Dark Days: The Forge #1 Review

Since Rebirth began we have had several big events going on around the DC Universe. Though most of it centers around what Geoff Johns set-up in DC Rebirth, Scott Snyder has been doing his own thing in the Batman comic books. Now Snyder has been given free reign for his first big event with Dark Days with his long-time Batman collaborator Greg Capullo. Before Dark Days fully begins we have a few issues that will set the stage for Snyder and Capullo’s big event. The first of those set-up issues will be Dark Days: The Forge by Snyder and James Tynion IV. How will the event be set-up? Let’s find out with Dark Days: The Forge #1.

Writers: Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV

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

Inkers: Scott Williams, Klaus Janson and Danny Miki

Colorists: Alex Sinclair and Jeremiah Skipper

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: While remembering his many lives Carter Hall thinks back to one particular night when he was riding through the desert and saw a giant spaceship flying through the sky. When he saw it Carter noticed a clue written in the metal that would solve the greatest mystery in history.

In the present, at the Bermuda Triangle, Dr. Madison is recording a message while the tremors on the island are getting worse, mentioning that something is in the metal. Batman suddenly breaks into Dr. Madison’s lab inside a mech. Batman rescues Dr. Madison and gets him off the island before a volcano erupts and covers the island in lava.

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In the ocean, Aquaman spots Batman and Dr. Madison underwater. He saves them both and swims them to a nearby island that is safe.

Aquaman questions Batman on how the facility that was just destroyed was a secret Wayne Enterprise black site hidden from everyone, including himself. Batman retorts by saying he knows what is underneath Atlantis. He then tells Aquaman they should be questioning what “they” are hiding.

Cloaked above the sky, someone working for Lady Blackhawk contacts her to say Batman hasn’t found anything.

On Mogo, Ganthet calls Hal Jordan for a private meeting. Ganthet gives Hal a secret mission to find something dark hidden on Earth. Hal notices that the coordinates are very familiar.

Sometime later Hal flies to Wayne Manor and enters the Batcave. As soon as he lands Hal is attacked by Duke, who has been assigned by Batman to not let anyone inside the Batcave, not even family. Hal quickly recovers and captures Duke. He question Duke on who he is. Duke says he doesn’t have a codename yet but Batman gave him a specific job to do.

Hal scans the Batcave and eventually finds a secret door and he enters the secret location in the Batcave.

At the Campus underneath Philadelphia, Immortal Man comments that Elaine Thomas was recently reactivated and he is just monitoring if she will reveal any information to Batman. Immortal Man says their secrecy must be maintained for the sake of mankind’s future.

Elsewhere Hawkman remembers all his past lives and how the Nth Metal he found gave him the powers he had. Carter suddenly wakes up after he has a nightmare of the future.

At a the Lunar Batcave, Batman tells his computer to send Lucius a message to get site 15 up in a week and to put it up away from the ocean. As he is uploading he got from the destroyed site 14 Mr. Terrific shows up. Batman is surprised to see Mr. Terrific back in their universe again. Mr. Terrific comments that he thought it was time to come back home and shows Batman the data he gathered from the other world.

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Batman asks Mr. Terrific if he told anyone that they’ve been working together. Mr. Terrific says he would never break a promise to Batman. He then goes over how the frequency being generated across  the different worlds is growing stronger and he has no idea what is going on.

Batman notices something that seems to make him happy. Mr. Terrific asks Batman what made him smile since the readings he is seeing can’t come from their Earth. Batman says that he is going to need Mr. Terrific to do something very specific while he follows the path to the end. Before he does that Batman opens up a special container, saying it is time to release “him” out of the box.

Back at the Batcave, Hal and Duke walk through the secret cave. A voice suddenly starts talking to both of them about a mystery Batman has been following for years. The voice goes over how it all started with the tooth Batman took out of Dick Grayson when the Court of Owls first showed up and the special “electrum” material it was made out of. The metal from the material caused Batman to look into the connection to other special items, including Dr. Fate’s helmet. The voice then reveals Batman created a team of Outsiders to help him discover the truth and show them the members that made up the team.

Hal thinks he and Duke should leave but the voice tells them to stay as he is lonely. The voice them shows them a container with Dionesium and how Batman wasn’t the only one to find the substance. Hal asks who this voice is.

The voice then says that Batman is close to piecing things together. Hal thinks they should go get the rest of the Justice League to help out. The voice dares Hal to open a door that he shows them to discover what is really going on.

Elsewhere, Carter is trying to figure out the connection between the Nth Metal and the nightmare he had, looking through his archaeological findings to do so. He takes a look at everything he has found and believes he must discover what is going on no matter what.

At the Arctic Circle, Batman flies to the Fortress of Solitude and knocks on the door for Superman to let him in. Superman asks Batman what is wrong since his heart is racing. Batman mentions the room Superman gave him in the Fortress of Solitude that he made Superman promise to never look inside.

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Superman tells Batman if he is doing something too big for him to do alone to ask him for help. Batman thanks Superman for the offer but that he can handle things and he has Mister Miracle to help him open the door to the secret room in the Fortress of Solitude.

Mister Miracle and Batman go deeper into the Fortress of Solitude together. Mister Miracle wonders what happened to the key for the secret room Batman set up. Batman says he shot it in the sun.

Mister Miracle attempts to open the secret room but when he approaches it an explosion suddenly occurs. Mister Miracle takes the explosion as a sign that they need to turn back and enters a Boom Tube portal to leave before things get worse.

Batman stays behind and looks at a tower. Batman has his computer analyze the tower to examine the frequency of the dark energy.

