Too often, massive comic book crossover events backfire and create more animosity amongst readers who become incensed when they’re forced to buy half a dozen or more tie-ins just to get one piece of the bigger puzzle. Just look at DC’s own Infinite Crisis, an event that was sound in it’s own right, but was plagued by weak tie-ins that barely included references to the proverbial end of all existence, including the oft infamously remembered Superman arc, “Sacrifice”, that frustratingly concluded in an issue of Wonder Woman.
Fortunately, Forever Evil is slowly becoming more than just the sum of its parts. Each tie-in issue adds something to the story, but in a way that’s not forceful or inorganic. These tie-ins aren’t necessarily integral to the main storyline, but they add a good bit of depth to the tone and mythos of the event. Justice League #24 is the story of Ultraman, the titular leader of the Crime Syndicate, and the literal antithesis of Superman.
** SPOILERS AHEAD **
By the end of Justice League #24, it’s quite obvious why Geoff Johns wanted to write the Crime Syndicate; the others are interesting, sure, but Ultraman is the star of the show and Johns wants everyone to know. Born on a Krypton that prized strength over all else, Kal-Il was sent to Earth to conquer, not to protect. The eerie parallels Johns finds between Clark Kent’s life and Kal-Il’s succeed in their simplicity. Kal-Il was still raised by John and Marta Kent, but “raised” is a loose word for the two helpless farmers held hostage by an alien child intent on enslaving humanity.
Johns also uses this issue as a way to flesh out the actions of the Crime Syndicate. The evil android Grid begins to have notions of feeling and emotive thoughts, we discover that the moon has to constantly be moved into a new position to prevent the sun from shining through too long, and Johns reveals that Ultraman has just as much baggage attached to discovering a parallel world as any of the other members of the Syndicate. Previously, it seemed like maybe Owlman was the only one with any real hang-ups about the prospects of finding dead or missing allies who might still be around on this Earth. In Justice League #24, though, Ultraman shows his cards and seeks out Jimmy Olsen, only to find this version is a pale comparison to the one from Earth 3.
The arrival of Black Adam at the end of the issue is also a welcome and exciting prospect. Adam is one of the most powerful superhumans not under the Syndicate’s lock and key. He also happens to be (arguably) the most resentful and bitter superhuman around, so it’s bad news for the Ultraman.
There’s not much negative to say about this issue. It’s a lot of fun.
Justice League #24 is not an integral issue to Forever Evil because it was designed that way. Geoff Johns made sure to include enough information and backstory to make it a compelling buy for those interested in knowing everything about Ultraman, but the financially discerning reader more focused on the main series doesn’t necessarily have to own this issue. While this is an odd phenomenon, this suggestion shouldn’t detract from how well this issue is written.