Hints of a hero’s return in Dark Days: The Forge #1

DC Comics launched it latest nothing-will-ever-be-the-same epic this week with the release of Dark Days: The Forge #1, itself a prelude to Dark Nights: Metal, and there were surprises and Easter eggs a-plenty. Of course, around here we’re mainly concerned with one big egg in particular.

Spoilers ahoy!

Like most preludes, this issue spends most of its time setting the scene and putting its characters into place. And like most DC comics, Batman is at the center of it. There is a mystery surrounding the enigmatic Nth metal, an ore primarily associated with Hawkman and which has gained a variety of properties over the years. Lately, it’s also been tied to Lazarus Pits, the Court of Owls, and a handful of other life-extending MacGuffins, and Batman is determined to get to the bottom of things. (As usual, a secret Batman investigation quickly becomes an extinction-level event.)

In the course of his inquiry, Batman travels around the globe and crosses paths with fellow heroes, including Mr. Terrific, who’s waiting right in the Batcave. Terrific has been secretly gathering data for Bats on Earth 2. Batman realizes things are escalating and says, “It’s time to let him out of the box.”

Then we see this:

Dark_Days_Forge_01_18

Dark_Days_Forge_01_19

What?! That’s where Plastic Man has been all this time, imprisoned in a direct reference to The Dark Knight Strikes Again deep in the Batcave?! Obviously, I have questions:

First of all, why has Batman taken it upon himself to lock up Plastic Man? He mentions that “we all agreed he was too unstable,” but what does that mean? Is Plas supposed to be psychologically unstable? (Please, for the love of Cole, no.) Or is he physically unstable? That could make sense, and might set up an interesting storyline in the future.

Secondly, and maybe more importantly, does the “we” in “we all agreed” include Plastic Man himself? For the sake of the character, and this supposedly lighter and “fun” reimagining of the DCU,  I certainly hope so.

At least Mr. Terrific looks happy about freeing Plas! I’ll take that as a good sign.

The rest of the story feels like fairly standard scene-setting, with solid writing from Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV. One quibble I have is Batman’s characterization, which seems a little schizophrenic: At some points in the story, he treats his fellow heroes with respect, and both thanks some for their help and apologizes for not being able to be more open about what he’s doing. But at other points he seems to be back to his dismissive and arrogant self, which frankly is way beyond its past-due date. As you might expect which three different artists, the tone is a bit all over the place, with Andy Kubert seeming to be the best fit for the story. (Personally, I’m not a fan of John Romita, Jr.’s work, and his pages tended to take me right out of the story.) All of these guys are experienced pros, so your own personal preferences may vary.

I’ll admit that I haven’t been keeping up with monthly issues for a while now. But I’ve been intrigued by the assurances from DC that its comics will be getting back to their roots, and hey, there’s even plenty of precedent for a Plas/Batman team-up. I’m in.

Needless to say, I’m beyond excited to see Plastic Man’s return to the DCU! The only way DC could make it better is if they bring back Woozy Winks, too. In the meantime, I can’t wait to see what they do with Plas once they crack him out of that giant Silly Putty egg.

  • Dark Days: The Forge #1
  • Writers: Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV
  • Pencillers: Jim Lee, Andy Kubert, John Romita, Jr.
  • Inkers: Scott Williams, Klaus Janson, Danny Miki
  • Colorist: Alex Sinclair (with Jeremiah Skipper)
  • Letterer: Steve Wands
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