Back at the secret cave in the Batcave, Hal and Duke open the door they were dared to open. As soon as they do they find Joker waiting for them. Joker tells Hal and Duke that they are just pieces in Batman’s puzzle just like him. He then starts laughing only like Joker can. End of issue.

The Good: Throughout Dark Days: The Forge #1 Scott Snyder and James Tynion use everything that has been established since the New 52 began to create an epic scale for the upcoming event. By using elements from even before DC Rebirth, we are able to see how much things have mattered since DC rebooted their universe. In basing story on elements from the New 52 Snyder and Tynion give a greater sense of payoff for long time fans of the former’s run on Batman.

With Dark Days: The Forge #1, Snyder and Tynion show no fear in having the Dark Days event being grounded by DC’s history dating back to when the New 52 began. Even though the New 52 have a very a sour taste in some fans mouths that does not mean that DC Rebirth wiped out it’s history. Instead, Snyder and Tynion go all in to show us how much stories from the New 52, in particular Snyder’s Batman run, matters to the events of Dark Days. This in turn creates the idea that the events of Dark Days have much more far reaching consequences.

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In drawing many connections to what Snyder has been building since his first arc in New 52 Batman, “Court of Owls,” there is a greater sense of history to the story. Establishing the groundwork in the special material that Batman found when he knocked the tooth out of Nightwing’s mouth shows how much long-term planning went into the story. That planning opened things up for Snyder to delve deeper into other bigger elements into the DCU as we get a firm time period into how long Batman has been investigating the special metal.

Snyder and Tynion using Batman’s investigation that dates back to the “Court of Owls” arc helped ground the bigger mystery that we are seeing unfold. Even though things aren’t fully clear as to where things are going, Dark Days: The Forge #1 slowly builds towards the direction Snyder and Tynion want to take the story. There is never a point in the story that felt as though you were lost as a reader. Instead, Snyder and Tynion slowly introduce elements of the mystery Batman is trying to solve and leaving things open so these plot points can be revisited when the event truly begins.

And as a fan who has been reading Snyder’s run since his Detective Comics run, it is great to see how we are seeing things like Dionesium and Nightwing’s tooth being brought into the fold. This gives us a better idea into how much time has passed since Batman started his investigation. It also gives Batman’s Outsiders group that he has secretly assembled a clear purpose for existing as a black-ops superhero team.

All of that helps to further establish how Dark Days: The Forge #1 is returning Batman is now entering back into being a God. Batman has long been the one mortal that can stand amongst God-like characters and not seem out of place. Now we are going to see Snyder and Tynion go all in on how Batman is more than a mere mortal man. There is a reason that Batman has reached legendary status and it is going to be exciting to see where exactly the character goes during the events of Dark Days.

Though Dark Days: The Forge is very much a story centered around what Batman is doing, Snyder and Tynion make a concerted effort to show how the rest of the JLA will factor into things once Metal begins. That is clear with how we see Green Lantern getting directly involved while other characters like Hawkman, Mr. Terrific, Superman and Mister Miracle are introduced as part of the story. These characters involvement make it clear that Dark Days: Metal will be a big event that goes beyond being just being another Batman story.

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Each of these JLA members is given a clear purpose. That is best shown with Mr. Terrific’s involvement in Batman’s case. Seeing how Snyder and Tynion tackle head on how Mr. Terrific has been in the Earth-2 universe for a while made sense to what is going in the story. It was a great way to show how the Multiverse is not being ignored and actually factors into the bigger mystery around Dark Days: Metal.

The same goes for Green Lantern and Duke’s involvement in the story. Having the two characters paired up provided Dark Days: The Forge something new to explore as Hal and Duke met for the first time. The fresh pairing gave way to some fun dialogue and made their individual reaction to who we would eventually learn to be Joker talking to them be great fun.

Given the fact that Snyder and Tynion went out of their way to show that the discovery of Dionesium factored into Batman delving deeper into the special metal that threatens the universe, Joker’s appearance isn’t shocking. There is clearly more to Joker’s appearance at the end of Dark Days: The Forge than we know. What will be most interesting to learn is if we will see Batman discovering that there have been three different people that have been Joker factor into the story. It’s something Batman learned back when he was given Metron’s powers during Geoff Johns’ final Justice League arc and would add to whatever Joker was doing at the end of this issue.

Though I’ve never been a big Hawkman fan it is intriguing to see how the Nth metal his weapons are built on factor into what Batman is doing. My hope is that Dark Days: Metal will finally give Hawkman a clear foundation to garner a bigger fan following. So far he, along with Hawkwoman, has been a character that has been held back by his confusing history. So Dark Days: Metal may be the opportunity to give a clear direction for the Hawk brand.

Jim Lee and Andy Kubert delivered artwork that you expect from a big event comic book like Dark Days: The Forge #1. Their art styles perfectly complement one another to the point that their switch isn’t as jarring. Seeing the two get to draw so many different characters and setting give the issue an epic scope. It helps that they are given a good variety to draw as we Batman and other characters travel across the world during this issue.

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The Bad: Though I am a John Romita Jr. fan, he wasn’t the best fit alongside Lee and Kubert’s art style. His style is very different from his two artistic partners and it was jarring to see such a big shift in style. And where Romita Jr. was shown to be the weak link of the issue, especially with how he drew Superman. His version of Superman looked more like a cosplayer in a Superman costume that had the wrong size ‘S’ on the front.

Overall: Dark Days: The Forge #1 is exactly how you set the stage for a big event story. Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV deliver an impactful reading experience as we see how Batman’s investigation leads into an even bigger story to be told. With an established history to build on, Dark Days: Metal should be a lot of fun to read once the event truly begins.