The Forge Dark Days

The past year or so has seen the classic “DC vs. Marvel” debate take on added significance due to the success of DC Rebirth and the faltering (to put it lightly) of Marvel under the tenure of Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso. There are many reasons for Marvel’s failures, but DC’s Dark Days: The Forge #1 shines a giant Bat-Signal spotlight on one of them.

The bottom line is that DC, whether it’s something like The Button or Dark Days: The Forge, is telling good old-fashioned “yarns” because it’s actually concentrating on big ideas — namely the issue of Good vs. Evil.

The Forge #1 is a tale that revolves around two beings — one of goodness and light, the other of darkness and evil — who are granted immortality via a mysterious metal and then tasked to fight each other in cycles of reincarnation. Batman’s discovery of the metal prompted a years-long investigation into its origin, which led him down a dangerous rabbit hole. It’s one that no man — even Bruce Wayne — should explore.

What separates modern DC from Marvel is that the former is willing to explore ideas of good and evil in serious ways. If you pick up most Marvel comics, then what you’ll find is moral relativist heroes fighting each other over a catty disagreements; and heroes fighting villains in a “going through the motions” manner because that’s what they’ve always done; political allegories that primarily use characters as vehicles to vent anger at [insert politician here].”

Out of all the comics I’ve read over the past two years, I think only Charles Soule’s Daredevil confronted a character described as truly “evil.” When most Marvel heroes talk about good and evil, they do so in ironic Deadpool-speak.

Paraphrase [insert hero here]: “Do you think we’ll come out of this one alive? Of course we will — we’re the good guys!”

People who believe good and evil are real — not just artificial constructs in a godless universe — typically do not become jaded. If you believe that your life has meaning and is intrinsically good, then you are not prone to hold life in contempt.

DC appears to have enough writers and editors on its staff who understand this, who are genuinely inquisitive about big issues, and then willing to appropriately use their iconic stable of characters to explore them.

Marvel, on the other hand, appears to be populated with a cloister of bitter moral relativists who write books for a small population of philosophical malcontents. Then, when their screeds don’t sell, they rhetorically lash out at fans for not being embracing Mighty Marvel Pessimism Pods.

I don’t know too much about Dan DiDio, but I do know quality work when I see it. I got into DC in a significant way for the first time in my life this year, and I don’t plan on leaving anytime soon as long as I keep getting books like The Button and Dark Days: The Forge.

Kudos to DC’s creative team for a job well done.

Editor’s Note: I’ll be reviewing Dark Days: The  Forge #1 on my YouTube channel soon. If you haven’t already subscribed, then please do. I don’t always have time to transfer the videos over to WordPress as quickly as I’d prefer.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

11 comments

  1. Hey Doug I know a comic you would love. It is called My Hero Academia and it is a Japanese comic that is a Japanese take on American style superheroes.

  2. Just watched your video review, good stuff as usual. As for Patreon, I wish you the best, I don’t think your channel is too small for Patreon at all. I’m honestly in a tight financial place at this point in my life, so I can’t afford to contribute anything at the moment, but I wish you well regardless(when things pick up in the future I may well become a contributor).

    As for your statement about subscribers watching your videos in high numbers, here’s my two cents on why I always watch your videos. Firstly, they are always concise and get to the point. You obviously have a clear goal in mind when making them, which cuts off most of the fat.

    Second, I also appreciate the length of your videos. As a busy person who doesn’t always have much time, videos like yours are nice as they don’t often require much of a time investment. It’s not that I have anything against longer videos, but the reality of the real world means that I often have to choose wisely how I spend my free time. For instance, I also often enjoy the videos of other content creators like Capn Cummings and Diversity & Comics, but given their stream of consciousness delivery, their videos tend to stretch on a bit longer, so sometimes I don’t get to all of their content.

    As for your dive into DC Comics, congratulations on expanding your horizons. There’s a lot of good stuff to be found there too. Juse curious, have you at least read some of their more famous classics like Batman Year One, Kingdom Come, etc.? Anyways, I do have one serious suggestion for you when it comes to DC Comics. If you haven’t already I highly recommend that you read Superman for All Seasons. It’s a bit of an overlooked gem from Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. It’s a really uplifting book that shows why Superman is the good and heroic person that he is. No icky moral relativism to be found, just an inspiring tale about what makes a true hero.

