The Justice League is missing, presumed dead, and doppelgängers from a dark parallel universe have stormed in to conquer the Earth. Two issues in to "Forever Evil," Nightwing has been unmasked as Dick Grayson, the Crime Syndicate has DC Comics' greatest villains doing its bidding, and Lex Luthor may be the last man standing against the subjugation of Earth.
Brian Buccellato, Artists Joe Prado and David Finch, writer Ray Fawkes, and moderator VP - Marketing John Cunningham were on hand at New York Comic Con to talk with fans about their corners of the "Forever Evil" event, discussing the story so far and hinting at what may be to come.
"I'm having an absolute blast," Finch said of drawing the main "Forever Evil" book. He described the villains as having a bit more range than the heroes, allowing him to go bigger. "When we're doing a story where we really break things, that's where things happen and where the real fun comes from."
Finch said writer Geoff Johns gave him "a lengthy description" of each character before they began working. He said that he sketched out designs while speaking with Johns on visual chat. "There are some tears in Owl Man's cape, which was important to Geoff for his own reasons," Finch said by way of example.
"I get one issue at a time and I don't know what's coming next," Finch said. "And I get the script and I'm like, whoa, we're going to do that?"
On the Power Ring and Deathstorm relationship, he said that Power Ring "is the most clearly opposite" of his heroic number, a man who is "possessed by fear" and just wants the ring off. Deathstorm, meanwhile, "doesn't really care about him at all, he just wants to see what happens."
Prado described the cover to "Justice League" #24, which he inked, as "a direct rip-off" of Jim Lee's cover to #1, "and it's what we were told to do." He said Ivan Reis "drew it in about 2 hours," in which time he captured the all of the Crime Syndicate villains' personalities.
Fawkes said the upcoming "Justice League Canada" would see "justice dispensed, Canadian style." He added that, in "Justice League Dark" and "Constantine," John Constantine "is one of the few heroes who escapes the wrath of the Crime Syndicate at the end of 'Trinity War,'" but will soon be "joining the bad guys." "You will see him committing some very serious crimes, and we'll see a big change in how the world views John Constantine." But, of course, "it's all in service of this long term plan that he's got."
"Trinity of Sin: Pandora" will see "the woman once blamed for releasing evil into the world faced with a new situation of great evil," Fawkes said, with her series tying into "Forever Evil: Blight."
Next, Buccellato spoke about "Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion." "They don't see themselves as villains and they certainly don't want to take over the world," he said. "They get tasked with something they don't want to do, and they say no, so they incur the wrath of those really nasty Justice League people." And "something really bad happens to Captain Cold."
"Forever Evil: A.R.G.U.S." rounds out the tie-ins and stars Steve Trevor, whom Fawkes described as "one of the unexpectedly cool heroes of the New 52."
"Geoff [Johns] is the spiritual leader of these tie-in books," Fawkes said, providing the groundwork, but otherwise allows the writers and artists to tell their own stories rather than feeding them plot points.
"It's been quite fun," Buccellato said. "I think what's great about Geoff is he takes a moment and turns it into an event."
"The Rogues do fit in with 'Forever Evil,' so I have to fit what I'm doing around what's going on in his series. Because Captain Cold has a big role in 'Forever Evil,' so at some point he gets separated from the group," Buccellato said.
Buccellato also mentioned that Johns will sometimes sketch out a page to solve a problem. "You ask him, well, how am I going to do this? and he'll start drawing, 'you can do this here, and in this panel, and this can be silent,' and I'm like, thanks, you just wrote that page for me!"
Fawkes said the Justice League Dark will be dealing with the fallout of the rip that brought the Crime Syndicate to the main DCU, for which they will have to "venture into the collective unconscious of the DC Universe," though Constantine views their efforts as "sticking their fingers in the hole in a dam."
At this point the floor was opened to fan questions.
Fawkes said the Question will play a role in "Forever Evil: Blight," but as to who he is, "even the Question doesn't know who he is."
Speaking of the aftermath of "Forever Evil," Fawkes said that "this will have massive effects—this will not be something where the heroes say, 'well, we handled this situation tidily.'" "There will be massive psychological consequences," he added.
Asked about comparisons between the Rogues and Batman's villains, Buccellato said the Rogues are "a family of thieves," while the Arkham crew have a different objective. "There is a bit of interaction between the two [in 'Rogues Rebellion'] and it won't be friendly."
"Once they rebel, they are real repercussion," Buccellato said of the Rogues in response to a later question. They will be both on the run and trying to mount a last stand.
Asked about his favorite characters to draw between the heroes and Crime Syndicate villains, Finch said, "Batman's just the most fun character to draw." But he also said drawing Ultraman and having the chance to play with an evil Superman was a lot of fun, too.
Finch confessed that, in drawing a lot of characters, "it's a lot of making mistakes with costumes and getting caught."
"When Ivan makes a mistake with a costume, I fix it," Prado joked.
For Buccellato, speaking from the writing standpoint, "every character has something they want, so it doesn't matter if there's one main character or five."
"It's really refreshing to pull in characters with another distinct voice," Fawkes said of getting to write characters he doesn't usually work with. "It's like getting to play with someone else's toys."
A fan asked about the rumor that Booster Gold will be Canadian and appear in "Justice League Canada." "Next time you see Jeff Lemire, ask him," Fawkes said. Fellow Canadian Finch added, "I don't know what happens in that series, or who's in it--I can't wait to find out!"
Asked about the possibility of major villains banding together to take over the world after "Forever Evil," Fawkes said, "I don't know if I can answer that because I don't know how many of those guys are going to survive 'Forever Evil.'"
As to whether Ted Kord would return, Cunningham said, "Next question?"
Asked whether the pre-New 52 characters could coexist with the new versions in the New 52, Buccellato said, "No, because 'Flashpoint' happened--that stuff is gone."
Buccellato said he'd love to see an ongoing Rogues series, and the best way to encourage that would be to read "Rogues Rebellion" to demonstrate there's an audience for the series.
On the subject of working with Geoff Johns, Fawkes said, "what's really important to him is the emotional moment." Buccellato added that when Johns says "what's the story?" he's actually asking "what's that thing that will resonate." And, of course, "he knows all the characters," which comes in handy in a jam—"just ask Geoff."