This week saw the release of DC Comics’ big event one-shot, Dark Days: The Forge, by superstar creators Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Jim Lee, Andy Kubert and John Romita, Jr., and as you’d expect, it was packed full of revelations for the evolving DC Universe. Not only does it have ramifications for the world going forward and set up future series like Dark Nights: Metal and Immortal Men, it also returns several classic DC characters and concepts to the fold. If you want to go into it fresh, now is the time to turn back, because there are spoilers ahead!
The first character to return arrives on the very first page of the issue, as we are shown scenes from the journals of Carter Hall—the Golden Age version of Hawkman. DC recently rid themselves of the Thanagarian space cop version in the Death of Hawkman miniseries, clearing the way for the return of the classic version, an ancient Egyptian man who is cursed to perpetually die and reincarnate, along with his lover. Here we see that he has been investigating the history and properties of Nth Metal, the magical substance that makes his flying harness work, so he seems to be approaching the same mystery as Batman, but from a different angle.
Batman, it is revealed in this issue, has been looking into various seemingly magical metals that he has encountered throughout his adventures, including Nth Metal, the Court of Owls’ electrum, Dr. Fate’s helmet, Green Lantern’s ring, and some mysterious substance that lies beneath Atlantis. To investigate this, he’s set up several secret geological labs around the world, and has enlisted the help of a few allies. The first is Mister Terrific, who returns from his extended stay on Earth 2 in this issue, where he’d been looking into that world’s similar substances. Batman also has a black-ops team hunting down the metals’ secrets, and it’s one that will look very familiar to longtime DC fans: The Outsiders. We are not told much about the team or its origins, but we do know that it’s made up of Metamorpho, Black Lightning, Katana, Halo, and Geo-Force, and that they’ve been working in secret for Batman for a long time.
We only get a single cryptic panel of Batman’s final ace-in-the-hole, but he appears to be a crucial piece of the plan. That panel shows Plastic Man—who has not been seen in any major capacity pretty much since the start of the New 52—shaped as a huge egg and hooked up to a strange machine in the Bat-Cave. Could the substance that gave him his powers have contained one of the metals Batman is researching? We don’t get any answers as to why he’s been missing, or what’s wrong with him, but I for one am very excited to see the return of one of DC’s best characters to comics.
However, those are not the only subterranean secrets that Batman has been hiding. Beneath the Fortress of Solitude, behind a door that Superman agreed never to open, Batman has been hiding the iconic dimensional tuning tower from Crisis on Infinite Earths and Infinite Crisis—though no longer with the Anti-Monitor fused to it. This immediately brings into question how much of those two events remain in this new continuity, but more importantly, what purpose could Batman possibly have for keeping this artifact? It seems drastic even for him. Finally, as Duke Thomas and Hal Jordan find out in the issue’s closing pages, in a secret cave within a secret cave, Batman has been holding a prisoner who seems to know all of the secrets he’s been hiding: The Joker.
There are a lot of questions raised here, with not many answers, so we’ll have to keep reading with Dark Days: The Casting arrives on July 12th, followed by Dark Nights: Metal in August. But there is a lot to dig into here, and we’d love to hear your theories and hopes for the future of the Rebirthed DCU in the comments below!