    Cheers

    1. “I’m honestly in a tight financial place at this point in my life, so I can’t afford to contribute anything at the moment, but I wish you well regardless(when things pick up in the future I may well become a contributor).”

      I totally feel ya on that one, Admiral Petty. The guy who said it kind of annoyed me because he assumed that my goals for Patreon were the same goals he had when he tried it (or a similar platform). He acted like I haven’t thought about what I’m doing when everything I do on social media suggests that I put thought and effort into my work. He’s spoken to me off the grid and he knows that I’m inclined to think outside the box, but yet he’s still was comfortable playing wet blanket.

      “As for your statement about subscribers watching your videos in high numbers, here’s my two cents on why I always watch your videos. Firstly, they are always concise and get to the point. You obviously have a clear goal in mind when making them, which cuts off most of the fat.”

      Thanks! Yeah, I don’t particular like to go too much over eight minutes per video if I can help it. I might release the occasional 20-minute video if there is an industry story that is huge…but I think my longest video (beside a live stream with Mike McNulty) is around 15 minutes.

      “As a busy person who doesn’t always have much time, videos like yours are nice as they don’t often require much of a time investment. It’s not that I have anything against longer videos, but the reality of the real world means that I often have to choose wisely how I spend my free time.”

      That’s how I feel. I’ll listen tom Diversity and Comics or Capn. Cummings if I’m on a long car ride, but it’s much harder when I’m pressed for time.

      “As for your dive into DC Comics, congratulations on expanding your horizons. There’s a lot of good stuff to be found there too. Juse curious, have you at least read some of their more famous classics like Batman Year One, Kingdom Come, etc.?”

      I’ve read a few of the Batman classic storylines and I definitely read Kingdom Come years ago. Good stuff.

      “If you haven’t already I highly recommend that you read Superman for All Seasons. It’s a bit of an overlooked gem from Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale.”

      You had my interest piqued Loeb and Sale. 🙂

  3. Forge was a great book to kick off this series, and if chalk full of stuff for fans of older DC stuff.

    DC isn’t fully immune to the modern political nonsense, but generally they don’t discuss them with such a ham fisted, I’m right you’re wrong attitude. Only one example I can really think of right now and that is from a Steve Trevor special.

  4. you’ll recognize me as Wes Collins from YouTube but I’ll be clear about something before I get into the usual:

    Dan DiDio is a blight to DC. He’s responsible for the New 52 and DC going down the rabbit hole for 5 years before basically higher ups at WB and Geoff Johns (who is THE BIGGEST DC fanboy) got promoted to Kevin Feige level status on the film side (he’s formerly their best comic writer and wrote some DCTV as well,) and along with his group were the ones to sit DiDio down and go “here’s the deal: your stories don’t sell. None of the characters I created outside of Green Lantern like Conner Kent, Tim Drake, Bart Allen, Cassie, Cassandra, Oracle, and WALLY FRICKIN’ WEST for what? you basically chucked fan favourites out the window for what, right, a racial stereotype that NOBODY liked to replace Wally (and failed,) and tried to turn Donna Troy AND Wonder Woman herself into angry feminists (that also failed.) And dude, you have TWO Superman books on the go and it’s clear ONE is selling, the other is not: People want Pre-New 52 MARRIED WITH LOIS Superman! They don’t want Superfrosh! They don’t want Gordon as Batman fighting SJWs claiming to be Robin (and getting all their asses beat by an ACTUAL Robin in five seconds!) Nobody wants grimdark hard reboot with no continuity, no marriages (seriously way to piss off the gay community by putting the ban on Batwoman’s gay marriage which was from a gay writer so she could have a happy ending of sorts.) characters they don’t like, love, heart, or soul. The political stuff isn’t working either. And we’re not Marvel: We don’t HAVE popular movies to fall back on and if we don’t change soon, our moneymakers that DO work (Arrowverse, Injustice games, Arkham games, animated series and animated films,) will eventually fall flat too and after this season (2015) they kind did…” And then DiDio, kicking and screaming, agreed. Once the money started rolling in, DiDio MERCIFULLY wasn’t stupid enough to upend that because he realized HE was making more money too! But that isn’t to say he wasn’t in the past. Still, nobody is perfect and whoever is holding his leash over at DC has a VERY firm grip on him. The dude is as close to Jonah Jameson as you get in some respects.

