I have been excited about this one-shot since it was announced months ago. I had no idea that what we’d get was such a thorough deep dive into the roots DC Universe. It’s a really great story, but I have a nagging feeling that only longtime DC fans like myself may be saying that.
Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Jim Lee, John Romita Jr. and Andy team up to give us one of the coolest DC collaborations to date. Essentially, Batman has discovered that many of the interconnected mysterious/mystical/mythic metals in the DCU are somehow connected. As he investigates, we see that he’s been preparing for the worst. Meanwhile, Hal Jordan is sent to Earth to learn more about a strange reading the Guardians have detected underneath Wayne Manor, and this leads to a team up with Duke Thomas to discover the secret Batman has locked up underneath the Bat-cave. All of this is accompanied by narration from Carter Hall, as Hawkman writes his last journal, ending with an ominous warning- DO NOT FOLLOW THE MYSTERY OF THE METALS.
The story Snyder and Tynion tell is fascinating, but it’s entirely teases and set-up. There’s no resolution by the end of the one shot, but leading into The Casting next month, then Metal in August, Snyder had to put all the toys in place for things to come to a head. The character work is interesting though. Batman is determined as ever, and Duke Thomas has grown considerably. And despite a lack of resolution, if you’re a big DC fan, this is a thrilling read. We go from the secret history of the Hawks, to the Court of the Owls, to the Anti-Monitor, to Snyder’s newly revealed history of the Joker.
Simply, for a life-long DC fan, it’s thrilling. For a newer reader, you may be a little (or a lot) lost.
As far as art goes, DC has pulled out three of its best for this story, and it really helps give the story an epic scale. Kubert does the Hawkman pages, which is appropriate given his father’s connection with the character. These pages are really a thrill. Andy does a lot of recapture the feel of his dad’s work, and it’s made all the better for it.
Meanwhile, the main story, about Batman and Hal’s parallel investigations, is split between Kubert, Romita and Lee. It looks great, but it suffers just a touch from whiplash. In several sequences, the art shifts from Romita to Lee, and back again. Although both artists are great, it can be jarring given the differences in their styles.
In the end, this is an exciting issue, but it’s dense. I personally can’t wait for Metal, but here your mileage may vary.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Writer: S. Snyder, J. Tynion IV
Artist: J. Lee, An. Kubert, J. Romita Jr.
Colours: A. Sinclair, J. Skipper
Inks: S. Williams, K. Jansen, D. Miki
Letterer: Steve Wands
Cover: Jim Lee
Publisher: DC Comics
Now made from 100% recycled crises!
DC Comics has kicked off its big summer event with Dark Days: The Forge. Not to be confused with the “Rebirth/Doomsday Clock” storyline, also starring Batman, this book follows several characters investigating the mysterious metal that can be found in many of the DC Universe’s most powerful weapons.
This issue moves at breakneck speed, changing scenes every few pages. Most of the time is split between Hawkman and Batman as they individually search for the origin of the element, dionesium. Dionesium has regenerative properties, but causes those exposed to lose their minds, i.e. Vandal Savage, Ra’s al Ghul, The Joker. Batman becomes concerned when he realizes many powerful relics like Doctor Fate’s helmet, Wonder Woman’s Bands and Nth metal all share the same frequency as the dionesium. Most of the issue is one big reveal after another, so I can’t say too much more without giving the big moments away. If you’re not up on your DC history, especially the Crisis events, some of these reveals might not carry much weight for you.
DC put several of its top tier artists on this one-shot, and each one does a great job with their pages. The problem, for me, is that the art styles seemed to clash, and some scenes changed artists midway through. Numerous artists on a single issue can work well if each artist handles a different scene, story or timeline, but here there didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason behind who was doing what. They may have been trying to recapture the magic of Geoff John’s Rebirth one-shot, but came up short.
This book is steeped in DC Comics history, and isn’t very inviting for the casual reader. All the artists brought their A-game, but switching between such dissimilar art styles so often hurts the overarching narrative. Despite this, there are a few standout moments, like the inclusion of the Immortal Man, and Batman doing his best “Devil Wears Prada” impression as he dismisses Mister Miracle.
In summary, my thoughts on this book are perhaps best captured by a line of Mr. Terrific’s dialogue, “I’ll be honest, Batman. I have an IQ of 179, but I have no idea what any of this means.”
Review by Sean M. Morse