Review: Dark Days: The Forge #1

For those checking the website for the prelude to the next big DC event, at least until the Doomsday Clock strikes the hour later this year, on New Comic Book Day, apologies for the delay.  It’s just, and those who have read this book may agree, there is just so much going that even after reading it a couple of times, I am not sure where to start!

You see, despite being a vigilante in Gotham, Batman also has his gloved hands in a massive global conspiracy; a conspiracy so big that no other “big brain” DC character is even wise to it.  The conspiracy drives Batman across the globe and into contact with a raft of heroes, behind which a secret from long ago and a prisoner of sorts in the darkest corner of the Batcave all lie in wait.

The book is the brainchild of Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, who between them have racked up some pretty impressive Bat-air miles.  In their hands, this book should be spectacular and in places it certainly lives up to the billing.  The dialogue from the seemingly cast of thousands seems spot on with even the disgracefully underused Duke Thomas getting a fair crack of the action.  It’s the story, that I am unsure of.  Granted this is the first issue as such, and granted the questions raised cannot be answered here, but am I the only one who finds it a bit odd that only Batman is aware of what is going on?  There are other things that leave me a little confused; with all the “someone is coming” stuff in the regular books, how come those in “the know” are somehow excluded from this book.  Hal can just pop to Earth without Jess and Simon’s ring alerting them?  Worst of all, Mr Miracle can pop between the two different Earths at any given time, with no sense of logic to any of the signs and portents that have been alluded to since Rebirth #1.  Still all that said, I do miss the quality of Snyder’s early Detective Comics work and the world of darkness that Dick Grayson had to confront.

The art is by committee, and those that know me well, and my feelings on this matter, please resist the urge to drop to the next paragraph.  I was speaking to a very wise man of comic books long gone last week and he ventured that the art in a comic is what grabs the attention.  In relation to this book, he was 100% correct.  After the initial easy-going nature of Andy Kubert trying not to draw like Jim Lee, we get the a rare treat from Mr Lee himself.  Jim Lee is to modern storytelling what the likes of Kirby and Ditko were in the days of yore.  There is a dynamism in nearly every panel, ramped up to high levels in the action scenes.  However, I do feel a level of sadness when I look at Jim Lee’s art, a sadness borne from missed deadlines that means that no matter how good the product, if the audience can’t get it when advertised, then it is just self-defeating.  A quick shout out to the third artist on show, the much maligned John Romita Jr.  For the art to work, there needs to be a synergy of sorts between creator and character.  Despite how good Romita Jr is, I am not sure that Batman or Superman are characters that play to his strengths.  I would much prefer to see him on a Nightwing book for example.  The trio is joined  by their long time inking cohorts in Scott Williams. the incomparable Klaus Janson and Danny Miki.  Colors are provided by the tandem of Alex Sinclair and Jeremiah Skipper.  So all in all, that’s eleven creators on a 34 page book!

I am sure that there are those out there who will think that this book is the greatest book of all time, possibly oblivious to the fact that for it work, all the other great books had to come first.  There will be those that will deride it for being yet another “event book”, hot on the heels of Marvel’s current love it or hate it, Secret Empire.  The truth, as always, lies somewhere in between.  Snyder, at least in my opinion, has always been good at the set up part of the story and this issues, with its easter eggs and nods to his New 52 run is by no means an exception.  But now, as with Jim Lee books shipping on time, I have learnt from experience and choose not to get carried away with the hype.  Instead, I lay a challenge to the crew of eleven with the cast of many story, the stage is set, now, impress me!

Writing -3
Art (Kubert) – 3 Stars
Art (Lee) – 5 Stars
Art (Romita Jr) – 3.5
Colors – 4 Stars

(W) Scott Snyder, James TynionIV (A) Andy Kubert, John Romita, Klaus Janson, Danny Miki (A/CA) Jim Lee, Scott Williams

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