Dark Days: The Casting #1
Written by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV
Art by Jim Lee, Andy Kubert, John Romita, Jr., Scott Williams, Klaus Janson, Danny Miki, Alex Sinclair, and Jeremiah Skipper
Lettering by Steve Wands
Published by DC Comics
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
While the first installment of the Dark Nights: Metal prequels dealt mainly in mystery and vague hints, Dark Days: The Casting #1 offers up delicious tension along with a heaping helping of hard clues and information about looming “Dark Crisis” that threatens to overtake the DC Universe.
Writers Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, who again display a smooth and compelling working partnership, divide the issue into a concurrent plot, set against DC’s wondrously weird and expansive history as we follow two men on the verge of answers they may not want to know. Snyder and Tynion keep the action bouncing between Hawkman’s exploits in the past and Batman’s increasingly feverish quest to answer the riddle of Nth Metal, each tied together by narration from the journal of Carter Hall. Both plots chug along with a steady build, offering a generous amount of clues as to the scale of the upcoming event, along with haunting visual callbacks to previous events and plenty of bitingly poetic dialogue.
Adding to the issue’s impressive build are artists Jim Lee, Andy Kubert, and John Romita, Jr., who bring a neat anthology feel to the overall experience. Giving the trio’s work dimension and definition are inkers Scott Williams, Klaus Janson, and Danny Miki, all of whom hammer home the “triple feature” feel of the expansive story and makes these prelude issues feel like a true Bat-Family affair, given each of these creators’ unique histories portraying the Dark Knight. Made whole by the moody, mercurial colors of Alex Sinclair and Jeremiah Skipper, Dark Days: The Casting #1 is a crescendo as the curtain rises on Dark Nights: Metal.
For those frustrated or left cold by the vague hints of The Forge, rest assured The Casting holds little back and best of all, it makes getting to those answers pretty dang fun in the process. Opening on a flashback starring Hawkman and Hawkgirl bringing together immortals from across the DCU, Snyder and Tynion’s script delivers a pretty propulsive plot and deliver much of the hard truths about the upcoming event, gradually revealing more and more as the issue goes on. The pair foster a real sense of discovery for the reader, allowing us to know something right when the characters know it. Instead of just being handed information whole cloth, we are participating in the mystery along with the heroes.
And boy, are the clues that Snyder and Tynion drop some doozies. Toward the end of the issue, these reveals can get a bit overwhelming as you find out one thing after another in rapid succession. This becomes especially apparent in the scene of the Joker walking Hal and Duke through his post-“Death of the Family” resurrection and how the Nth Metal factored into it. Shortly thereafter, Snyder and Tynion drop bombshells about Duke and how the metal has dug its hooks into Batman and… it’s a lot. But all that said, The Casting builds wonderfully and then somewhat pays that off, at least as much as a prelude issue can. I was excited about Metal before, but this issue has me even more hyped.
Helming this issue’s art duties are Jim Lee, Andy Kubert, and John Romita, Jr. Each are given rigid settings and characters to work with, with Lee handling the Cave Alpha plot, Kubert the globetrotting adventures of Hawkman, and Romita tackling an epic trek through wild lands with Batman and Wonder Woman. While I would have love to have seen more overlap between the three stories, their work here makes the issue feel like a particularly cohesive anthology entry with each penciler handing their action and scale off to the other with little resistance. Keeping everything clear are the strong bench of inkers and colorists: Scott Williams, Danny Miki, Klaus Janson, Alex Sinclair, and Jeremiah Skipper. Though Batman’s world may be chaotic, you would never know thanks to the steady hands and sharp pens of the strong roster of artists gathered to usher in Dark Days
The first issue of Metal is still a month away, but Dark Days: The Casting #1 gives us a prelude that really sells the hell out of the upcoming event and gives us juuuuust enough to tide us over until that first issue drops. Batman may have learned to master the dark and instill fear in his foes, but after Dark Days: The Casting, the Caped Crusader may start to fear what lurks in the dark.