Consume the darkness.
This issue deals more with victimization issues than out-and-out battles between the two teams over who gets power ring. And yet manages to remain engaging.
I love issues like this, which show the more human side of the characters who are otherwise engaging in fists and blows.
And the Batman-Luthor interplay, despite my reservations about the knowledge that Luthor has now, is priceless.
Johns also includes some tidbits of the threat of the anti-monitor, giving us a tease of what is to come but not letting it overwhelm the main story.
Manke’s artwork is still not to his usual standard, as his facials are a little wonky, but when the emotional beats comes, he nails them.
Luthor tries to stop Niles Caulder from getting the power ring and Jessica Cruz while the Justice League confronts the Doom Patrol.
Interestingly, the conflict is more physiological than physical. Rita Farr crumbles apart when Batman fails to recognize her wile Larry aka Negative Man has a death wish as he stands ready to be pierced by Aquaman’s trident.
Only Robotman is giving a fight, as even Element Woman is more confused and angry than overly aggressive.
Lex and Niles have an engaging interplay, as Luthor reveals he has hacked into Niles’ files and found the previous experiments, including two live ones who are now hiding (is Tempest the same one as in the pre-New 52?).
Both appear to be a little self-delusional as Niles asserts he’s a therapist for broken people while Lex believes that everything he’s doing is to save the world. Even as they try to one-up each other, it is Batman who finally solves the issue.
I love it when Batman is able to showcase himself like this. It reminds me of why Robin exists in his world, as he helps Jessica overcome her fear by acknowledging it rather than hiding from it. No batarangs or fancy gadgets, just good advice coming from an empathetic source.
Power Ring’s failed attempt to covert Jessica causes a side effect in that the Anti-Monitor is able to finally see the world where the Syndicate escaped to (anyone else getting a strong Galactus vibe here?) and proceeds to ‘consume’ it.
With the Doom Patrol apparently under A.R.G.U.S. protection and Jessica now able to silence the ring, the issue is what to make of Lex Luthor. Batman proposes to keep him in the League, under their watch so that even as he gains access to League files, they can obtain LexCorp information.
Welcome to the Watchtower, Lexy.
With some excellent cerebral conflict, Johns ends the first post-Forever Evil arc on a bang, as new team mates arrive alongside new threats.
As I said before, Manke underperforms badly. His Batman is good, but those with exposed faces come off bad.
So, I give it 8.5 out of 10.
+An unexpected yet delightful ending
+Excellent cerebral conflicts
+Nice use of themes of victimization
-Manke is really poor here
-Still not comfortable with the new Luthor-Batman status quo