For starters, the Secret Society is barely glimpsed in this book. Amazo and Copperhead make only the most fleeting of appearances. This book should probably have been called ‘Outsider’ #1 or ‘Owlman’ #1, since they are the true focus. But aside from that…
In this issue, we get a look back at Earth 3, the crime-infested world ruled by the Crime Syndicate. Specifically, the book is narrated by The Outsider, this world’s Alfred Pennyworth. We discover his “origin” as to why he has the chalky white skin and his interesting speech pattern, punctuated by chuckles. We get vague references to his connection to Thomas Wayne, this world’s Owlman, the corrupt version of Batman. We also learn of Talon, this world’s Dick Grayson. Owlman and Talon actually make a perfectly logical parallel with the “Court of Owls” story in the regular Batman books.
The book opens with a scene that helps set the stage for what we’re about to discover about this world, as evil versions of Harvey Bullock and, I believe, Renee Montoya stick up a family in a sequence that mimics the origin of Batman, but with a dark twist.
The book then jumps into the main story which features Owlman taking on his greatest opponent.
If I must complain about anything, it’s that everything is so vague here. Alfred and Owlman talk around subjects, but very little secrets are exposed. There are vague references to the deaths of parents and to Barbara Gordon and even Bruce Wayne, but frustratingly little is spelled out. Maybe that’s all to come. Maybe the reader is expected to connect the dots. If so, I feel dumb because I don’t really know what it all meant.
The art by Szymon Kudranski doesn’t help either. It’s not unattractive, but it’s very shadowy and dark and there were a few moments I where I wasn’t sure what I was looking at.
Hopefully, more will be revealed in ‘Forever Evil’ #2. As atmospheric and intriguing as this book was, it was also so vague it left me more than a little unsatisfied. I’m sure ultimately, it will provide an important piece of the puzzle for as for right now, I think I have more questions now than when I started reading it.
JUSTICE LEAGUE #23.4/SECRET SOCIETY #1
Written by Geoff Johns and Sterling Gates
Art by Szymon Kudranski
Cover by Mikel Janin