Dark Days: The Casting #1 Review

The Forge special set the stage for what the upcoming Dark Nights: Metal event by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo will be. Before the event fully begins there are still several more pieces that need to be set up. To do that Snyder, along with Andy Kubert, Jim Lee and John Romita Jr., are bringing us Dark Days: The Casting. Following the events of The Forge there is a lot of groundwork that can still be laid out with what Batman is doing and how Joker, Green Lantern and other DC Universe heroes and villains relate to the upcoming Dark Nights: Metal event. How will the dominos be laid out? Let’s find out with Dark Days: The Casting #1.

Writer: Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV

Artist: Andy Kubert, Jim Lee and John Romita Jr.

Inker:  Klaus Janson and Danny Miki

Colorist: Alex Sinclair

Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10

Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: Hawkman and Hawkwoman walk through a museum and meet with the organization they’ve put together over their many lifetimes: The Immortals. Hawkman and Hawkwoman reveal the truth of their origins. One of the members activates an ancient tablet by stabbing it with a special dagger.

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Elsewhere Batman fights Amphitrion until they are stopped by Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman mentions that Batman should’ve called her since he is in a place no mortal should walk alone and asks how he discovered the Gods place. Batman reveals that he found a scroll that described the treacherous path to the forge of Hephaestus and that he needs to speak with him.

Wonder Woman says that the Gods have abandoned Earth and barred the Gates of Olympus behind them. Batman asks why they left. Wonder Woman says that the Gods believed a war that will shape the cosmos would take place soon and she notices Batman knows about it.

Batman says he only knows about fear and was hoping that Hephaestus would help shine a light into the darkness of the mystery he is trying to solve. Wonder Woman presents Batman with the Sunblade of Apollo that Hephaestus created using the Eight Metal. Batman thanks Wonder Woman and says he can see something beginning in the world and it is laughing.

At the Batcave, Hal Jordan and Duke want to know why Batman would lock Joker up. Joker makes fun of Duke for not being a Robin. Duke angrily tries to grab Joker and Hal tries to stop him. This attempt causes Duke and Hal to short circuit the barrier holding Joker captive.

Joker then reveals that after he fell from the the corner of the Batcave (back in “Death of the Family”) he fell in a green metal that restructured his face and he found a marking of a Bat from an old civilization and learned about how it relates to the Court of Owls.

Joker then makes fun of Duke about how the barrier is reacting differently to Duke’s body. Hal tries to fight the Joker but his Green Lantern ring is not at full power.

Elsewhere both Hawkman and Hawkwoman find the paintings of the old civilizations that feature tribes of the Bats and Birds that continue to go to war with one another. They get more information on the metal that has cursed them.

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They then go to gather both the Blackbirds and Challengers of the Unknown to help uncover what exactly is going on. As they examine the wizard’s dagger an explosion rocks the facility they are in. Suddenly a giant being covers the entire area.

In Sondran Desert, Batman cuts his way through a Cadmus Base and finds Dubbilex there waiting for him. Dubbilex warns Batman that the metal he seeks is cursed and he should turn back. Batman asks about the metal’s location but Dubbilex passes out.

Talia Al Ghul shows up for the same reason Batman is at Cadmus. She reveals that her father and other immortals have tried to solve the same mystery Batman is trying to solve right now and that one of the immortals produced a dagger out of a strange metal.

Batman wonders if Talia is there to help her father. Talia says she is not their for her father but rather, she wants to be prepared for the coming war. Batman mentions he heard that Silencer is coming back into the fold. Talia isn’t worried about him.

Batman then offers Talia the Sunblade for the dagger made out of the Ninth Metal. Talia agrees and hands Batman the dagger with the power of Shazam.

Back at the Batcave, Joker beats Hal and throws him down a cliff. Duke tackles Joker from behind. Joker mocks Duke for not knowing why Batman picked him to be his sidekick. Joker then reveals that both Duke and his mother have latent metahuman genes, something Batman already knew about.

Joker hits Duke with a crowbar and gets on top of him. Joker tells Duke he should look into all the metahuman files Batman has to learn the truth about how he is “The Signal. Duke tries to fight back but ends up falling off the cliff Hal fell off of earlier.

Joker goes to the destroyed machine Batman built but before he can do anything Hal and Duke reappear in one of Batman’s planes.

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Hawkman continues his investigation he understand the reason Thanagarian’s brought the Nth Metal to Earth was to stop people from the planet from infecting the rest of the universe from their ambition. He finishes writing the last entry in his journal and as he does something comes out of a mysterious portal at an unknown location.

Back at the Batcave, Hal and Duke have pinned Joker against the wall. Joker mocks the duo about a “Dark Crisis” that is coming. Duke suddenly feels odd and a bright light fills the Batcave. As the light fades Duke passes out. Joker uses this opportunity to disappear.

Batman appears and demands to know what Hal is doing in the Batcave. Hal fires back by demanding to know why Batman locked Joker up. Batman becomes pissed that Hal let Joker free. Hal doesn’t understand as Batman told the Justice League he doesn’t even know if the person running around is the real Joker.

Batman comes clean and reveals that he spent a long time piecing things together to create his “Final Invention,” a machine that would ensure a Batman would always be around. Before he could finish it he died at the hands of the Joker but that did not end up being the end of his story as the Dionesium brought him back to life and used his “Final Invention” to reconstitute himself. During that time Batman found himself living various lives where he died over and over again which he came to understand that it was the metal the Dionesium is made of caused the visions.

