Today, the comic industry celebrates the release of the opening chapters of Forever Evil, DC's newest event, and Battle of the Atom, the latest X-Men crossover, as well as the second (or fourth chapter, if you count tie-ins) of Infinity, Marvel's other big event.
Luckily, the Outhouse is here to help navigate this barrage of event comics, with handy mini-reviews to tell you which books to pick up, and which books to pass on.
You'll like this book if: You like Geoff Johns events, or Ted Kord references.
You'll dislike this book if: You want resolution from DC's last big event.
Tell me if you've read this Geoff Johns event before. We start off with a protagonist being affected by a cataclysmic, worldwide threat, before panning out to show how the rest of the world reacts. A few plot points are introduced that will be expounded upon in tie-ins. And by the end, a hero is sacrificed in the opening issue to show how bad the vilains are. It's how Johns opened Infinite Crisis, it's how he opened Blackest Night and now it's the opening to Forever Evil as well.
After a decent opening scene with a little wink towards fans of a certain Blue Beetle, Johns sticks to a well-worn outline to start off his new Forever Evil event. While the book doesn't resolve Trinity War's cliffhanger ending, it's clear that the Crime Syndicate of America is in charge and wreaking havoc upon the world, which will be followed up in several DC books next month. While the stakes introduced by Johns in this issue are high, there's a genericism to the book, due mainly to Johns treading a familiar plot and his weak dialogue. Whereas Johns used to craft unique voices for the large casts of his various books, most of the villains feel replaceable in Trinity War. It's a problem that plagued Trinity War as well, one that prevents either event from being truely extraordinary.
Artwise, David Finch still draws like David Finch. I counted at least two cases of jello spine syndrome, but otherwise, it's alright art. I'm not a fan, but your own mileage will vary based on past experiences.
Overall, this book is very much a known quality. If you're a fan of DC's current output (if you are, why are you reading our site!), or like Johns' other events, I don't see why you wouldn't like Forever Evil.
You'll like this book if: You're reading Avengers and New Avengers right now, or enjoy comics with the pacing of a jackrabbit.
You'll dislike this book if: You don't see the appeal of the Inhumans, or think "big" events should be expounded upon.
The main Infinity comic is a outline of plot points with pretty art attached. Infinity #2 opens with brief recaps of the latest issues of Avengers and New Avengers and doesn't slow down much from there. While people often rib Marvel for its decompressed events, this book is almost hypercompressed. So much happens in the issue, it's hard to care about any of it. Epic wars are waged, ultimatums are issued and planets die in a few pages, all in the blink of an eye.
Jerome Opena and Dustin Weaver's pencils are a noticeable stepdown in this issue. Weaver's artwork features characters with bulbous heads, and disproportionate limbs while Opena's art is hurt mainly by drab color choices that makes entire pages look as if they were covered with a thin layer of dust.
I didn't like the opening chapter, and the second (or fourth if you count tie-ins) is just as much of a disappointment. It does have a nifty, if understated, cliffhanger, though. I have a feeling Infinity will be one of those events where the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts.
Battle of the Atom
You'll like this book if: You like the current X-books, or you enjoy well-crafted superhero stories.
You'll dislike this book if: You dislike Jean Grey, time travel stories, or how dysfunctional the X-books are.
Had Marvel chosen to release just the first chapter of Battle of the Atom today, I'd probably be comparing it to Forever Evil and not in a positive way. Luckily for readers, Marvel put out both Battle of the Atom #1 and All New X-Men #16 simultaneously, giving readers a double dose of yet another superlative X-Men event. Just like last fall's All New X-Men#1, Battle of the Atom #1 sets up the basic premise of the story. The original X-Men tempt fate in a deadly battle against Sentinels, leading the present X-Men and a new team of future X-Men to try to send them home. The second chapter introduces the future team a bit further and then introduces a new wrinkle to the plot, which will probably lead to more conflict.
In the opening chapters, both written by Brian Bendis, characterization reigns supreme. From Kitty Pryde to Scott Summers to a mercifully brief dose of Deadpool, each character has a unique voice and motivation, turning a relatively simple time travel plot into a joy to read. At the center of the story is Jean Grey, whom Bendis has built up into a fresh and exciting character over his All New X-Men series. Bendis' Grey is a far cry from her older, near perfect self, and it's fantastic. Also, seeing Cyclops' Uncanny X-Men team team up with another X-Men team without reminding readers of the travesty that was Avengers vs. X-Men is a delight. Modern Cyclops and Kitty Pryde's brief interaction is joyously free of angst and anger.
Frank Cho's art is, as always phenomenal. Stuart Immonen's art felt a bit rushed in the second chapter, but is still heads above most of his peers.
Unless you hate the X-Men, this is probably the event of the summer. The X-Books have generally excelled at crossovers, and this appears to be no exception.
To Sum Up: Fans of good comics should pick up Battle of the Atom, fans of safe comics should pick up Forever Evil and fans of emotionless strings of plot points should pick up Infinity.