By Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Jim Lee, Andy Kubert, John Romita Jr., Scott Williams, Klaus Janson, Danny Miki, Alex Sinclair, Jeremiah Skipper, and Steve Wands
DARK DAYS: The Forge #1 is the prelude issue to the new series, METAL from Batman besties, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. This issue has an all-star creative team giving it their all to set up this series, with art from comic greats like Jim Lee, Andy Kubert, and John Romita Jr. DC is really bringing out the big guns to ensure this series is awesome, but all of this shine and glitter would be worthless if the story sucks – lucky for us, Snyder and Tynion IV got us covered. This summer crossover event from DC may have some of you skeptical, but believe me this is a must-read series, including this prelude issue. DARK DAYS: The Forge #1 opens up with Batman uncovering some unsettling news around the metal in the earth’s core, which has ties to other DC superheroes like Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Hawkman. The Metal seems to have connection to Hawkman and the Nth metal from where he gets his powers, and also there is also some connection to the Green Lantern corps that has MOGO all worried. Batman messing up the status quo because of his detective skills and getting it changed further via his tactical abilities are what make Batman-led crossovers so magical; you know things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.
This issue sets the tone for the upcoming METAL series through the interactions between the main super heroes with the promise of more unlikely team-ups and enemies being made out of former friends. We get a lot of intrigue and setup for the future arc that are going to capture a lot of people’s attention, leaving little doubt this will be worth the wait. DARK DAYS: The Forge #1 is written by Snyder and Tynion IV, their story smells of a great Summer event for DC with Batman leading the way. It was smart to put this crossover event in the capable hands of Snyder and Tynion IV, if their sales indicate anything it is that these two write stories people want to read. From page 1 of John Carter’s (Hawkman) retelling of his final journey entry to the final shocking page, this issue is really good. Not just “okay this is Scott Snyder so we can assume it is good”, but this story has the potential to be an epic series that will recapture many jaded DC comic fan’s hearts and get them to be invested again in both the brand and new comic releases.
The subtle yet important involvement of some key DC figures is done in such an understated way from Snyder and Tynion IV, that it feels natural and not like a forced crossover between superheroes. Batman shows up at the perfect moment in the Bermuda Triangle to save a scientist who is about to be engulfed in an erupting volcano, while Duke attempts to protect the Batcave from an unwanted intruder, Hal Jordan. We also get some continued flashbacks to Hawkman, some impromptu tidbits from The Immortal Man revealing in some connections to the Bat family, and we also learn Batman has a lunar Batcave. Throughout these stories there are appearances from other DC heroes like Aquaman, Superman, Mister Miracle, and Mr. Terrific. All of these intermingling stories feel purposeful with the larger story being unfolded, the metal is what ties everything together and Batman is not happy about it. Even the pairing of Duke with Green Lantern Hal Jordan might have felt a little odd at first, but as the pages flesh out and the two develop familiarity, it starts to make sense why these two are put together. There might not have been initial chemistry between the two characters on the page, this book just appears to serve as a set up to a future team up between the two or a final show down. Either way, count me in! The book leaves the readers with an ominous feeling that something big is going down within the DC universe, and you will want to be a part of it. Even though the story is Batman driven, there are many other personalities at play here that allow for many comic readers to have some kind of investment in the story.
Okay, the art is really what is making this story that much more captivating. We get comic artist legends, Jim Lee, Andy Kubert, and John Romita Jr. all working together to bring the epic story to life. Maybe the intention was to give the three main sections of Hawkman, Batman, and Green Lantern to individual artists to give distinction to each story, but that kinda goes out the window as the comic progresses. We see Lee’s classic sharp lines and tremendous detail as he presents the Green Lantern and Duke confrontation in the Batcave. Andy Kubert gets to draw Hawkman and his flashbacks intermingled throughout the book that serve as the driving narration. Then we get to Romita Jr. who is taking on most of the Batman pages and his style is so strikingly different when paired next to Kubert and Lee that it can be a little unsettling to the reader’s eye, but it does give clarification between stories. Lee and Kubert both have a generally well received artistic style that gives tremendous detail while also not overwhelming the reader’s focus. The panel layouts from the Hawkman and Lantern pages feel clean and focused with great detail given to showcase plenty of action balanced with the story. In comparison, Romita Jr.’s panels feel heavy and dark. The cluttered feeling of the Batman pages are in full Romita Jr. style, but paired next to the pages of Kubert and Lee, it feels mismanaged and a little hard to follow. It is a matter of personal taste, everyone has their favorite artist whose style speaks to them and Romita Jr.’s style is certainly a style that you either love or hate. Depending on which category you fall into, love or hate, can determine how you like the flow of this book. The one thing sure to not disappoint anyone is the final page of the book, drawn by Jim Lee; it is a great way to wrap up this issue while also building suspense for the next issue.
DARK DAYS: The Forge #1 is the start of something great at DC. Sure, we have all been burned before by promised awesome summer crossover events, but we should not let that disappointment from past heartbreak prevent us from opening our hearts and eyes to hot little numbers like this book. DC is all in with the investment of talent and characters and it appears they are leaving the event in capable hands. If this prelude issue is an indication what the series will be like, it will rock and it will roll, baby. When you hear a series is going to be called METAL, you anticipate some kind of badass, rock ‘n’ roll style comic that will be full of action between big heroes and that is definitely what you are going to get. This book does not disappoint – the story feels big, but the art feels even bigger. Get this comic, it will make you believe in falling in love with crossover events again.