It’s all about Owlman in this Forever Evil tie-in! Ultraman might be the brawn that keeps Earth Prime in check, but it’s Owlman’s brainy calculations and strategy that keeps the Crime Syndicate’s stronghold on the planet so well.
** SPOILERS AHEAD, TRUE BELIEVERS! **
Since Forever Evil #1, fans have been waiting to read the fate of Nightwing after he was de-masked in front of the entire world and revealed to be Dick Grayson. It may have taken two months, but Justice League #25 finally answers many of questions surrounding Nightwing’s kidnapping. To do so, Geoff Johns has to step into Owlman’s past on Earth 3.
Readers discover that Owlman is actually Thomas Wayne Jr., and that little Tommy was the one who murdered his parents and his kid brother, Bruce. This revelation alone makes Justice League #25 one of the best tie-in issues to Forever Evil so far because it represents the trend that Crime Syndicate is a lot more twisted than simply being an overbearing, power-hungry Justice League. Evil is what has made them, and Thomas Jr.’s ruthless execution of his family (with the help of a dedicated butler) might be one of the most disturbing things we’ve seen in the New 52.
Nightwing enters the equation when Owlman grows up and yearns for some semblance of a family he cut down possibly too early. He decides to recruit the son of the acrobatic family that owns Grayson Circus. Thomas Jr. orchestrates the “accidental” deaths of Richard Grayson’s parents and sister before taking him in as his adopted son.
We come to find out that Nightwing on Earth 3 is dead, and that Owlman looks to Dick Grayson (the one we know and love) to be his right-hand-man in his plans to take down a Crime Syndicate that Owlman believes has lost it’s way. Though Owlman is evil through and through, Johns is adding layers to the character to show that even in a world where evil was born, people have compassion for the things they’ve lost.
The artwork is some of Doug Mahnke’s best since he started penciling Justice League. Character facial expressions during “Trinity War” were often stiff and unbelievable, but Mahnke has truly come into his own on this series and it’s starting to show. Thomas and Martha Wayne of Earth 3 both actually look terrified when their son pulls a gun on them, and the gangster that falls into a vat of acid (presumably becoming a fan-favorite, stretchy hero that’s been missing from the New 52) has an expression that screams horror and utter confusion at the same time.
There isn’t much bad to say about this issue. The only minor complaint would be the final page that reveals a game-changing moment for the Crime Syndicate that’s sure to have repercussions going forward. It felt like this sequence should have been part of the Forever Evil main series as opposed to being relegated to a tie-in issue.
In one of the most enjoyable Forever Evil tie-ins so far, Justice League #25 give readers a haunting new way to look at Owlman, answers some long lingering questions about Nightwing’s situation, and brings a plot twist that will change the Crime Syndicate’s game. It’s a fantastic read and a necessary side chapter to the main event.