Personally, I feel that DC’s New 52 was a great way for DC to bring their dated characters into the next generation, both securing their already established characters like Batman, and Superman, while also setting up obscure characters like Constantine and Firestorm for the future. The wealth of DC’s vast history was now condensed into a 5 year gap, making all of our heroes new, and inexperienced while letting younger readers experience the beginnings of their favorite characters without having to search a library dating back 80 plus years. While this has caused many questions to arise as to how certain things could happen in those 5 years (i.e. How many Robins could Batman have in 5 years? Did the death of Superman really happen? Was there ever a Crisis?) and left many characters missing after the events of Flashpoint (i.e. Donna Troy, Wally West until recently) it gave readers a fresh perspective and a good starting point for all characters. DC used Flashpoint as the catalyst to change their whole universe while leaving the door open for the original DC to come back. But after all this time, and that world-changing storyline, I believe the New 52 is here to stay and that DC is better for it.
For a seasoned comic reader like myself, the re-imagining of my favorite characters, makes them more connectable in modern times. I was in love with the initial vision Marvel had for the Ultimate Universe and the ideas they set up for well-established characters, but they were scared to reboot their properties as a whole and kept Ultimate Marvel separate from their 616 universe. DC was known for their multiple universes which led to the Infinity Crisis and other well-known DC storylines. But with the New 52 the concept of multiple Earths was erased in order for us readers to dive into the new world created and not muck up the reader's minds with the confusing aspect of DC’s massive landscape of old. The promise that DC’s multiple Earths would return was given and shown when titles such as Earth 2 and World’s Finest were launched, and a promise of a full Multiverse was alluded to with the announcement of Grant Morrison’s Multiversity coming out later this year. So how does DC immerse a brand new audience into the New 52? How will their first story arch compare to the DC of old? Can our re-imagined heroes contend with their dated counterparts? These questions will be explored as I review the first two events that bring DC into the future: Trinity War and Forever Evil.
Trinity War’s introduction to the New 52 weighed heavily on the shoulders of a character with no history or past, a new character created just for the New 52 by the name of Pandora. The neverending quest she embarked on began when she let loose the Deadly Sins into the world by way of a box (sound familiar?). Her punishment was to walk the Earth for all eternity, witnessing the devastation the sins had caused spanning thousands of years. Her story changes when she is tasked to eliminate the sins by using the box she released them from. The story then jumps to the three Justice Leagues with the story focusing more on the mystic side of the DC Universe.
This leads me to my first problem with Trinity War which was that it didn’t really resonate throughout the whole DC spectrum. The characters handled this issue in a unified front which led to the teams being tricked into using the box for the Secret Society's means. The best part of Trinity War was seeing your favorite heroes' mad dash for Pandora’s Box and how it effected each team member that encountered it, specifically Superman. What happens to Superman in this story was the, “Oh s#*t, they didn’t really do that, did they?” moment and things escalate from there.
The biggest moment of Trinity War occurs when mysterious character, The Outsider, who runs the Secret Society, plans to use the box for his own means. The Justice Leagues have actually been working toward The Outsider's own ends the entire time, which was the most interesting aspect of the series. The mystery behind his motives was way more interesting than witnessing the three Justice Leagues constantly bicker and come to blows about the box, switch teams about the box, and unite about the box. It was quite tedious and stupid when thinking that the objective was quite simple, but seeing how they reacted after what Superman had done made it slightly justifiable.
Geoff Johns is the master of the New 52. His direction and aim was slowly deteriorating my faith in what DC intended to offer me. I was in love with the characters' solo books such as Wonder Woman, and Animal Man and this first major crossover was quickly becoming boring and lackluster. The whole purpose was becoming a waste to me. I didn’t believe in the motives of my heroes. I didn’t believe in their battles with each other and their common enemy. That was until The Outsider’s plan came to fruition, his purpose was shown and his "master" was summoned. What came next set up the future for DC’s now unrelenting assault on comic readers' minds of new and old.
Geoff Johns delivered us complete confirmation of multiple Earths, and the return of the Crime Syndicate of America. Geoff Johns didn’t just end a crossover event with an epic and shocking twist, he also set the stage for the next crossover event that would save the low points that were established in Trinity War, and see our DC characters at their best.
Okay, I will start by saying that Forever Evil was a fun event to read. It gave us a different perspective of the DC universe and gave every DC solo book to a villain of the main character for some months. We now knew our villains' motives and understood some of their viewpoints while being utterly disgusted by others. Forever Evil is a great starting point for those new to reading comics and DC books as a whole. There wasn’t much you needed to know about your heroes, other than they were captured by the Crime Syndicate and that a handful of heroes and villains were trying to take the world back from Crime Syndicate’s clutches.
The side stories were great and the main series as a whole was only lacking because of delays and the inconsistencies caused by knowing certain things were happening in the main story before the main story came out. I also found that the unmasking of a beloved character did little to that character's mentor when it would be quite obvious who would be behind both their masks, and wouldn’t take a genius (like it did in the story) to deduce who was behind the mask of everyone directly connected to that character. It seemed sloppy and not completely thought out. When you read the story you will know exactly what I mean. I hope that the repercussions for such an act will be played out instead of ignored farther down the road.
The most outstanding and remarkable thing about Forever Evil is the fact that I now love Lex Luthor as a hero, and I am highly intrigued to see what his dynamic will bring to the table in the near future. Geoff Johns said that Lex Luthor was the character we all needed to watch out for this coming year and, after Forever Evil #7, I completely understand why. The similarities between Lex and Batman are undeniable and the rivalry that will now transpire between them will be epic. (If you don’t believe me, check out Justice League #30.) Lex as a hero is Batman without the secret identity, which would become ironic to you after you read the whole series.
Forever Evil closes the doors on questions raised in Trinity War and then offers brand new views of classic characters from the Pre-New 52 era. We will have to wait and see but Forever Evil could have planted major seeds for both Future’s End and Batman Eternal, which are coming out on a weekly basis with a major story unfolding in each. Forever Evil cemented that the New 52 is the direction we are heading in. Those pining for the old DC that they knew need to get over it quick before they miss out on the new legacy that’s being illustrated right before their eyes. The art is eye popping, the consequences are dire, worlds are on the line. And never forget about the villain who brought the Justice League together in the first place.
I decided to rate both Trinity War and Forever Evil together because of the minor footprint Trinity War left towards a larger story. Trinity War was the appetizer; Forever Evil was the main course. They go hand-in-hand. Without Forever Evil, you wouldn’t be able to fully appreciate Trinity War. These two stories are part of a larger picture that DC is developing, and right now the future looks bright, even with a major crisis seemingly on the horizon. I recommend any comic reader experience the updated DC, which in some ways is much cooler than Marvel. Leave past feelings aside and focus on the future and the times we live in, and you will have a much better appreciation for the world(s) their building.