Generations: Forged #1, much like its predecessor Generations: Shattered #1, is a fun, yet overstuffed jaunt through DC history. While it reads more like a love letter to bygone eras than anything else, fans of the previous issue or anyone who craves spectacle will find themselves more than satisfied.
The general structure of the last issue remains in effect here. Most of the book could be described as vignettes where several heroes are scattered across time by Dominus. The writing team of Dan Jurgens, Robert Venditti, and Andy Schmidt do a good job of keeping the book easy to follow even if the scale of the plot is immense. The early pages drawn by Mike Perkins are really great as we see Dominus raise a family in his pocket of “extracted time”. I love the limited, near black and white, color palette in Perkins’ pages as I think they suit the pencils and also lend a sense of nostalgia to Dominus’ fake suburban oasis. The script also benefits from fully establishing Dominus as the villain. While his motivation isn’t wholly unique, any sense of humanity within a villain who has control of the entire fabric of reality does wonders for grounding the plot.
The first half is similar to Generations: Shattered in that the script hops around timelines, but Forged benefits from longer scenes, which allows for deeper character work and not just a series of cameos. The best scenes in the first half deal with Steel and Superboy who find themselves marooned in prehistoric Thanagar. Their obstacles come in the form of basic survival but also fighting off various creatures (that may as well be dinosaurs). Paul Pelletier and Norm Rapmund cover art duties for these scenes and their work is among my favorite in the book. The action is easy to follow, the action poses are weighty and dynamic and the entire production is appropriately retro. The dialogue is also at its peak as Steel finds himself struggling to keep his knowledge of Superboy’s future a secret. Steel does let it slip that it’s Superboy that inspired him to be a hero in the first place, which adds a nice twist to the traditional mentor/mentee relationship. The art also features tons of nice detail that gives an idea of how Steel and Superboy have been surviving in exile, which includes makeshift vehicles, huts, and cages for livestock. These scenes have enough meat in them to have been its own comic with equal parts excitement and heart. It’s almost a shame when Dominus’ minions arrive and kick the overarching narrative into gear.
Other timelines don’t capture the same level of characterization and heart, but are entertaining nonetheless. Some heroes, including Sinestro, Booster Gold, and Batman find themselves in the dystopian “Electric City” of the future where the “ultrarich are in charge” and hunt the disadvantaged for the sheer thrill of it. While these sequences don’t tug at the heartstrings, it’s fun to see how our heroes react to this extreme version of the future. The 1930s Batman delivers the most entertaining juxtaposition of character and setting as he finds himself confounded and amazed by the technology at hand, which includes mechanical people hellbent on self-destructing once you get too close. Less effective are the scenes where Kamandi, Dr. Light, and Starfire find themselves on Krypton, weeks before the disaster that sets Superman on his path to Earth. There’s nothing wrong with the art or even the over expository dialogue, but constantly returning to Krypton and seeing Jor-El in his prime further demystifies Superman’s would be home world.
After the halfway point, our heroes reconvene at Brother Eye where they discuss what their next course of action should be. This is when things get a little messy. There’s such an influx of techno jargon, exposition, and stage setting that any semblance of personality is largely erased. There’s so much dialogue on the page that it almost doesn’t matter who is saying what. Luckily, Colleen Doran’s pencils make this segment really nice to look at, with very impressive double page spreads and detailed ensemble shots. Hi-Fi’s colors do a great job of maintaining a semblance of continuity across all the artists, but the switch can be noticeable at times. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, especially given the different timelines at play, but the artist switches are not always organically tied to different character groups, which can be jarring. Lastly, Tom Napolitano’s letters effectively lead the eye among the large ensemble, though with the sheer amount of characters and exposition on any given page, it’s not surprising that the occasional dialogue bubble is hard to track.
By the end, the stage is set for our heroes to take the fight to Dominus and the end fight is very well done. The shift from Perkins’ “black and white” aesthetic to Bryan Hitch, Andrew Currie, and Hi-Fi’s colorful art is striking and there’s no real missteps in the final stretch besides some broad characterizations (Sinestro being fascinated by a yellow lantern beam is more funny than clever). However, by the end of this behemoth of a comic, it’s hard not to feel as though this entire story was a lot of noise without much true purpose. There’s some lines mentioned about how our universe is called the “Linearverse” and how its heroes age slower than anywhere else in an attempt to explain how Batman has existed since the 1930s. That’s when my brain starts to shut off. I don’t think it’s all that compelling to be told how important Batman and all of Earth’s heroes are, I’d rather just read stories displaying that fact. Once a book starts monologuing about DC Comics’ expansive history, it makes the entire series come off more as a vanity piece. Nonetheless, Generations Forged #1 is a fun filled tale that will likely endear itself to long-term fans more than newcomers.
- You love stories that hop across dimensions and feature a variety of settings.
- Seeing lesser utilized DC characters is a bonus for you.
- You’re a fan of the art teams featured inside since a lot of the appeal lies in the spectacle.
Generations Forged #1 has a specific audience in mind for its dimension hopping storyline. While some sequences are truly special, overall the book trades in simplistic characterizations that heavily rely on the reader already being a fan. The numerous art teams all turn in solid work, particularly Paul Pelletier and Mike Perkins, and the script by Dan Jurgens, Robert Venditti, and Andy Schmidt is well paced despite the story’s vast scale. If you were a fan of Generations Shattered, this issue is an instant purchase, but for those who avoid this type of story and have little connection to the DC Comics’ characters featured inside, my recommendation is more tenuous.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.