    But back on this point: FINALLY Scott Snyder, who IMO jumped the shark in the New 52 with his Easy Bake Batman Oven (seriously…) gives me as a DC fan something I have been BEGGING them to do the minute they decided to break character and explore the what if Superman was evil route: What if BATMAN, aka THE MOST POPULAR SUPERHERO AT DC AND RIVALED ONLY BY SPIDER-MAN, the big hero of EVERY story despite having NO superpowers whose fandom will cry whenever Superman saves the day because “HE’S TOO OP!” but “BATMAN CAN BEAT ANYBODY CAUSE HE’S BATMAN!” was really the bad guy? Sure it’s an alternate dimension and it’s tied to the Nth metal, but really, what IF Batman was given that kind of power? Well from all the previews, THIS story explores that. This is Snyder’s magnum opus to the Dark Knight and with it, he explores one aspect of Bruce Wayne he hasn’t yet (and he explored every element in his run:) Bruce’s drive. Is it a gift? or a curse? How far is he willing to go to see something through? And the first issue truly explores this when not even Superman or Mister Miracle, the Man of Steel and the New God, can deter his efforts despite their best. FIRST EVENT ISSUE. And we’re already getting into it. Moral lessons that are universal. Struggles between CHARACTERS and FRIENDS who despite ALL that they have been through (and as of late in the comics have actually been questioning as of late as they become aware they’ve been rebooted more than once,) won’t just stab each other in the back for petty political GARBAGE!

    In all fairness DC DOES have political outlet books via their D-list comics like the Movement or B-listers like Green Arrow (whose been a liberal for over 40 years so it’s not exactly breaking character when he goes there,) and occasionally you see it in Wonder Woman because she’s the feminist icon, but in those books you know EXACTLY what you get and 75% of the time even THAT is watered down to a handful of buzzwords and, say it with me, ALLEGORY. DC is nowhere NEAR as hamfisted and the closest they got was T-Shirt Superman and We Are Robin/MechaGordonPoliceBat. And the latter two didn’t sell compared to their more traditional counterparts that were being published at the time (Superman: Lois & Clark!) DC Comics realized they goofed up bigtime and after five years, it was time to say sorry and just get back to what they do best, and that they delivered. Not just in the comics, but all over. But as Geoff Johns famously put it:

    “Everything begins with the comics; you always need new voices, new ideas, and people who really love these characters to see them continue; otherwise they are just going to fossilize in amber and then be forgotten,”

    Post Rebirth..

    – Arrow Season 5 redeems series.
    – Supergirl Season 2 redeems series (barely but it did.)
    – There are now five live action DCTV series set in the same universe a la MCU and two more on Fox (Gotham and Lucifer.)
    – Wonder Woman outgrosses past three DC movies and is not only better quality, but the first major successful female led superhero film and does better than quite a few Marvel movies to boot!
    – Injustice 2 comes out to rave reviews
    – DC is competitive with Marvel without the following on the comic retailer front:
    1. Variant Incentives
    2. Not as many books published
    3. They don’t have Star Wars
    4. Critical praise up and down the lineup.
    – Young Justice, the most popular DC cartoon since Batman the Animated Series, is renewed for a LONG DESIRED third season after its cancellation due to “lack of toy sales.”
    – Animated movies continue to be a critical hit with the fans despite some slip ups pre-Rebirth (The Killing Joke adaptation, Batman Bad Blood, Justice League War…)
    – walk into ANY Hot Topic and DC outsells Marvel merchandise almost two to one! Harley Quinn, a female character, outsells Deadpool!

    Let’s be clear: This ALL stems out of the comics. DC realized that their entire identity is forged by their comic books. It was true with the New 52, it is true in Rebirth. And Post Rebirth, DC Comics is riding an extremely high wave of critical hits and leaving Marvel to fall back to its creative teams that are still sane (the MCU,) to save their skins!

  5. “Marvel, on the other hand, appears to be populated with a cloister of bitter moral relativists who write books for a small population of philosophical malcontents.”

    I couldn’t stop laughing when reading that. I have never read the problem with Marvel Comics put so well in one sentence. It’s very true that the bitterness can be felt through a lot of their books. The type of moral relativism Marvel engages in is the poorest and emptiest form of that concept. Moral relativism is a great story point, but not in your heroes. The Killing Joke is an existential point of view vs a nihilist and relativistic view of the world and it’s an amazing book where Joker even shows a spark of humanity. That’s how you use moral relativism as a hammer to challenge your hero. Not the reverse. Great work.

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