By The Comic Bastards
Welcome to another Comic Bastards group review. In case this is your first group review on the site, here’s how it works. Each of the participating writers will give their brief thoughts and score on the book. Everyone’s score and opinion are their own, and there are no averages! Up today is the first issue of DC’s non-event, event book Dark Days: The Forge.
DARKNESS COMES TO THE DC UNIVERSE WITH THE MYSTERY OF THE FORGE! Aquaman, The Flash and more of DC’s pantheon of heroes suspect Batman of hiding a dark secret that could threaten the very existence of the multiverse! It’s an epic that will span generations—but how does it connect to the origins of one of DC’s most legendary heroes?
The great comics event of summer 2017 is about to begin courtesy of superstar writers Scott Snyder and James Tynion III and illustrated by a master class of comics artists: Andy Kubert, Jim Lee, and John Romita Jr.! You do not want to miss this one!
BEN: Score: 4/5
When a book is entitled, Dark Days: The Forge you can expect the overall mood of the piece to be somber or depressing, almost as if “Dark Days” are approaching. When a comic book collects some of the best writers and artists in the industry in one issue, you should get very excited. Thankfully, Dark Days: The Forge lives up to both of these standards laying the foundation for what should be the summer event for DC.
While Dark Days mostly succeeds on the storytelling and illustration front, there are some instances where the shift between writer and artist is noticeable. However, due to the overall quality of the issue, it didn’t bother me too much. The reveal at the end is surprising and does a good job of hooking the reader in, and it leaves me interested as to how the overall plot of the series will play out.
DANIEL: Score: 2/5
I want to say that I didn’t hate this book. I want to, but I can’t. I don’t know about the word hate. It’s pretty strong. I don’t know if I full-on hated it. Maybe I just really didn’t like it. But I’m also going, to be honest, and say that I didn’t expect to like this book all that much. One reason being that I am not a fan of “events.” I don’t know what all the creators involved in Dark Days: The Forge have in mind or in store for this book. But the whole thing just screams “event” to me.
There are a lot of names on the cover of this first issue. Let me list them for you. You have Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV and Jim Lee and Andy Kubert and John Romita Jr. and Scott Williams and Klaus Janson and Danny Miki and Alex Sinclair. This might seem awesome. A lot of names, a lot of talent. But I found it to be a bit of a hodgepodge. The art changed every couple of pages, and I hate that. It causes me to lose my flow. Takes me out of the moment for a second while I readjust. Or something. The story’s all over the place, too, changing focus and characters every two to three pages.
I don’t know. There’s probably a decent story buried under all of it somewhere. But it was too patch-work for me. I found myself drifting off while I was reading. I found myself not caring. I hate to sound cynical, but “events” always feel like a letdown for me. I mean think about it, you have a super hyped up story that you just know is going to cross over multiple titles, and usually most of them fail to deliver on that hype. And I find myself losing interest after maybe one or two issues. But then again, I could be totally wrong. Maybe this book’s not the next “big event, ” and maybe I’m just talking out my ass. I don’t know. But, really, I just don’t care.
JONATHAN: Score: 4/5
I've been trying to figure out what exactly DC is doing with the upcoming Dark Nights: Metal and subsequent Dark Matter books since pretty much right after they were all announced. Because the marketing for it has been particularly vague. For example,” Dark Matter is a return to bringing both the writer and artist to the fore to unlock their full potential" and "DARK NIGHTS: METAL, a story that will examine every choice a hero doesn't take and every path they don't walk, opening up worlds that are forged by nightmares." Gee thanks, DC. I mean, I get that they don't want their fancy events spoiled, but unlike Rebirth, The Button, and the also upcoming Doomsday Clock, there's no additional information that can be easily inferred from the titles or artwork other than "Batman is involved." Involved in what exactly? Who knows.
To be honest, this prologue one-shot doesn't do much in terms of elaborating. Really, it raises a whole bunch of questions and just sort of expects you'll want to keep reading to get the answers. And for me, it pretty much worked. I'm not completely hooked or buying into the event yet, but there's a lot going on that threatens to come together very interestingly. The strongest thing this book has going for it is the character dynamics and relationships. Sure, there's some fighting, disagreement, and uncertainty, but no one goes into full doubt or distrust mode just for the sake of manufacturing artificial conflict. Additionally, the art is consistently strong throughout, and that last panel does nothing less than make me want to see what the fuck DC is up to.
DUSTIN: Score: 3/5
It’s whatever. I know, I know, you all hate me, but man was I left with the biggest feeling of meh after reading this. Not only were there too many narrative shifts but anytime anything Hawkman or Nth metal is brought up, it’s a struggle to hold my attention. Snyder and Tynion attempt a sequel to the Court of Owls in which more of DC’s unknown history is revealed which just seems silly considering it’s a whole new planet and stuff… but I digress. There’s even a mention that the Court of Owls was the start of this mystery that Batman has been unlocking for years and years. And it’s just not cool enough. Especially when all of these random assortments of things and people are collected and brought together. It felt more like an attempt at an in continuity Dark Knight Returns than a mystery about Metal and why Hawkman sucks. Incidentally, Hawkman does jack and shit in this story. Before I get to my thoughts on the “big reveal” at the end of the issue, I want to talk about the art.
Jim Lee, Andy Kubert, and John Romita Jr. No, we aren’t playing “one of these things is not like the others,” but we could. I get that I’m somehow in the minority on Romita Jr’s art (especially all of his DC art), but in what world would you pair those three styles together and not expect a huge shift in the quality of the art every time you get to Romita in the rotation? At one point Mr. Terrific shows up, and I wish I were joking when I say that Romita illustrated him with a crimson mask. That’s not the colorist's fault; you illustrated the trademark “T” as a mask that covers his entire face making him look like he fell in ketchup moments before meeting Batman. Romita’s art is out of place, and honestly, they should have tapped David Finch for the third spot since that would have made sense considering he uses heavy fucking shadows and the book is called Dark Days.
Now, as for the ending. It says something about the state of both Batman and the DCU when an appearance from the Joker is not shocking or enjoyable. I’ll admit that I didn’t see it coming, but then it was barely alluded to in the lettering which strangely emphasized words as clues, but didn’t clue me into anything. Sure, there are three Jokers, that are somehow from the same earth and have always been there… he said with his shoulders shrugging as if to say “you got me on that one, I can’t fucking explain it either Geoff Johns.” My point is this, the Joker’s appearance and being in the Batcave isn’t exciting anymore. It’s happened too many times, and frankly, the dude has practically lived there during Morrison and Snyder’s run with the character, and no that’s not a compliment. It’s a bad habit that waters the character down and makes less than thrill that a mystery that spans the ages is somehow in the Joker’s wheelhouse. Think about that, should the Joker actually give a flying fuck about this? If he does, let’s kill that one and move on to one of the two remaining ones because that’s not a Joker I give a shit about or want to read.
Dark Days: The Forge #1
Published by DC Comics