Generations Shattered #1 plays like a greatest hits record that attempts to indulge in nostalgia and also forge a fiery narrative that struggles to not buckle under its own lofty aspirations. I don’t think it succeeds. There’s a lot of talent on the page, but this eighty page behemoth never justifies its existence beyond giving some underutilized characters their time to shine. The multiverse is collapsing, our heroes leap through time and space to undo the cosmic threat, all the while a mysterious figure watches from afar. You’ve read this before.
To put it bluntly, I’m tired of this type of storyline. You don’t need to be up to date on all things Dark Knights: Death Metal to follow along. I know this because I fell behind on Death Metal myself. A few well-placed expository lines courtesy of Dan Jurgens…or Andy Schmidt….or Robert Venditti give readers what they need to know and nothing more. It’s hard to garner much personality when the script is divided between three different writers who have no time to dawdle when their characters’ mere existence is constantly at threat. For the die-hards, the sheer number of characters present will elicit excitement. Kamandi is essentially the lead and I like Kamandi, but I can’t say I know him all that well. This doesn’t do much to change that. This holds true for most of the characters who appear here. Hey it’s Steel! Look, there’s Abra Kadabra! And there’s Per Degaton, and Rip Hunter, and Waverider and….well you get the point. It’s flashy, it’s exciting in its own way, and the plot is equal parts impenetrable and accessible. Once you step back from the sheer insanity of it all, the story is quite simple. An older Booster Gold commands Kamandi to leap through time and assemble a team to prevent the end of all existence. Sounds impossible, but with the time stream almost anything seems at the very least doable. Kamandi asks a lot of questions about how and why all this is happening. He was more invested than I was.
For all my snark and general disappointment in how this all plays out (last week’s Tales from the Dark Multiverse basically did this exact same story), it’s largely well done. It’s a quicker read than the page count would lead you to believe and the inherent repetition within the script actually helps make sense of it all. The first half of the book is fun and easy to follow as Kamandi bounces around timelines in order to recruit specific heroes to his cause. These scenes are the strongest as the script spends a little bit of time with each hero before Kamandi shows up to whisk them away. One of the longer scenes deals with Superboy and the Legion as they attempt to parse through giant blasts of energy to figure out exactly what’s happening across the multiverse. With almost every line of dialogue dedicated to explaining what’s going on, the art carries a heavy burden of infusing some heart into the chaos. Fernando Pasarin and Oclair Albert, along with Hi-Fi’s colors, turn in vibrant and fun work in this segment. A two-page spread showing creatures of various eras arriving at the Legion’s doorstep is a highlight and the general atmosphere is a charming throwback...at least until it all blows up. Just don’t pay too much attention to how Pasarin draws hands.
It’s a bit of a mixed bag in the other “gathering the team” scenes. A sequence where Steel battles Cyborg Superman is a ton of fun with solid characterizations and fantastic art courtesy of Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan. This segment stands out since Steel and Cyborg Superman get to play out their own battle before being interrupted by the “Goneness” as Kamandi calls the world ending event. On the more amusing side, we have a brief appearance by Hector Hammond, which thankfully has a bystander talk about Hammond’s “ridiculously huge head”. Less effective is an awkward encounter between Kamandi and Superman where the script doesn’t seem to know whether to terrify readers or make them laugh as Superman gets swallowed up by the “Goneness”. Meanwhile Kamandi and Booster Gold yap away. I chalk it up to a mismatch between the script and Bernard Chang’s art. Overall, the constant switching of artists gives the book a layer of unpredictability which makes for a fun read, but also never lets the book build up significant momentum. It makes for an entertaining series of vignettes more than a truly gripping building of stakes.
A bit past the midway point the issue remembers it needs to advance the plot and sets up the brainwashed Linear Men as the issue’s adversaries. The ensuing fisticuffs are fun to look at but ultimately hard to latch onto as our heroes splinter off into their own fights across various timelines. John Romita Jr. and Danny Miki handle a big chunk of the action and do a good enough job keeping things easy to follow despite an overabundance of carnage. The simplistic page layouts are key to being able to digest all the mayhem, which I’m thankful for. Ultimately, the book doesn’t lead to a satisfying conclusion and is more concerned about setting up more dimensional shenanigans in the next issue. More timelines means more heroes getting scattered across them. If you’re on board, you’ll be excited for what’s yet to come. If your brain shuts off when the multiverse gets brought up, you’ll have likely tuned out a few pages in. The ending page is intriguing, but without a simplification of the plot it’s more likely than not that the follow-up will tread similar beats.
- You want every Death Metal tie-in.
- Stories where anything goes due to multiverse shenanigans appeal to you.
- You don’t mind dropping ten dollars on what amounts to eye candy over depth.
Generations Shattered #1 is a well-executed, but extremely familiar tale of multiverse hijinks. I can’t count how many times the entire fabric of the multiverse has been at stake so the narrative here doesn’t do much to distinguish itself. What’s left over are a series of well drawn vignettes that range from average to spectacular depending on your fandom of appearing characters. Whether or not the pure spectacle of it all makes it worth the ten dollar price tag is debatable, but I imagine most fans of Death Metal and similar stories will find it a value.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.