Forever Evil: A.R.G.U.S. #1 Review: Flatlined

** SPOILERS AHEAD, TRUE BELIEVERS! **

Forever Evil: A.R.G.U.S. is the last of the three event-branded mini-series to launch, but it’s also the most pertinent—and arguably most important—tie-in so far. DC has gone to great lengths to make the Advanced Research Group Uniting Superhumans an integral part of the New 52: Agent Steve Trevor has been present in most issue of Justice League as a liaison to the League and Wonder Woman’s first boyfriend, they created their own version of the Justice League made up of heroes who could actually hold their own against the League proper, and Justice League of America’s Vibe is all about the inner workings of this clandestine organization through the lens of a superpowered kid who struggles to accept that his life has changed forever.

Forever Evil: A.R.G.U.S. #1 focuses solely on this DC equivalent of S.H.I.E.L.D. While most of the story is about Trevor and his agents after the events of Forever Evil #1, readers also get a look back at the history of A.R.G.U.S. and how it came into being.

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POSITIVES

Matt Kindt was originally solicited as the writer for A.R.G.U.S., but his increasingly busy schedule meant he had to hand the reigns to Sterling Gates, the regular writer for JLA’s Vibe. Kindt is an excellent writer, but Gates writes Vibe, which is all about A.R.G.U.S., so it makes sense that he’d be the one to take over. Because Gates already knows the material and the characters so well, A.R.G.U.S. feels like the most organic of the three tie-in mini-series.

Forever Evil: Arkham War and Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion both seem a bit contrived in that both titles took a lot of expositional liberties to establish the status quo going forward. A.R.G.U.S. #1, on the other hand, makes the most sense because the organization deals directly with superhuman threats anyway.

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NEGATIVES

That being said, A.R.G.U.S. #1 is quite boring. At the beginning, there’s an enigmatic conversation between two off-panel people discussing the destruction of A.R.G.U.S. through political manipulation. Gates reveals later in the issue that A.R.G.U.S.’s activities and undercover operatives have been made public, causing a rash of agent murders at the hands of some of the worst villains across the globe.

This plot point is supposed to be the emotional core of the issue, but unfortunately, it comes off as cheap and unmotivated. Even from a purely emotional perspective, it’s hard to relate to the A.R.G.U.S. agents flatlining (as Gates so eloquently words it throughout the issue) when they’ve never been introduced before and provide no emotional resonance.

In theory, giving a personal history of Steve Trevor probably sounded great as the B-story for A.R.G.U.S., but in practice, it’s mundane and overdone. Is a Forever Evil tie-in series really the appropriate place to delve into Steve’s romantic history with Wonder Woman? Why is Steve and Diana’s relationship being highlighted even though it’s long over, especially since DC seems dedicated to the Superman-Wonder Woman coupling everywhere else?

While the bits of flashback about Steve meeting with President Barack Obama were indeed interesting, that sequence is completely overshadowed by how sluggish the rest of this A.R.G.U.S. history lesson is.

 

VERDICT: rating2outof52/5

 

Forever Evil: A.R.G.U.S. #1 is a necessary, but tedious read. Steve Trevor and A.R.G.U.S.’s activities in the wake of the Crime Syndicate’s invasion prove to be the most interesting aspect of the story, but the entire issue is weighed down by unneeded backstory concerning Steve and Wonder Woman.

  • Justin Reed

    I gave it a 3 out of 5 just for the villains at the end and the setup for the rest of this series.