Most of the issue is devoted toward telling the detailed origins of the villainous Ultraman - Superman's evil counterpart from the parallel Earth Three. Alert fans will note that this story is largely identical to the origins of Superman as depicted in Johns' own Superman: Secret Origin, with a little bit of Grant Morrison's Earth 2 thrown in for good measure. We see Jor-Il (gedit?) fighting the equally evil masses of Krypton over the last escape pod off their world and The Kents as opportunistic drug addicts rather than as good and decent farmers.
If this sounds bleakly depressing, it should. Johns goes over the top in showcasing what a miserable a place Earth Three is and in establishing Ultraman as a conscienceless rapist and murderer. The whole affair is technically well-written yet seems drab and dull in spite of that. Most readers are already familiar with this story and discussing the details of how Superman and Ultraman's backgrounds differ, while undoubtedly a fun intellectual exercise for comic geeks, makes for a dull story.
Johns almost manages to salvage this affair with the eleventh-hour arrival of an unexpected hero. Fans of Johns' excellent JSA run will appreciate this sequence and it is a good, old-fashioned superhero fight. And yet, it is not enough to forgive the monotony of the early parts of the book.
The artwork is similarly mixed. Ivan Reis' pencils are excellent as always but this book proves that an inker can make or break your artwork. Three different inkers worked on this book and the differences in their styles are obvious. The Krypton sequences are under-inked. The sequences where Ultraman terrorizes the staff of The Daily Planet are over-inked. A few pages manage to be just-right but the credits page annoyingly offers no details as to which inkers are responsible for which pages.
All in all, this book is giving me little reason to continue reading Justice League and further reinforcing my opinion that skipping Forever Evil was a good idea. With an uneven and overly familiar story backed by confoundedly inked artwork, there is little to recommend this book.
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