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"Crisis of Self": In order to prevent a specially rigged bomb from killing everyone in the room, Lex Luthor was forced to stop Dick Grayson's heart. Batman is enraged by this, failing to realize that there is still a chance to

Quote1 I may not be as strong or as powerful as you, Alexander... but I'm smarter. Quote2
Lex Luthor

Forever Evil #7 is an issue of the series Forever Evil (Volume 1) with a cover date of July, 2014. It was published on May 21, 2014.

Synopsis for "Crisis of Self"

In order to prevent a specially rigged bomb from killing everyone in the room, Lex Luthor was forced to stop Dick Grayson's heart. Batman is enraged by this, failing to realize that there is still a chance to save his protégé, and wraps his fists around Lex's neck. Though he knows he should conserve his armour's energy, he discharges an electrical shock into Batman, forcibly removing him from his chest.

Outside the remains of the Justice League Satellite, Ultraman sees the black lightning strike the Watchtower, and realizes with disgust that his prisoner was allowed to speak. That prisoner is Mazahs, and when he realizes that the two men who freed him - Captain Cold and Black Manta - are merely men, he determines that they are useless to him, and leaves them in a flash of lightning.

Lex knows that Batman needs to be on his side right now, and explains that he used a cardioplegia pill to make Dick flatline. Batman understands that the drug paralyzes the muscles around the heart, preventing it from beating - but if Dick doesn't get a shot of adrenaline to jump-start it soon, he will remain dead. Luthor injects the young man, and soon, he coughs back to life. Immediately, Batman hugs his ward, and seeing their example, Bizarro gives Luthor a hug - and Lex is much less receptive.

Suddenly, the door to the chamber blasts open, revealing that Cyborg has beaten Grid. He warns that it's only a matter of time before the Crime Syndicate realizes that Grid is down. In the meantime, though, the rest of the Justice Leagues are still trapped inside the Firestorm Matrix in the satellite's sublevel. He, Batman, Nightwing and Catwoman decide to go after the League while Lex and Bizarro remain to face the Syndicate. Before Batman leaves, Lex offers his hand to shake in good luck. Distracted by his concern for Nightwing, Batman doesn't notice Lex palming his Kryptonite Ring.

Deathstorm meets with Ultraman outside and warns that if their world's Alexander Luthor has called down the black lightning of Mazahs, he'll be channelling the power of those Syndicate members he'd already slaughtered. Ultraman suggests that they might be able to subdue Luthor with the power of Superwoman's Lasso of Submission - but they can't find her. From behind them, she calls out that she is exactly where she's supposed to be. They turn to see her with Mazahs, and she reveals that he is the father of her unborn child. She chose him because he is stronger than Ultraman.

On their way to the sublevel, Batman wonders just what happened to Cyborg, and he explains how he lured Grid out of the Watchtower and took control of his systems before shutting him down. He had since met with Steve Trevor and learned that they might be able to pull the heroes out of Firestorm using the Lasso of Truth and someone with a strong emotional tie to Wonder Woman. Trevor, however, fell unconscious in an attack by the Secret Society. But without him, who will wield the lasso?

Ultraman attacks Mazahs, regretting not killing him when he had the chance. Mazahs responds that Ultraman still needs him to destroy the threat that chased them to this other world - and he will, once he kills the Syndicate. Nearby, Luthor and the rest of his band of villains-turned-hero emerge from the satellite to witness the clashing of titans. As they stand there, they watch as Superwoman captures Deathstorm in her Lasso of Submission and allows Mazahs to crush his head between his hands. The resulting nuclear blast is only prevented from swallowing Luthor and his companions by virtue of Sinestro's ring. Now, Mazahs has Deathstorm's power too.

Back inside the Watchtower, Batman hears the voice of Martian Manhunter in his mind, warning him to take the Lasso of Truth in Steve's place, hinting that they both know why it will work if Bruce uses it. Before he can do anything with it, though, they are surprised by Owlman, who claims to have come for Nightwing.

Mazahs turns his attention to Luthor and company, and Captain Cold explains how he and Black Manta released him by accident; how he'd said that he was Alexander Luthor. With horror, Lex looks into the eyes of his attacker and sees his own looking back. Fortunately, Bizarro's loyalty ensures that Lex isn't made pulp by his other-worldly duplicate's fists. Unfortunately, Bizarro is not strong enough to prevent Mazahs from thrusting his fist into Bizarro's chest, and killing him - taking his power. Sadly, Luthor rushes over to his creation's side, and promises the dying creature that he can fix him. Weakly, Bizarro splutters that there will be no fixing him, and dies in his maker's arms. Worried that Mazahs will come back, Captain Cold begs Lex to leave the monster alone. Gritting his teeth, Lex responds that it was his monster.

Lex formulates a plan, suggesting that Black Adam's lightning might be able to switch Mazahs back, if it were to hit him. The only trouble is that Black Adam can't call down his lightning with a crushed jaw. Sinestro offers the use of his ring to reset the jaw - if only momentarily. Using a lightning rod borrowed from Batman, Lex believes they will be able to attract Adam's lightning to Mazahs - and once he's human again, Lex will deal with this other Luthor himself.

