This certainly feels like “the time” to revamp and retool comic book universes—I mean, it only takes several years to start things all over again, right? I have no idea if DC’s upcoming event Dark Nights: Metal is something along those lines—though I have heard the word “crisis” thrown being thrown about.
I read the first two issues of Marvel’s Secret Empire, but it was unable to hold my interest or encourage me to purchase some/all of the requisite tie-ins. (not saying it was a “bad” series, just saying it didn’t “drive” me to seek more out) Will Dark Nights: Metal be the same? In this post, I look at Dark Days: The Forge—the theoretical first comic (I think) in the “Metal” series—and try to suss it all out! (some spoiler images ahead)
My impression of the direction of Dark Nights: Metal based on Dark Days: Forge, is that this is writers Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV’s sort of conspiracy-theory meta-narrative magnum opus. On my other site Butterfly Language I get much more into these types of theories, but just to give you a very basic overview of what this first issue incorporates:
- Ancient Astronauts theory: that the Earth was visited by travelers from other planets in the distant past. This includes interpreting ancient books such as the Bible in such terms.
- Bermuda Triangle theory: basically, that weird shit happens at the Bermuda Triangle.
- “Black Site” theory: that various government and financially well-off entities (which would include somebody like Bruce Wayne) maintain secret areas in the world where they conduct experiments and all sorts of questionable shit.
- Hollow Earth theory: that the Earth is really hollow and all sorts of sentient creatures live in there.
- Lovecraftian theory: that there is some basis in truth regarding the works of H.P. Lovecraft, and “demons” live under the Earth (related to Hollow Earth theory).
- Illuminati theory: that there are secret societies of “illuminated” peeps “in the know” about the true origins of the universe.
…and so on. This should all not be surprising, as Snyder/Tynion earlier developed that whole “Eyes Wide Shut” Court of Owls stuff. It just feels like the next logical steps from those sorts of storylines.
The story itself goes back-and-forth from a journal narrative by Carter Hall (Hawkman), and the present-day w/Batman searching for some secret Thing & Green Lantern on Batman’s trail. Batman runs into a series of peeps including Aquaman, Mr. Terrific, Superman and Mr. Miracle; Green Lantern teams up with a teenager named Duke Thomas (who I don’t really know much about yet) who has some sort of Batman-type gear.
It’s hard to come up with a more detailed plot than that, because this book definitely feels extremely “prologuey”—which is to say, it’s written like in anticipation of something bigger (like, perhaps, the actual “Metal” book). Now, does that “work” as an actual story???
I would say it “works” in the following sense. This issue is a pretty nice-looking package. From the cover to the interiors (rendered by artists like Andy Kubert, John Romita Jr. and Jim Lee)…it just looks great. It’s the type of book you will keep flipping through. And so that sort of offsets the “exposition”-quality of some of the writing here.
But also…this story deals with stuff I truly find interesting. I feel intellectually engaged with enough of it to make me want to follow up. I’m especially intrigued by the further development/treatment of the Batman archetype in terms of what it means, where it comes from, and etc. The Batman cowl, in its most basic form, always seemed kind of “demonic”…where did that come from? Shit like that. It makes me think.
And then there is the whole idea that it feels as if Dark Days: Forge is literally setting up the nuts and bolts of what might shape the DCU years from now. It’s sort of complex stuff, and it’s wrapped up in all this alchemical/alien/Lovecraft-type imagery/terminology. And how will that be pulled off, if Dark Nights: Metal ends up being another Crisis On Infinite Earths-type gambit?
That’s all pretty good for $4.99. And honestly, as time goes on I feel more and more demanding of what I pay for a print comic. I don’t want a quick “one off” experience that I read within 15 minutes. Like…I really want something that I can turn back to and think about!
And so this may all end with me losing interest in the whole Dark Nights: Metal thing as well…it may, in the end, seem sort of inconsequential as many of these “Earth-shaking” events do seem.
But we will see.