‘Dark Days: The Forge’ proves why DC is a cut above Marvel

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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Batman #44: Bruce Wayne and readers beaten with racial guilt baton

Batman 44

Last month Superman: Action Comics #42 took on police brutality, which meant it wasn’t long before Batman gave it a go. DC Comics is back at the political activism again, although it appears Batman #44 is a much stronger product thanks to writers Scott Snyder and Brian Azzarello.

As I have said in the past, the fact that writers insert their personal politics into their stories doesn’t bother me — it’s that industry activism operates along a one-way street.

The latest issue of Batman alludes to the deaths of Trayvon Martin in Florida, Michael Brown in Missouri and Eric Garner in New York City, but when will DC Comics write an issue inspired by the Officer Down Memorial Page or the many cops killed in gunfire each year? Don’t hold your breath.

Here is what Bleeding Cool had to say about Batman #44:

Throughout the story’s twists and turns, and there are several, certain themes begin to emerge that prove to be compelling and thought provoking. As Batman follows his line of investigation, he begins to discover that true culpability, however far removed, may ultimately rest with none other than Bruce Wayne. It’s an interesting commentary on the notion of vigilantism in general, as the genuinely well-meaning effort to rebuild Gotham undertaken by Wayne inadvertently create issues that he must confront as Batman.

And all those years ago Bruce’s parents were responsible for their own murders, right DC Comics?

Batman 44 Penguin

Here is what Emma Houxbois of the Rainbow Hub blog told The Guardian:

“The issue is ‘unprecedented’ in how the authors ‘make race, and the impact on black children in specific, central’ to Snyder’s four-year reimagining of Gotham as “a place that reflects all of the most urgent issues facing contemporary urban populations, like the destruction of public services, using prisons to house the mentally ill, militarization of police forces, and large scale gentrification in the wake of natural disasters.’ The story holds not just Batman but the book’s ‘white readers accountable for their complicity in the real-world situations that the comic analogizes”.

There we go. The truth finally comes out. Again. White readers must be repeatedly flogged for “complicity” in … out of wedlock births and black-on-black crime in places like Chicago and Detroit.

Somehow, someway, when I enlisted in the military years ago and was on a field training exercise in Germany I managed to create the “real world situations” now tearing Chicago apart. Weird.

Somehow, someway, when I was working the overnight shift at Target stocking shelves while putting myself through college I was sowing the seeds for violence on the streets of Brooklyn. Odd.

But how does Snyder feel? He tells The Guardian of officer Ned Howler’s decision to shoot teenager Peter Duggio:

“Of course you want Batman to beat this officer up, and be like, ‘How could you?’ But the point of the issue is that wouldn’t solve the problem. Batman throwing the officer off a roof, or throwing the officer in jail, it wouldn’t get to the heart of the matter at all. And that’s the thing I think is ultimately infuriating.”

And let us not forget the issue begins with a young black child, shot in the stomach and dying in the street, rendered food “for the crows.”

Batman 44DC

On one level I respect DC Comics for putting sharp writers on a book as important as Batman, but at the same time I resent the industry’s relentless attempts to shove activist propaganda down its readers’ throats. I refuse to buy a product that is specifically designed to flog me over the head with a racial guilt baton.

Are there bad cops out there? Sure. But most of them are good people. It is highly ironic that the same people who are complaining of being negatively painted with broad brushstrokes in the media do the same thing to law enforcement personnel, but I digress.

The next time you read a story about police brutality in a Marvel or DC Comics product, be sure to ask yourself if the writers and editors have deputized themselves society’s Thought Police. When you do, you will better parry and counter their ideological beatings.