Spoilers ahead for this week's Dark Days: The Forge #1.
This week's Dark Days: The Forge by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Jim Lee, Andy Kubert, and John Romita Jr. was filled with Easter eggs for DC fans, not only teasing what will come in the summer event comics Dark Nights: Metal, but also revealing some fan-favorite returns and a possible new "Crisis."
What were the main teases? And what do they all mean? Newsarama put together a list of some of the more notable moments from Dark Days: The Forge with some conjecture about what comes next:
As DC fans know, the word "crisis" is pretty significant when it's used within the DCU. More than once in DC's history, the company used the title "Crisis" to refer to continuity-altering and earth-shattering events involving the entire DCU (and often its multiple alternate earths too).
Most significant was the 1985 mini-series Crisis on Infinite Earths, which killed off major characters, eliminated entire worlds, and rebooted the universe.
Dark Days: The Forge actually used the word "crisis" at one point, when the Immortal Man said the "world of public heroes is careening toward a crisis unlike anything they've seen before."
But the use of the word wasn't the Forge's only reference to a Crisis.
That tower - the one Batman accessed underneath the Fortress of Solitude - is actually an artifact from the original Crisis on Infinite Earths.
It's known as a cosmic tuning fork, one of several structures built in the original Crisis by the Monitor to combat the world destruction that was happening at the time.
The theory is that DC's multiverse is made up of alternate earths that occupy the same space but have different vibrational frequencies.
Batman is using this tuning fork tower to track the exact vibrational frequency of what he calls "the Dark." He's apparently retrieved bits and pieces about the Dark's vibrational frequency from Mr. Terrific's travels to Earth-2, as well as other dark-ops teams and research.
Finding the vibrational frequency of the Dark, we assume, will lead Batman to discover the Dark Multiverse — a place that apparently has not-so-nice alternate possibilities (according to Snyder's description in Newsarama's interview with the writer about Dark Nights: Metal).
The Joker's presence is mysterious - what's he doing in a secret part of the Batcave? Did Bruce Wayne capture him and lock him away there?
However, one thing that's clear (according to our interview with Snyder about Metal) is that he's not connected to the mystery of the Three Jokers (teased during Geoff Johns' Justice League story, where Batman learned on the Mobius chair that there are actually three Jokers). In fact, Snyder said that although he is aware of that story's direction, he's not dealing with it in Metal.
Snyder instead told Newsarama that Joker's significance here is more about his ability to narrate and explain Batman's obsession with the immortality-related metal.
Readers will remember that Joker claimed to be immortal during Snyder's Batman run, and both he and Bruce Wayne used an element called dionesium to revive after both dying.
That element is referred to in the Joker's scene with Hal Jordan and Duke Thomas. It's compared to similar artifacts and elements that have been tied to immortality during both Snyder's Batman run and other stories in the DCU.
Another important things to note: When Hal Jordan pointed his ring toward the Joker, his Green Lantern ring indicated that there was an anomaly detected. Is this version of the Joker the anomaly?
Is this a Joker from the Dark Multiverse? After all, Snyder told Newsarama that Dark Nights: Metal would explore what happens if the "dark possibilities" of the Dark Multiverse invade. Is this the start of the invasion? Is that why Hal's ring is so freaked out? Or is it some other strange anomaly tied to the Nth Metal and the existence of a prisoner Joker in Batman's cave-basement?
Another fun reveal that brought a smile to Mr. Terrific's face: Plastic Man is returning to the DCU.
And quite frankly, it's about time.
Although the character doesn't exactly show up in Dark Days: The Forge, his symbol on that egg-shaped someone indicates the character who Terrific and Batman are letting out of the "box" is Plastic Man.
The powerful character, who has been a staple on the Justice League in the past, has been pretty absent from DCU stories since before the "New 52" relaunch in 2011. The only appearances he made were in a brief scene in New 52's Justice League International #1, where he was considered for membership, and in a couple other cameo-type appearances.
Plastic Man has super strength and abilities thanks to his power to stretch and re-shape his body into any number of forms. Plus he's invulnerable to most types of attacks.