As time is running out with Firestorm, Owlman explains that he hasn't come to stop them, but to help. His Gotham is gone, his Alfred is gone, and all he has left is this world's Dick Grayson.

Sinestro uses his ring to thrust the lightning rod into Mazahs' chest. He then resets Black Adam's jaw, allowing him to speak. Even as Superwoman grips his face, attempting to tear off his skin, Adam manages to shout the word. Superwoman is struck by the lightning as it is called down into the rod. But even after being filled with that jolt of energy, Mazahs remains. He turns his attention to Lex, and pins him, declaring that Ultraman was right to think that this world was just full of weaker versions of his own world's inhabitants. He declares that he is better than Lex as he prepares to kill him. Grunting, Lex responds that maybe he's right - but he is still the same man, and he sounds exactly like his counterpart. Grabbing the lightning rod, Lex shouts "Mazahs!" and calls down the black lightning, covering his opponent's mouth and thrusting a blade into his chest. Tears well in the dying man's eyes, and Lex responds that weak as he is, he is smarter.

Unfortunately, Ultraman still lives. Lex turns on him, reminding that the Kryptonian is weaker than he'll admit, limited by his need to consume Kryptonite. Knowing of Ultraman's weakness to solar energy, he developed a solar gun. Ultraman is quick to destroy it, though, but he can make no further attack, as he cries out in pain. Thanks to the efforts of Black Adam and Sinestro, the permanent solar eclipse has been brought to an end, and the sun's rays are burning Ultraman.

In the meantime, Batman has used the lasso to connect with Wonder Woman, and begins to pull the heroes out of the Firestorm Matrix.

Standing over Ultraman as he writhes in agony, Lex explains that his opponent is confused about where strength really comes from. A simple green rock isn't the source of strength. Even his doppelganger's array of stolen powers was not real strength. Such things are a weakness that is too readily relied upon. Reaching out for the Kryptonite ring Lex is taunting him with, Ultraman begs to be killed. Grimly, Lex responds that he will not. It is better to let him remain alive knowing that he is the weakest man on the planet in both body and mind. As he walks away, Lex hears the tiny voice of Atomica calling out for her lover, Johnny Quick. Coldly, Lex responds that Johnny Quick is long dead, and, declaring that he is ending what she started, he crushes her to death under his boot.

Meanwhile, the heroes are freed of their prison, but Superman is dying. The sliver of Kryptonite that was implanted in his brain remains there, and is killing him. When Lex returns to them, he explains that he can help. When Superman regains consciousness, the first face he sees is Lex Luthor's, smiling and admitting that he just saved his life.

The next day, after much debate, it was decided that those villains who had helped to save the world would have their records wiped. Some, such as Black Adam and Sinestro didn't care. Black Manta uncharacteristically returned Aquaman's trident to the sea, and left a message with a sailor to tell him that he's glad that his long-time enemy isn't dead. Captain Cold, of course, will likely remain undeterred in his penchant for robbery. Lex suspects, though, that Catwoman might take the opportunity to turn her life around. When she meets with Batman later, she wonders if there might be more between them, but he insists that there can't be. Dejected, she leaves him with a lot on her mind to think about.

Dick Grayson, meanwhile, would rather not hide anymore, now that his identity is out. Batman explains that he has an opportunity for him that takes advantage of the fact that his identity is widely known. It will be a dangerous mission.

Lex, meanwhile, decides its time to rebuild some of what was torn down, and to pay back a few debts. He writes a cheque to Deathstroke, assuring that that debt is paid, before taking a meeting with a young Ted Kord. Ted explains that while his father had not intended to sell his company to Lexcorp, he would. Lex, though, has had a change of heart - despite secretly having killed Ted's father for that refusal. Ted's father had wanted his son to run the company - and Ted would run it. Lex encourages the young man's enterprise, offering advice whenever needed.

Elsewhere, The Flash and Cyborg struggle to search the wreckage of the satellite for two missing members of their teams: Element Woman and Vibe. Both are nowhere to be found; as though they never existed. Barry wonders if they could question the Syndicate, but only three remain alive. Owlman is missing, Ultraman is in a constant state of pain, agony, and depression, and Superwoman has been under question by Wonder Woman for some time. Diana has been trying to determine what the red tear in the sky that they all saw was, but Superwoman refuses to answer. When Diana spots a smile forming on her captive's face, she wonders what it is, and Superwoman smirks that her baby kicked.

Lex attempts to rebuild his B-0 project from scratch, though it will take five years for it to reach maturity again. Before it died, he had told Bizarro a story of how he'd saved his ill sister Lena because he was too afraid to fail. The truth was that he had failed, and she remains an invalid to this day because of it. What Lex has learned, though, from all the events he just lived through, is that failure makes one stronger. And the lessons learned from failure open the way for success. One of the things Lex has learned recently, for example, is that Batman and Bruce Wayne are one and the same.

Elsewhere, Superman admits to the rest of the Justice League that there is only one being in this universe with the power to destroy an entire world. Darkseid must be out there, somewhere.

He is wrong, though. On the ruins of Earth 3, the Anti-Monitor has consumed nearly all of that universe, and will soon be coming for Darkseid.

Appearing in "Crisis of Self"

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