a movie and walks through an alley. Bruce, the youngest son, is a spoiled brat that wants and wants and wants. Martha, the mother, just wants the boys to be quiet, and has no trouble emasculating her husband in front of them. Thomas, the father, has an army of lawyers that he keeps paid off to cover up his many malpractices. And then there’s Thomas Jr., the eldest son, who is prepared to kill his parents to insure that he and his brother get all of the money. Bruce changes his mind and backs out of the plan, but it’s not enough to stop Thomas from killing his parents….or to stop Alfred from killing him. There can be only one richest boy in Gotham, after all. And the Owl asks his name.

Now, in the present, in a Chicago very much our own, there’s a gathering of crime families to discuss what to do now that the Society has taken charge. They need a plan for their manner of badness to continue on in this world, and there are jokes that maybe the Society hasn’t even noticed them. Of course, this is a cue for Owlman to bust in and start massacring the lot of them. He’s here for a new beginning, on a world that is no longer destroyed, and a part of that is taking the heads of these crime families in order to use them to institute his power. It also means that a gangster named Eel O’Brien get shot and soaked in some acid and his skin gets…well, he’s more than a little deformed, but that’s likely an easter egg for later. The real point is Owlman has two men hanging upside down from the roof of a building, the only criminal leaders in this area that he hasn’t killed, and he only needs one of them. Whichever one is willing to unite the crime families of Chicago under his control. Both of them are willing to say so, but only the fat one calls him Batman. The ‘winner’ is Mr. Bertinelli, but we’ve already got a Huntress, so the name is pure fan service at this point.

From there he’s back at their headquarters, going to talk to Dick Grayson. We see the origin of Dick on Earth 3, his parents and sister died in a trapeze ‘accident’ at their very own circus, one they took over from Tony Zucco after Dick’s dad killed him, and one run by performers blackmailed into working there. Thomas was there for Dick when his family died, and he intends to be there for Dick now. He tells Dick whatever he wants to hear, but he still gets attacked by the former Robin. Dick doesn’t want to talk, despite all the horrible things that have happened recently, and when Owlman says to join him he has no interest in destroying the world. Alas, neither does Thomas who simply wants to rule it. But he needs Dick’s help if he’s going to stop the Crime Syndicate. Really, just like before, he’ll do whatever it takes to make Dick bond to him. To become the family that he’s lost. That’s all Thomas Wayne really wants.


What I liked:

  • Last issue was a homerun getting us into the head of Ultraman, and this one is even better doing the same with Owlman. Geoff does a fantastic job with the origins of Owlman and Talon in this issue (though Talon is just a snippit, and he’s not even called that in this issue, I just know what Owlman’s partners name is, damnit!). Owlman is cold, sadistic, but you can see the reason behind everything, and for as corrupt as he and his world are, his needs are understandable.


  • Man, if you can’t have Ivan, at least you have Doug. The art is fantastic here as Doug Mahnke brings exactly what we’ve come to expect. It’s detailed, it’s gritty, the action looks great, and the faces can tell the entire story. Plus, it’s Doug Mahnke drawing Batman esque characters. You can’t go wrong with him drawing Batman esque characters! Read The Man Who Laughs!

  • While Thomas killed his parents, it took Alfred to initially put Bruce down. Yes, Thomas finished the job, but the ever faithful butler was a big plus. If nothing else, it amplifies the established need Thomas has for family because Alfred is all he has left.

  • For Owlman, who lives and who dies is as simple as “Who called me Batman? You’re dead.”


What I didn’t like:

  • The crime family stuff made for a cool moment, but it was also kinda…it happened, and the stuff with Eel was cool, but it felt a bit too much like generic mobsters getting crushed to make him look better when he already looks awesome.


Final thoughts:

I miss when DC would put up an image of the next issues cover at the end so you’d know what was coming next. Marvel still does that! I mean, yes, I can go to my address bar, type in Justice League #26, and get everything I’d ever want to know, but sometimes I want that to just be in the issue! It’s so much better than this awful Channel 52 spread!

Dick has a sister, Thomas is Bruce’s older brother….what is it with the Earth 3 Bat family? I know that in the New 52 Batman has a younger brother named Thomas that wound up becoming Owlman, but where did Dick’s sister come from? Like, did they need her there? Did a third body really add that much? The Thomas stuff just makes me scratch my head because I can’t figure out why in this other world Bruce has an older brother. It just seems weird.

That said, Owlman > the rest of the Crime Syndicate.

So this is what Batman would be like if he were an obsessive compulsive nutjob…..

I know that stuff like ‘your apartment is blown up’ puts over the fact that the bad guys know who Dick is and are taking revenge as they see fit…but come on, it’s hard enough buying Nightwing when I know that his new status quo isn’t kicking in until after Forever Evil. Do they really need to couple that with letting you know that the previous/current one has already been blown all to hell? It was part one of a new arc today!

The contrast between Batman and Owlman is an interesting one. Both are orphans, one due to a cruel twist of fate, the other due to his own murderous ways. Both seek to save the world, though one does it through an endless attempt at eliminating the seedier elements, while the other attempts to do so by controlling those seedy elements. Both have the desire to be surrounded by family, but while Bruce seems to naturally build one up around him of like minded people, Thomas manipulates everyone into needing that emotional bond that he then provides.

I really can’t wait for the world to come tumbling down around Owlman. His ‘brother’ betraying him when Dick Grayson finally gets his moment, the imminent betrayal by Superwoman which can only be made more interesting due to the fact that she’s carrying his child, or hell, how long until Ultraman gets bored with all the backstabbing and secret plans and just goes and slaughters him?

Hell, how long until he meets Lincoln March? That’s the encounter I really want to see! Thomas Wayne Jr. vs Thomas Wayne Jr.! Owlman vs Owlman! FIGHT!

Forever Evil has been running in a formula not unlike Infinity, where you have your core mini and then a few must read tie-in books, and a few optional to follow along minis. Where it breaks apart from Infinity, however, is in how streamlined everything is. The plot is simple, the CSA has come over from Earth 3 and has taken over the world. Justice League is showing the stories behind the various members, fleshing out their characters and making us care when they do things, while JLA has been showing us what exactly happened to the Justice Leagues. The only real difference is that you can read Forever Evil, the main mini, on its own and not really miss anything. Infinity is not something I could say that about, as all I read was the main mini, and all I’ve taken out of it is that the current Marvel brass REALLY liked Earth X.

Yes, I just used this review as a soapbox to thrash Infinity while putting over Forever Evil. Suck it. Forever Evil has been absolutely awesome and blown away every last one of my expectations, while Infinity has successfully created a line of books that I do not want to read.

Overall: 9/10

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