Both of these books shipped this week, so let's take a look at how the comics Geoff Johns is writing at the moment turned out.
|Ivan Reis drew this image.|
This issue follows up on he few post-Forever Evil plot points introduced in the previous issue of this series: 1) Power Ring's power ring, which fled from his body after Sinestro buzz-sawed his arm off and then incinerated the Earth-3 version of Hal Jordan, has approached an Earth-1 lady named Jessica Cruz and offered itself to her ring finger, and 2) Lex Luthor wants to join the Justice League since him and his villain bros saved the world from the Crime Syndicate and, since the Justice League is all no way dude, he goes to Bruce Wayne's house to tell him he knows he's totally Batman.
Now, despite everything else that might have happened in Forever Evil, up to and including the introduction of The New 52 Anti-Monitor, the biggest Oh no they di'nt! moment came quite early on, when The Syndicate captured Nightwing and then unmasked him and told everyone everywhere on Earth that he was really Dick Grayson (not just people who happened to be watching TV; literally everyone, as they hacked every electronic device with a sound and/or speaker in order to broadcast this information).
What was shocking about this is that Dick Grayson is either the adopted son or the ward (not sure which, in the current continuity) of Gotham City billionaire philanthropist celebrity Bruce Wayne, a man who had previously given a news conference to announce that he was Batman's financier (which is still in continuity, according to "Death of the Family" in Batman and Batman Eternal, so don't give me that!).
So, with Grayson outted as a Gotham City vigilante and long-time Batman associate, it shouldn't take too much thinking to develop a theory that Bruce Wayne, who disappeared for years only to return to Gotham City about the same time The Batman first appeared, is probably Batman. Maybe not enough evidence to hold up in a court of law, as it would likely be mostly circumstantial, but, if nothing else, everyone with a pulse in the DC Universe should strongly suspect that Batman is secretly Bruce Wayne under his cape and cowl.
Why then it was presented as a surprise in Forever Evil #7 and the previous issue of Justice League that Luthor knows that Bruce Wayne is really Batman, I can't even imagine.
Let's dispose of the Power Ring business first. "Jessica Cruz of Earth" is in her home, which she hasn't left in four years. Like most paranoid shut-ins who haven't left their houses in four years, Jessica has the fit, firm, slim, sexy body of your average Hollywood actress or professional model, he heair looks great, and she's even wearing make-up and nail polish.
Go ahead, close your eyes and try to imagine the worst Power Ring costume you can.
Now open them.
The League has been tracking Power Ring's power ring, and, when Superman calls to check in with Batman, he tells him "there's just been a detonation of emerald energy" outside of Portland. That's a perfect example of what I love about Johns; he had Superman say "emerald energy" instead of "green energy." That's awesome and dumb at the same time (particularly so given the New 52 DCU's feint toward "realism," as seen in the costumes Superman and Wonder Woman are wearing during the scene where Superman says "emerald energy").
The ring, which repeatedly refers to Jessica as "my puppet" is apparently burning down her apartment building, and summoning scary, demonic-looking energy constructs that are eating emergency responders. And that's where the Doom Patrol comes in:
I'm pretty sure this is Geoff Johns' second Doom Patrol, following one that appeared in this Teen Titans run (all of these guys, plus Beast Boy, Bumblebee and Herald-with-a-new-codename Vox).
Wayne has invited Luthor into the room where he keeps his secret entrance to the Batcave in order to convince him that he's not Batman. Bruce sips on a steaming mug of what must be either coffee or hot cocoa (I can't imagine Alfred serving tea out of a coffee mug instead of a tea cup), while Luthor sips an amber-ish liquid from a tumbler with a few ice cubes.
(An aside: Do you know exactly when Lex realized Batman was probably Bruce Wayne? It was in the headquarters of the Crime Syndicate, after Lex had stopped Dick Grayson's heart, diffused the bomb wired into it, and then re-started his heart, saving his life, and he saw how genuinely concerned for Dick Batman was. By the way, did you know that means that Lex Luthor and Catwoman, who were in the room at the same time as Batman when this all happened, know that Dick isn't dead, and yet, according to the last issue of Nightwing, Batman is keeping that secret from Alfred and, apparently, the rest of the Bat-family. He doesn't trust his closest allies and confidants with the fact that Dick is still alive, but Luthor, Catwoman, supervillain Owlman and sundry Justice Leaguers all know that he is. That's kind of weird, isn't it?)
So anyway, Luthor pulls a gun on Bruce Wayne, saying he plans to prove he's Batman, and noting that he felt a slight draft in the room, and smelled stale air. Then Alfred puts a gun to Lex's head. But Lex, using his cat-like reflexes, grabs Alfred's wrist, and pushes the gun away from his temple.
And then, to protect his secret identity as Batman, Bruce Wayne leaps off of a chair and hits Luthor in the sternum with a flying roundhouse kick.
|Bruce Wayne, carefully concealing his secret identity.|
Luthor fires a round of his "exploding ammunition" at the clock, blowing it up and revealing a stairway. "I'm guessing that doesn't lead to the wine cellar," he says.
"Once Nightwing's identity of Richard Grayson was exposed by the Crime Syndicate, I simply followed the long and murky trail," Lex tells Bruce. "Long murky trail" is a kind of odd way to put the, let's see, one point of separation between Nightwing/Grayson and Bruce Wayne. It is six times more difficult to link Kevin Bacon to any other actor in Hollywood than it is to link Dick Grayson to Batman.
Lex tells Bruce he has no intention of blackmailing him, he only wants to join the Justice League so he can help them prepare for the coming threat that so frightened the Crime Syndicate (i.e. The Anti-Monitor, although Luthor and Batman aren't privy to that, since they didn't read the last page of Forever Evil like we did).
Batman responds by telling Luthor the story of the fable of the scorpion and the frog, but his version includes a violent bat that swoops in to destroy the scorpion before it can sting the frog. Oh Bruce, you add bats to everything!
There are two other scenes between these major threads. In one, Captain Cold visits Lexcorp HQ for a physical, as he is apparently going to join the Justice League with Luthor, as the covers of the past two issues—and a splash page in #30—make clear. That's three pages.
In the other, new recruit
And in a blast of mystical lighting, a ping pong table appears, which is "funny" because he just said on the previous page that the League's new satellite HQ could use a ping pong table.