‘Forever Evil’ No. 2: Geoff Johns talks Nightwing, Teen Titans

Sept. 30, 2013 | 9:00 a.m.

Page 8 of "Forever Evil" No. 1, written by Geoff Johns with art by David Finch and Richard Friend. (DC Comics)

Page 9 of "Forever Evil" No. 1, written by Geoff Johns with art by David Finch and Richard Friend. (DC Comics)

Page 10 of "Forever Evil" No. 1, written by Geoff Johns with art by David Finch and Richard Friend. (DC Comics)

Page 11 of "Forever Evil" No. 1, written by Geoff Johns with art by David Finch and Richard Friend. (DC Comics)

Page 12 of "Forever Evil" No. 1, written by Geoff Johns with art by David Finch and Richard Friend. (DC Comics)

[Spoiler warning: This post, a preview of “Forever Evil” No. 2, includes discussion of a major event from “Forever Evil” No. 1.]

The Crime Syndicate wasted no time in announcing its presence and power to the villains of DC Comics’ familiar Earth.

In “Forever Evil” No. 1, the recently arrived group of wicked, parallel reality Justice League counterparts declared “This world is ours” and assembled their new planet’s greatest rogues, tossing into the crowd relics of the absent heroes: Superman’s tattered cape, Aquaman’s trident, Wonder Woman’s lasso. And then they unmasked Nightwing on live television, revealing him to the world as Dick Grayson.

Cover for "Forever Evil" No. 2. (David Finch and Richard Friend / DC Comics)

A cover for “Forever Evil” No. 2 shows Ultraman , Johnny Quick and Superwoman standing over beaten Teen Titans. (David Finch and Richard Friend / DC Comics)

It’s a psychological blow to the world’s remaining heroes, says “Forever Evil” writer and DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, comparing what the Crime Syndicate has done to Nightwing to the faith-shaking manipulation of Superman in this DC universe-wide story line’s lead-in “Trinity War” event.

“With the Justice League out of the way, the top of the heap is Nightwing,” Johns told Hero Complex in a phone interview. “Every other hero, in my opinion, looks up to Nightwing…. And I think in some cases, people listen more to Nightwing than they would to Batman, because Nightwing is sincere, and Batman can be a little bit mysterious.”

Dick Grayson was the first Robin, and Nightwing is still part of the Bat-family, so his public identification could have major consequences for other characters. Johns is tight-lipped about what those might be.

One cover for “Forever Evil” No. 2 shows someone in a Batman suit. There’s been much speculation about who that is, and Johns says the answer will be revealed in the new issue, out Wednesday. Hero Complex readers can check out pages from “Forever Evil” No. 1 in the gallery above or by clicking on the links below.

Issue No. 1 Cover | Page 8 | Page 9 | Page 10 | Page 11 | Page 12 | Issue No. 2 Cover

When the Syndicate unmasks Nightwing, Ultraman proclaims, “We will hunt down and destroy everything this Richard Grayson cares about. All who would oppose us – you risk not your lives, but the lives of those you cherish.”

This, Johns says, sends a message to the remaining heroes on Earth that “there are things that are worse than death.”

But don’t expect everyone to back down. In “Forever Evil” No. 2, the Teen Titans try to take on the Crime Syndicate. There would seem to be some natural matchups in that struggle: Superboy and Ultraman, Wonder Girl and Superwoman, Kid Flash and Johnny Quick. But the kids might not be ready for prime time.

“They’re not very prepared,” Johns says. “I think the Titans of the New 52 have a lot to learn, and I think it’s partly illustrated here. But that group is not the New Teen Titans.”

Cover for "Teen Titans" No. 24. (Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira / DC Comics)

Cover for “Teen Titans” No. 24. (Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira / DC Comics)

After “Forever Evil” No. 2, the young team’s story will pick up with the group divided in next month’s “Teen Titans” No. 24 in an event tie-in. Whether Kid Flash and Wonder Girl’s criminal pasts will play into their interactions with the Crime Syndicate and others remains to be seen.

Wednesday’s issue also features Lex Luthor and Bizarro. Readers saw in the latter’s Villains Month one-shot that in the reality of the New 52 he was made by that mad, bald billionaire genius. But the master may not fully grasp his Kryptonian-human hybrid creation.

“Luthor is going to be surprised by Bizarro,” Johns says. “Bizarro is actually much more aware and emotionally present than Luthor could expect.”

And, as Johns discussed with Hero Complex before “Forever Evil” No. 1 came out, Luthor isn’t in lock-step with the Crime Syndicate. In that first issue, Luthor, observing what’s happening to the world, shockingly says, “This is a job for Superman.” In No. 2, Johns says, “He’s going through a process of realization that Superman’s not coming.”

Johns’ collaborator on the seven-part “Forever Evil” series is David Finch, and the writer says that in the new issue the artist has delivered a Bizarro that readers will see “emote and act like he’s a real living, breathing person.”

“There’s beautiful shots of the Crime Syndicate in all their glory,” Johns continues. “There’s wonderful shots of the Titans battling the Syndicate. There’s great shots of Luthor in the bowels of Lexcorp. The mood of it and the tone of it is perfect. David’s captured it perfectly for a villains book.”

Nightwing’s unmasking wasn’t the only surprise in Issue 1. Readers are introduced to businessman Thomas Kord, with reference to a son, possibly suggesting a New 52 arrival for Ted Kord, a.k.a. Blue Beetle. And, in the space of a few pages, the obscure villain Monocle makes his New 52 debut and exit, as he’s vaporized by Ultraman.

Asked if he had any words of condolence for any Monocle devotees out there, Johns laughed and said, “If you’re a Monocle fan, someone else can always put on the monocle.”

– Blake Hennon | @BlakeHennon | @LATHeroComplex


A "Forever Evil" No. 1 variant cover by Ivan Reis features Ultraman. (DC Comics)‘Forever Evil’: Geoff Johns, David Finch conspire

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