Hal sees that the machine is what led to Batman getting the Guardians of the Universe attention. Batman asks Hal if that does not make him wonder why the Guardians would try to interfere with an archaeological investigation happening on Earth.

Duke brings up what Joker said about Batman using Duke as an experiment. Batman says he never tried to use Duke for anything and has always wanted Duke to decide his own path.

Batman takes out the Shazam dagger which causes Duke’s power to reactivate. Duke starts seeing a vision of how Batman’s machine once looked and asks Hal for his Green Lantern ring to reconstruct it. Hal reluctantly agrees. Duke uses the Green Lantern ring to recreate Batman’s “Final Invention.”

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Batman goes into the machine and places the Shazam dagger on a podium alongside other artifacts made out of the special metal. When Batman activates the machine he sees a vision and passes out.

Hal and Duke quickly get Batman back up and ask him what he saw. Batman says he saw “darkness.”

Elsewhere, three thousand miles below Gotham City, a group of bat worshipers gather to welcome the Dark Knights to Earth. Out of a portal it several mysterious figures are shown alongside a being dubbed “The True Father of Batman.” End of issue.

The Good: Dark Days: The Casting #1 places further pieces into a puzzle that is still not 100% clear what it actually is leading towards. But with the complete picture not being clear what we do see before us creates enough hype to make Dark Nights something to be excited for.

Throughout Dark Days: The Casting #1 we are able to see how the connective tissues of the DC Universe since New 52 are coming together. This is especially the case with Snyder’s Batman and Geoff Johns’ Justice League runs that factor heavily in what is going on. That connection makes the reading experience that much more rewarding for those who have read those comics. The light bulb moments happen consistently, adding to how impactful the story is as Snyder builds to the beginning of Dark Nights: Metal.

Bridging the gap between “Death of the Family” and “Endgame” with what occurred to the Joker during that period was one of the many important things that Snyder cleared up. Joker’s presence throughout Dark Days: The Casting #1 gives the upcoming event a greater sense of danger. The Joker being the one that answers questions of his return and what Batman is after in his investigation was also an interesting way to paint the villain in a wild card role.

That wild card nature was used to it’s fullest as we learned from Joker that the metal Batman is after relates to the existence of metahumans in the DC Universe. The explanation gives the metahumans a unique origin as we learn how they exist in the DCU, in a similar way to the mutants and Inhumans in the Marvel Universe. This explanation also creates a mystery as to what characters in the DCU will play a role in Dark Nights: Metal outside the Justice League, the Hawks and Joker.

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Putting Duke Thomas in the middle of the entire mystery and revealing that he is a metahuman as well explains why Batman has kept such a close eye on his training. To Batman, Duke was someone with the same potential as Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne. At the same time now we know that one reason Batman didn’t give Duke the role of Robin was because of his latent metahuman gene. Seeing Duke’s ability first hand as he reassembled Batman’s broken machine was a good way to tease something bigger for the character down the road. Getting our first sign of what Duke’s codename will be with Joker referencing “The Signal” further paints Duke as an important character to the upcoming event.

As all that goes on, seeing Batman continue his quest in learning what the secrets of the “Metal” around the DCU is was just as interesting. The information we learn from Joker elevated the importance of Batman’s quest. And through Batman we are able to see how even more characters connect to everything that is going on as Wonder Woman gives him Apollo’s weapon made out of one of the metals. Seeing that and the Shazam dagger he gets from Talia further showed us that there is a greater connection to the Gods of the DCU than even Batman is aware of. What that connection is will be an intriguing mystery to discover.

Seeing how both Hawkman and Hawkwoman have been leading an organization known as “The Immortals” that includes the likes of Ra’s Al Ghul added to what Batman is doing. This fact instantly creates interesting in the role of Hawkman and Hawkwoman, two characters that I’ve never been interested in. Snyder clearing up a lot of the confusion that surrounds both characters has been a big plus in giving the characters some momentum. Their role in all of this is still a mystery as they seem to be on the opposite side of the same board that Batman is playing on

On top of all that we got our first glimpse at the Dark Multiverse Batman Family. The presence alone of this Dark Multiverse version of the Batman Family was enough to create a credible threat for Batman to lead the Justice League against. Seeing who these characters are should provide plenty of room for Snyder to unleash his creativity in detailing what they are.

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The artwork for Dark Days: The Casting #1 was much better handled this time around. Having Andy Kubert, Jim Lee and John Romita Jr. do equal amount of work with the specific plot points of the story was smart. This allowed each plot point to feel like it’s own thing with Snyder giving us the connective tissue through his writing. Kubert for his part did well in giving the Hawkman and Hawkgirl segment a classic DC tone to it while Lee and Romita went with more of a darker tone of the modern DC.

The Bad: The one weakness of Dark Days: The Casting #1 is the fact that it is so continuity heavy that it may not be the most inviting read for new readers. This issue is all about building off of what has come before it, with plot points from all the way back from the beginning of the New 52 being brought into play. If you are someone that does not have that kind of knowledge than it is recommended to at least read some wikipedia entries. If not there will be a lot of references that will easily fly over new readers head.

Overall: Dark Days: The Casting #1 does an excellent job using past storylines to build an intriguing plot that will involve the entire DC Universe. Batman’s attitude throughout his investigation on top of everything that Joker reveals to Hal Jordan and Duke Thomas created a tense atmosphere around everything going on. Now with the stage set, Snyder and Capullo are all ready to make Dark Nights: Metal one of the best events DC Comics has ever had.