These days comic books fans are all too familiar with 'event fatigue,' as publishers race from one massive, sprawling storyline or conflict to the next, swelling a reader's pull list out of necessity, not excitement. But with the newly-announced Dark Days one-shots coming from DC, it's a mystery years in the making that readers will see returned to the spotlight in just TWO issues - setting the stage for an "all fun, summer blockbuster" event from one of DC's most popular and acclaimed creative teams.
The exact mystery to be explored isn't clear, but with the talent assembled fans are in for a memorable game-changer either way. And judging by the early language, DC Comics is making an effort to give the artists of the event equal billing to the writers (as it should be). With the likes of Jim Lee, Andy Kubert, and John Romita, Jr. working in tandem with writers Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, we know two things for certain: the work will be top-notch across the board, and it will most certainly be centered on Batman.
First things first, those curious to know how to keep up to date on DC's next mega-event (and there really haven't been that many since the New 52 relaunch) will want to mark their calendars for the release of Dark Days: The Forge on June 14th, as well as Dark Days: The Casting on July 12th. Promised to "reveal the dark underbelly of the DC Universe," artist and co-publisher Jim Lee explains that Dark Days was conceived of not just by the writers or DC editorial, but with the artists as well - a new level of collaboration that will (hopefully) lead to successful results:
“Working with Scott and James on DARK DAYS is the culmination of the big ideas and endless brainstorming that came out of a recent creative summit. It was tremendous fun having peers like Andy Kubert and JRJR in with some of our top writers. Strategically, [co-publisher Dan DiDio] and I have talked for a long time about bringing the artist back to the table in the genesis of big, epic events. The creative summit was just that, and the level of collaboration was truly invigorating and electrifying. We can’t wait to share DARK DAYS with the DC faithful…they’re in for a thrill ride!”
The single piece of artwork released for The Forge promises some intense imagery and stakes, with Batman standing before a Hellish landscape filled by a massive statue of an armored version of himself, with countless human bodies tied to its legs. The first thought of many viewers will be a terrible 'dark future' that the heroes must keep from coming true... while we can't confirm or deny that premise in these Dark Days one-shots, we can say that looks may prove deceiving, according to the minds behind the story.
The art is what fans have come to expect from artists of Lee's caliber and events of this scale, but Scott Snyder again emphasizes the collaboration between story and style... while also revealing that as 'new' as this story may be, it's one he hinted at throughout his run on DC's Batman series from the New 52 onward:
"Art like this demands an epic story. DARK DAYS posits a mystery that traces all the way back to when I started on BATMAN. I've hinted at them over the years with Easter eggs and clues. This is a mystery that literally begins at the dawn of man and spans generations of heroes and villains and ultimately leads to huge revelations about the past, present and future of the cosmology of DC. I couldn't be more excited for DARK DAYS. It's the prelude to the event we've been developing for years."
James Tynion IV adds his own agreement that Dark Days is a case of taking the work done in Snyder's Batman and his own recent run in Detective Comics to the scale of the DC Universe as a whole. Not to mention the fact that artists like Kubert, Lee and Romita are pushing their own efforts "to the extreme." But believe us, what's every bit as exciting as The Forge and The Casting is the massive event that it will be acting as a "prelude" to - one that Snyder has been teasing for months as the kind of event that comic fans everywhere have been starving for.
When asked directly on Twitter if the events to follow Dark Days were the same ones he teased would see him re-teaming with his acclaimed Batman artistic partner Greg Capullo, Snyder confirmed that to be the case. And while the Dark Days name might seem at odds with the "optimism and hope" Geoff Johns established as DC's new mandate, Snyder says fans can rest easy, since his and Capullo's coming event will be "all fun, all summer blockbuster. Heroes rocking the f out."
Believe us when we tell you that - as any avid reader of the New 52 Batman run - Snyder and Capullo know how to bring some insanity and crazy adventure to the Dark Knight.Still not convinced Dark Days will be the first step to an even more exciting event? Here's how Snyder described the event to CBR back in December when he, Capullo, and Johns were still conceiving it:
"Above all, what I really want it to be for fans is to not have it feel like the kind of event that we’ve seen before. I love DC events. They’re bonkers and wonderful, but generally, they refer back to continuity, or they are all about where the line is at that moment in time... What I want this one to be is different. I want it built out of the stories happening now and creating new material and giving everybody a place to tell stories that fit what they’re doing on their books, and feels really modern and different and above all fun.
"I don’t want it to be grim. I don’t want it to be superheroes arguing over something. Superheroes won’t be fighting superheroes. I want it to be celebratory, and huge, and crazy. I am going for out of control dinosaurs and lasers. It should be fun."
The comment of superheroes fighting superheroes may refer to a few things, depending on each reader. But from Captain America: Civil War to Batman V Superman, or Marvel's Civil War II to a few titles in DC's Rebirth, the hurdles to enjoyment in seeing heroes be forced to fight eachother have been well documented. And if "dinosaurs and lasers" are the kind of fun that Snyder and Capullo are after, and Dark Days is what sets the stage for that spectacle, then DC Comics just gave comic fans everywhere an event to look forward to.
Dark Days: The Forge releases June 14, 2017. Dark Days: The Casting follows on July 12, 2017.