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Sidelines: 10: Forever Evil: Justice League issues 27-29

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In late 2013, DC Comics began its biggest event thus far: Forever Evil, an event where the Justice League was defeated by the Crime Syndicate, an alternate version of the Justice League. During the event, the Justice League, except for Batman and Cyborg, disappeared and thus the fate of the Earth was not in the hands of the heroes, but a select group of villains lead by Lex Luthor and with Batman along for the ride. In my opinion, the event was probably one of the best event comics that has come out in recent years. In contrast to many Marvel events, which have basically boiled down to… Heroes fighting Heroes, this was villains vs villains. And while there were still superheroes around, it was the villains that had the focus. And while some may not have liked this idea, I did. Especially for the focus on Lex Luthor which really gave us a good look in his head.

However, it was not without its flaws. Most of the villain tie-ins were so-so in terms of quality and there was a delay on the final issue which kinda hurt the comic’s story. But in the end we got a good event with a couple of sub-miniseries, one of which focused on the Central City Rogues. But we are not here to talk about them. We are here to talk about Cyborg and his taking down the evil sentient machine known as The Grid.

Prior to Forever Evil, there was an 11 issue crossover called Trinity War which was a crossover of Justice League, Justice League Dark, and Justice League of America. At the end of the event, the Crime Syndicate of America arrived, Cyborg’s machine parts, in thanks the Syndicate member Atomica, gained sentience and forcefully separated from Victor’s body, leaving him… Well a one eyed torso.

Synopsis:

Issue 27 begins with the Crime Syndicate’s Johnny Quick and his girlfriend Atomica fighting and killing two members of the Doom Patrol, Scorch and Karma. We cut to STAR Labs where Victor Stone, the former Cyborg, now an armless torso and head, is being cared for by his father, Silas Stone, and his colleague T.O. Morrow. Victor wants to be remade into a cyborg, but Silas refuses. He does not want to do to his son what he did before. Victor tells him that only he can take down The Grid and restore communications between the heroes. And he will do with with just a normal cybernetic body. One that is unplugged from the internet so the Grid cannot hack into it. Silas refuses, but Vic asserts that this time he is choosing to become a cyborg.

With the help of some off the record parts from a secret room in the lab, Vic is reborn as Cyborg 2.0, with a new sleeker, less bulkier body with the words “Made in Detroit” so he can “Remember where I’m from”. Father and son share a tender moment of understanding that shows that while there may be tension between them, both of them are moving past their problems and making peace. Victor is sent to find the one other person who may be able to help him: Will Magnus, the creator of the Metal Men.

Vic tracks Magnus down, who in this new continuity is a young inventor. However, Magnus claims that he cannot help him.

Issue 28 explains the origin of the Metal Men. Magnus was hired by the government to create robots that could be used for military purposes. Until the Responsometers he created to give the various molten metals life actually created sentient and intelligent beings that called themselves the Metal Men. Each with their own distinct personality and feelings. Platinum, Iron, Tin, Lead, Gold, and Mercury. When the Metal Men discovered that they were to be used for military purposes, they ran away.

The birth of heroes.

The birth of heroes.

Later, an unknown figure, using a stolen responsometer, creates the Metal Men’s long time foe… Chemo, a living chemical beast.

They eventually ended up in Will Magnus’ home where he explained that he never intended for them to become weapons. They believe him, but before the reunion can last, they are attacked by Chemo. After taking the battle outside and clearing the area of civilians, the Metal Men dive into Chemo, the metals that make up their bodies rendering both them and the chemicals inert.

Magnus states that he was heartbroken by their loss and Vic deduces that he has had the means to revive the Metal Men, but won’t because he is afraid of losing such selfless and kind beings again. However, he convinces Will, who agrees, that the Metal Men would want to save the world, even if there was risk to themselves.

One at a time, kids. One at a time.

One at a time, kids. One at a time.

Issue 29 opens with the revival of the Metal Men, who gaze in awe at Vic, or in Mercury’s case, suspicion mixed with envy. The Metal Men make peace with Will. Vic explains the mission to take down The Grid and the risks involved. The Metal Men happily accept the risks as this is what they were designed for.

Vic remembers how Atomica betrayed the team and created the Grid in the process. They track down the Grid and they tell Will that he should get to cover, but he refuses, stating that this time he stands with them. Vic sends a message to Grid calling him out for a fight.

Grid arrives and the Metal Men and Cyborg engage him in battle. Although they seem to gain the upper hand at first, Mercury is taken out of the fight and Grid calls upon reinforcements from the Secret Society of Super Villains. The Metal Men engage and take down the reinforcements while Cyborg goes Mano e Mano with Grid. Grid attempts to hack Victor where the battle goes into Vic’s mind. Grid attempts to psych Vic out and monologues on and on. Vic shrugs it off and declares “Human. Tech. I don’t choose sides, Grid. I am the bridge between them. I am a Cyborg!” He declares that Grid is a virus with delusions of grandeur and traps him in his own body and cuts off his connection to the outside world, effectively taking him offline.

Cyborg: Half-Man, Half-Machine, All BAMF.

Cyborg: Half-Man, Half-Machine, All BAMF.

Steve Trevor shows up with Wonder Woman’s lasso, intending to use it to try and retrieve the Justice League from within Firestorm. However, he is knocked out by more villains and the Metal Men fight them off while Cyborg goes to meet up with Batman and save the Justice League, ending the three parter.

Final analysis:

These three comics are great, both as a character piece for Cyborg and as an introduction to the New 52 versions of the Metal Men. I have to admit something: When Justice League was first announced, I was excited. But when I saw the first story arc and how basic it was, I was disappointed. I expected more from Geoff Johns and I disliked the characters, especially Hal Jordan. Cyborg was considered by many, and me, to be superfluous and basically there to be the token black guy. I considered it the worst comic of the New 52 and the worst comic Geoff Johns ever wrote. This three parter did something amazing: It made me want to read more JL and it made me understand why Cyborg was a Leaguer now.

Geoff Johns always did his best work with characters that were unknowns or underdeveloped by other writers and he does that here with Cyborg. With the spotlight on Vic Stone, he is able to breathe life back into a character who, for the longest time, was really just there. Here we see him embrace his place as the bridge between man and machine. Here we see him make peace with his father after a rocky relationship caused by his dad turning Vic into a cyborg. Here we see him do battle with his evil opposite in the Grid. Here we see him become his own character. It was a breath of fresh air to see Vic have a big hero moment with his conquest of the Grid.

I also need to discuss the Metal Men. While some people might consider them intrusive into Vic’s story, I do not. Honestly they were fun to read and you really got to sympathize with them and their desire to help especially in how human they are. It’s refreshing to see Robots that do not want to take over the world because humans are obsolete and blah blah blah. They are great characters and this three parter would work as a back door pilot for a comic of their adventures with Will Magnus.

I talked about Ivan Reis in my Aquaman review and he is still a fantastic artist and works for issues 27 and 28. Doug Mahnke took over for issue 29 and honestly it wasn’t as “eh” as I remember it to be. He’s improved on the eyes front and I liked his work on Vic’s mind during the final battle. In all, the art was good and I liked it.

Overall, if you aren’t interested in the main event, this tie in story arc is great and I recommend it to anyone who thinks that Geoff Johns’ work has declined in recent years.