DC readers get plenty of bad guy on bad guy action in "Forever Evil" #5 as Geoff Johns and David Finch continue their exploration into what "evil" truly means in the minds of inhabitants of the DC Universe. The Justice League is apparently still missing and the Crime Syndicate retains its stranglehold on the Earth. In this issue, however, the resistance to the Syndicate begins to solidify which leads to some big-time fights.
Johns goes the big wow moments and delivers fun, rousing fights that will satisfy some fans, but more assuredly inspire further discussion regarding some of the matchups and outcomes. Lex Luthor's degenerate Superman clone, Bizarro, takes on Blockbuster; Power Ring flees the wrath of Sinestro; and Luthor finds himself at the business end of Deathstroke's gun as the assassin calls out the apparent lack of intelligence Luthor sacrificed in his quest for vanity by leaving his face exposed in his purple and green battlesuit. Naturally, with wild matchups like that, five issues into a seven-issue series, things start to shift a bit. There are a few casualties and a character shifts allegiance from being a lapdog for the Syndicate to fighting alongside Luthor's "Injustice League." None of the fights are overly surprising in the result or method of the outcome, but Johns manages to keep them entertaining. Batman's role at the conclusion of "Forever Evil" #5 is unexpected and almost comical, save for the continuously mounting odds against happier days ahead.
Rob Leigh delivers one of the greatest lettering efforts I have seen in recent comics. There is absolutely no shortage of variety to the characters in this issue and as such, Leigh brings a wide array of diversity to the lettering. In addition to the now-familiar word balloons for Grid and Power Ring, Leigh also provides spot-on choices for a variety of voices from Giganta's booming behemoth-sized bellowing to the twisted tone of Power Ring's ring to the coldness of Shadow Thief and processed preaching from Black Manta. Frequently lettering is hot and cold, or seems to be, but Leigh is consistent throughout this issue and tremendously observant of how best to frame the characters and their conditions.
Finch's effort in "Forever Evil" #5 is filled with decent art, not his greatest work, not by a long shot. His characters all seem to be built on the same frame and pretty much carry themselves identically, with few exceptions, like Copperhead, Giganta and Bizarro. The artist makes some weird framing choices that seem well-intentioned, but just aren't polished enough, like the back of Batman's inclined head splitting with Luthor's condescending face looking down at the reader. A great deal of the art seems fuzzy, as though Finch drew it at a different size and enlarged it to fill spaces, which is only accentuated by the jagged nature of the composition for quite a few pages where Finch treats panels like photos on a tabletop. It can add energy, but when it gets overused (like here) it becomes a distraction, sapping power from the stories IN the panels.
"Forever Evil" #5 turns a corner in the story and also gives readers some crazy fights. It's a decent transition issue that doesn't feel like it's wasting time or shuffling in place, but instead begins to make small moves across the board, setting up the final conflict and (hopefully) the resolution to DC's crossover event. Lex Luthor is throwing down the gauntlet and making a run at reclaiming the Earth, just as the Crime Syndicate is beginning to fracture. With two issues left, Johns has saved plenty of drama, but at least he delivers some fun action scenes here.