Dark Days: The Forge #1
Written by: Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV
Art by: Jim Lee, Andy Kubert, John Romita Jr.
Inks by: Scott Williams, Klaus Janson and Danny Miki
This is it. The beginning of the next huge arc in DC Comics and it begins with the final journal of Carter Hall. As he recounts the moment, years in the past when he and his advisors and princess rode out into the desert and discovered the greatest mystery in the history of mankind. In the present, a scientist is awaiting his death at the hands of a volcano about to explode when he is rescued by Batman and Aquaman as they are forced to go through the volcano to escape. When Arthur confronts Bruce about the Black Site his company was running in the domain of Atlantis, we get our first clue that this is a mystery that Bruce is keeping close to the chest. We also see that Batman is not the only interested party following this mystery.
On Mogo, Hal Jordan is summoned to see Ganthet. The guardian tasks the Green Lantern with a secret mission that will bring him back to Earth to stop a threat at a location that stops the hero cold momentarily. When we next see him it is at the location of the threat that must be contained: Wayne Manor. As Hal makes his way to the Batcave, he is confronted by Duke Thomas, who has strict orders to keep everyone out, including family. Meanwhile, at a secret location, the Immortal Man is contemplating a mystery that Batman is getting too close to and that happens to involve Duke Thomas’ mother.
Carter’s journal continues to tell the tale and in it, we discover that the Nth metal that gave him his eternal life also gives him brief insight into a larger mystery. One that shows a direct connection to the Dark Knight himself. Bruce himself has transported to the Lunar Batcave in order to upload the scientists’ research into the Bat Computer. He is confronted by Mr. Terrific who has apparently been working for Batman gathering information from a parallel Earth. As Batman gets a spark of an idea, he tells Terrific that it’s time to let someone out of the box because he’s going to be needed. Someone that is completely unexpected given the severity of this story, but interesting nonetheless.
In the Batcave, Hal and Duke have found another hidden cave. As Hal tries to make his way through, he finds that there is interference with his ring and a voice in the darkness offering to explain to the two men where they are and why. As they move deeper, the voice explains to them about a discovery Batman made directly linked to the Court of Owls and subsequently, to some of the most powerful artifacts on Earth. A discovery that leads the pair to a giant metal door at the end of the hidden cave.
Batman travels to the Fortress of Solitude and confronts Superman. Apparently, the Man of Steel agreed to allow Bruce to have a room deep underneath the fortress that no one was allowed to enter, including Clark. Bruce tells him that he needs to enter that room alone and only Mr. Miracle can open the lock to it. Scott is visibly shaken when he opens the door and warns Bruce about what he has in there. As Bruce begins the next step in his investigation, Hal and Duke discover the source of the voice and it is insane who it actually is.
This is the way to start a story arc. There were so many elements that touched on stories we knew from the past, characters that we might have forgotten about and revelations big and small that can have a huge impact on the story going forward. First and foremost, I love Bruce in this story. The greatest interpretations of Batman as a character are the ones where he is the World’s Greatest Detective operating six moves or more ahead of everyone else around him. Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV have really captured that aspect of Bruce in this first issue. There is a fierce intelligence to his actions. A stoic, single-minded need to solve this mystery. The writers convey that in every panel and manage to engage the reader in the next part of the mystery going forward.
I’ve rarely felt both attuned to the mystery of this story and clueless as to where it could possibly go at the same time and that is thrilling. Every character introduced in this story so far is one I want to see more of. I want to know what their part in this mystery is and where it’s going. There’s a feeling that Batman knows more than even we do from the information on the page and I want to know what he does.
The mystery and plot of this book is bolstered by how stunning the artwork is. DC has gotten three of my all-time favorite artists to visually excite with each page. All of their visual styles work with this story. Every panel has perfect detail that made my eye linger on the page and each artist was able to bring scale and energy to their pages. I cannot wait to see where this story goes. It hooked me from the first few pages and I am eager to see what and who comes next.