In Review: Dark Days: The Forge #1

A beautiful looking book, with a story that reveals nothing.

The covers: A trio to find as things go dark at DC Comics. The Regular cover is by Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Alex Sinclair. A gigantic statue of Batman, who has its right fist thrust outward in a fascist manner, is the center of an apocalyptic city, while Matrix-like drones fly about in the sky, projecting batsignals on the ground. Tied to the statue’s legs are several bodies. On either side of the street, flags bearing the Batman logo wave. In the foreground is the Dark Knight holding a torch, staring at the abomination before him. Freakish imagery is complimented by strong colors, with violets being used for the sky and the ground, while the statue is ebony. All three artists have done a great job on this. The first Variant cover is set in the present, but equally hellish. Aquaman and Batman are on a rocky pedestal, with the King of the Seven Seas about to hurl his trident, while Batman pulls his cape closer to himself to protect him from the flames surrounding them. Great sense of strength in this image from Andy Kubert, though there’s not really a clear shot of Aquaman. The coloring from Brad Anderson is strong, with things really hot. John Romita, Jr., Danny Miki, and Alex Sinclair are responsible for the final Variant, and it’s the one that I purchased. Within the Fortress of Solitude, Batman and Superman are flying forward, The Man of Steel under his own abilities, while The World’s Greatest Detective is employing a piece of technology that would do the New Gods proud. I love the artwork and the coloring is incredibly bright. Overall grades: Regular A-, Kubert Variant B-, and Romita Variant A

The story: This thirty page epic by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV opens in the past with young Carter Hall witnessing something arriving: a spaceship. He writes in his journal, “It was a clue to the greatest history in mankind. And it was written in Metal.” The story then moves to “NOW” in the Bermuda Triangle where a scientist has started to make a recording. “The tremors started forty minutes ago and have only grown worse…I don’t know if the research team made it out in time. It’s too late for me. The lava will engulf the base in minutes. I stayed to protect what we’ve just learned. I keep rereading the data, hoping it comes together. Hoping what I thought I saw wasn’t true. People have to know. People need to understand. There’s something…There’s something wrong with the Earth’s core. There’s something in the metal…” Before he can continue, two gigantic hands covered in lava burst into the laboratory. It’s Batman in a huge robotic suit. He’s there to rescue Dr. Madison. The only way out is to go through the volcano. The scientist hops in and they begin their dangerous journey to safety. Aquaman arrives to rescue the pair, with the Sea King having some harsh words for Batman, who reveals that something dangerous is under Atlantis. Meanwhile, Green Lantern is assigned by Ganthet to go to Earth to stop a threat emanating from Wayne Manor. He comes upon someone who tries to stop him, but he makes his way through a secret door in the Batcave. The story follows Batman as he makes his way through several locations, revealing or hinting at things that will have an impact on the hidden threats in this series. Hal Jordan is accompanied by another hero in his quest to discover what Bruce is hiding at home. Carter is revisited for two more pages, making an oath that will have dire consequences. What’s the threat? It’s never said. That’s the only negative to this issue. It’s building up to something. What that is never gets revealed. This is all prologue, building toward something. It was incredibly readable, my fingers couldn’t flip pages fast enough, but nothing happens with any weight, because the threat is never delivered upon. Entertaining, but only puts the characters in their places for future actions. Overall grade: B-

The art: Jim Lee, Andy Kubert, and John Romita, Jr., with Scott Williams, Klaus Janson, and Danny Miki on inks are responsible for this issue’s art. It is obvious when the artists and inkers change between pages, but with these heavy hitters it does not impact the book’s enjoyment. The Carter Hall pages have very smooth lines, allowing the spaceships and Hall’s collection to look epic. The Batman pages begin with a surprise, with the Dark Knight in that lava-robosuit; it’s not a traditional Batman device, but it looks awesome. Aquaman, who is slowly morphing in the comics to more resemble Jason Momoa, has long locks that flow on the land and in the sea. Batman goes to a familiar location on Page 13 and this setting is great, as is the person who’s there and the item they look at. He goes to the Fortress of Solitude for his final destination, where someone other than Superman has to help him. This character is always amazing to look at, with his reaction to what he and Batman discover is outstanding. Hal’s pages look the best, but I’m an incredibly biased fan of Green Lantern, so they stand out the most for me. The emotion that Hal gives is varied and strong, and the person who journeys through the darkness with him is the best he’s looked. The final page contains the biggest surprise of the issue and he looks amazing. Every page of this work is beautiful. Overall grade: A

The colors: Contributing to this book’s beauty are the colors by Alex Sinclair with Jeremiah Skipper. The first two pages are set at night and a violet is used to create darkness, rather than black. This is the correct choice, because any blacks would have made the art difficult to make out. The ship that appears on Page 2 is a terrific gold, making it an eye catcher against the violet sky. The lava that accompanies Batman’s arrival is a sizzling yellow and orange and reeks of danger. Hal Jordan and the character that attacks him in the Batcave have some slick coloring for their costumes and exposed skin, making the characters seem three dimensional. The second location that Batman goes to is an interior locale and uses blues to make it dark. Colors are absolutely key to the full-page splash on Page 16, as they assist in revealing what it is that’s being looked at. Blues are beautiful and cold in the Fortress of Solitude, allowing the individual that’s helping Batman to pop in every panel he’s in. The final page has some awesome colors not only for the character revealed, but for the closing dialogue. Excellent work. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Steve Wands is responsible for the Carter’s Hall journal, scene settings, dialogue, AI dialogue, sounds, yells, a whisper, the final dialogue of the book, the story’s title, and the book’s credits. The font used for Hall’s writings looks great, scene settings have an incredibly bold look that alerts the reader to a change in location, and the the final dialogue of the book is wonderfully maniacal. Wands should also be praised for the story’s title, which is perfectly insane. Wands, once again, delivers the goods. Overall grade: A+

The final line: A beautiful looking book, with a story that reveals nothing. Enjoyable, but would have been better had something been explicitly given to the reader. Pricey for a book that keeps everything so close to the chest. Overall grade: B+

To order a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Dark-Days-The-Forge-2017-1/digital-comic/504988?ref=c2VhcmNoL2luZGV4L2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC90b3BSZXN1bHRzU2xpZGVy

To see all three covers visit my Instagram page: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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