If Batman's going to go into the Dark Multiverse (or allow its alternate possibilities to come into the DCU), he'll need all the help he can get, and Plastic Man is a good start.
New and Old Characters
A few specific teams were mentioned in Dark Days that were significant:
The Outsiders: In Dark Days, the Joker shares knowledge about Bruce Wayne's dark-ops team the Outsiders, made up of Metamorpho, Black Lightning, Katana, Halo, and Geo-Force.
This is a familiar team for long-time DC fans. They've had their own title off and on over the years, and their inclusion in this scene indicates they could be part of Dark Nights: Metal, which would be a nice reunion of sorts for fans.
Four tribes: There's a scene in Dark Days where Hawkman says he discovered that the story of the metal began with three tribes. The images of a hawk, a bear and a wolf are shown.
The symbols probably refer to: - The Immortal Man (whom we see separately), who was formerly shown to be part of the Bear Tribe.
- Vandal Savage, who was part of the Wolf Clan and is also immortal.
- Hawkman, or some similar character, since Hawkman wasn't technically around since the beginning of time.
And in the same scene, Hawkman adds a fourth tribe - one with the symbol of a bat.
Now, readers will remember that Batman was around in the ancient past of the DCU, when he was tossed back in time during Final Crisis and Grant Morrison's Batman run. Whether Hawkman's reference to an ancient "bat" tribe refers to that story or not is a mystery, but it might be a fun reference, since Snyder has previously indicated that he's a fan of Morrison's run.
Of course, the addition of the bat symbol might just signify Batman's upcoming role in the tribal fight.
The Immortal Men: The team shown in Dark Days and referred to as the "Immortal Men" are most certainly directly tied to the October-launching Immortal Men title by James Tynion IV and Jim Lee.
In fact, one of the characters shown in Dark Days has the exact design as one of the sketches used to publicize the Immortal Men title (the vapor-faced man labeled in the sketches as "Ghost Fist").
The Blackhawks: This team hails all the way back to Golden Age of comic books, when they were pilots who fought during World War II. They've been revived a few times since, usually with Lady Blackhawk (who's specifically mentioned in Dark Days) on the team.
Their most recent appearance was in Snyder's All-Star Batman run, where they didn't seem to be fighting for good, although the true motivation for their mission is still mysterious. And Batman still doesn't seem happy about their secret attacks on him.
Other key characters
Hawkman and Hal Jordan will likely play significant roles in Dark Nights: Metal, since they're both set up as central players in the story of Dark Days.
Mister Miracle's role was fitting for the character, as he's always been known as an expert escape artist, and someone who could most definitely pick an otherworldly lock like the one at the Fortress of Solitude in Dark Days.
Mister Terrific was a surprise character, and his role may be ongoing. That's not necessarily a good thing, because the last time Batman and Terrific worked together, they created Brother Eye, who ended up taking over the world in the future (in Futures End.)
But Duke Thomas' future hinges on the story in Dark Days, according to our discussions with Scott Snyder.
"By the time the second issue [of Dark Days, titled Dark Days: The Casting] comes out," Snyder said, "my hope is that we'll be able to talk about openly Duke's role in the Bat-universe coming up." Because, as Dark Days: The Forge pointed out, the teen currently has no code name.
Time for the Dark
It's also notable that the language of Dark Days was, well… dark. Batman had a "black"-ops team and a "black"-ops site. He loaded his information into the "shadow" drive. Ganthet felt a "stirring in the dark." And of course, the Blackhawks aren't exactly white fluffy doves.
All the language used by Tynion and Snyder most certainly foreshadows the discovery by Batman (and, we assume, Hawkman at some point, since he's so freaked out by it) of the Dark Multiverse.
Snyder told Newsarama that the Dark Multiverse is an "ocean of possibility" that is filled with "reactive matter." And Dark Nights: Metal will explore, what if these dark possibilities invade?
We've already heard a lot about the dark energy promised by Snyder, and Dark Days: The Casting will take us even further as readers head toward Snyder and Greg Capullo's Dark Nights: Metal.