Dark Days: The Casting is the 2nd prologue to the upcoming Dark Nights: Metal event. As I noted in my review of the 1st prologue, Dark Days: The Forge, these books are a little…prologuey. There’s just a lot of “set-up,” laying the groundwork for “Metal”—basically, a gigantic conspiracy “meta-theory” incorporating alchemy, aliens, secret societies, and more.
And considering that one of the main focuses in “Metal” is Batman, who is essentially a more “ground-level” superhero—how does he fare in such a cosmic storyline? And for that matter…how does the Joker, who showed up out of nowhere at the end of “Forge,” fit in? (spoilers ahead, though the Joker reveal is on the front cover of “Casting” so I think I’m cool there)
But who cares? It’s the Joker. Drawn by Jim Lee and John Romita Jr. Slapping the crap out of Green Lantern with a crowbar Jason Todd-style.
Sure, it’s a shameless crowd-pleaser—but to be fair, writer Scott Snyder has been building a larger literal “mythology” around both Batman and the Joker for a while now. In that sense, these two prologues—and probably “Metal,” as well—are only expanding on that theme.
“Casting” opens up with a continuation of Carter Hall’s journals, with a flashback of Hawkman and Hawkgirl facing down a secret society. There’s a lot of talk of a mysterious metal (WHICH IS THE KEY TO EVERYTHING) that I’m assuming is the nth metal from Hawkman lore. We then switch to Batman continuing his alchemical quest (and that’s pretty much what it is) from last issue, visiting Wonder Woman and being warned that “a war is coming” and that “the gods have abandoned the Earth.” The key to all these momentous events? That pesky metal again.
Back in the Batcave, Green Lantern is facing off against the Joker alongside Bat-associate Duke Johnson. Joker no longer has his messy “sewn back” face on, and claims to have been healed by a mysterious “green metal” while in the Batcave.
Again, it’s weird to see Joker matched against a more “cosmic” superhero like Green Lantern…but clearly him and Batman are being positioned as characters with a cosmic mythological importance. It alo seems like the “Bat-mythology” is being placed in relation to the “Hawk-mythology,” as if they are somehow ancient adversaries or whatnot.
As you can see here, there are a lot of “DaVinci Code”-type clues and “what-ifs” here, but not a tremdendous amount of actual story. But the clues seem to be the purpose of the these prologues—I don’t think they really pretend to be anything other than that.
To sweeten the deal, as with “Forge,” you get Jim Lee and John Romita Jr. drawing the Joker slamming the crap out of Green Lantern with a crow-bar—plus very Joe Kubert-esque illustrations of the Hawkman sequences by Andy Kubert. It’s looks great. The cover is great. It’s a nice package. It is what it is, it does the job. And the “clues” within will probably be referenced all throughout “Metal” so they end up becoming must-haves to walk into the event with some semblance of what is going on.
The issue ends with an obscured look at the “Dark Knights”…shadowy versions of Batman, some with familiar logos like Wonder Woman’s double-W. What does it all mean?
Many, many crossovers and spinoffs. Many crossovers and spinoffs.
Many crossovers and spinoffs.
Many crossovers and spinoffs.
More To Read On Fantasy Merchant:
Review: “Dark Days: The Forge”
Review: Secret Empire #1
Review Bits: Trinity, Scooby Apocalypse, Funko X-Files, Reggie And Me