First off, what the writers and artists have said about Dark Days: The Forge is absolutely true: They have been “setting up this story for years,” or at the very least, they discovered in preexisting stories where they can organically build on the DC Universe (DCU). However, the ways that they build onto the DCU do not provide an unnecessary and unintended barrier to new readers. If you are a new reader, it will be accessible to you, and it sets up what seems to be the beginning of a great story. If you know your DC history, though, it will resonate with you on multiple levels.
In my last review of Batman #24 (http://bit.ly/2rLCI4x), I incorporated a comment from Geoff Johns on the DC Rebirth movement, and if there is one pet peeve I have, it is redundancy. However, the circumstances of Dark Days: The Forge merit repeating what Johns said: “You build on what’s come before and try and add some things that people can build on later.”
Throughout its history, the DC Universe has had multiple events and stories that defined its aesthetics and mythos: Marv Wolfman and George Pérez’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, Geoff Johns and Phil Jimenez’s Infinite Crisis and, more recently, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s The Court of Owls. No doubt, there have been many other stories and events that define–and are still defining–DC’s aesthetics, so I include only three for the sake of brevity. First, I draw attention to both Crises and The Court of Owls because readers have healthily speculated the reasons for some of the narrative openings in the stories, and secondly, I draw attention to them because Snyder and James Tynion IV capitalize on those openings in this prelude to Dark Days: The Casting and Dark Nights: Metal. I will also add that many characters in the New 52 who seemingly disappeared or whose titles were cancelled are accounted for, so some readers will be pleasantly surprised to see some characters return.
The idea of (re)constructing an organic DC Universe was what Johns sought to do with Rebirth, and what is fun in the first issue of this event is that Snyder and Tynion IV play with this idea in a metafictional way. The issue begins with written commentary from a character, who will remain unnamed: “There is a feeling you get at the beginning of an adventure…you feel it in your veins, the channels, your heart starts pounding…beating only for discovery.” Through such commentary, the narrative speaks on two levels: On one level, we are of course receiving the words from the character, who is perhaps a seasoned “adventurer,” so to speak. On another level, this idea parallels the fact that we are literally reading the beginning of an adventure in the DC Universe, and interspersed throughout the issue are other comments that implicitly speak to the fact that they are writing a new story directly in relation to the existing Crises and (among many others) The Court of Owls.
I will end this spoiler-free review by saying that this event raised the alarm across the DC Universe. It’s an “All Hands on Deck!” that will be sure to take us for a ride! The next issue, Dark Days: The Casting, releases on July 12, so get to your local comic shop and reserve your copy!
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