Who is Dominus? Why is he trying to rewrite history by destroying it one timeline at a time? And why is he also playing father knows best?
It's up to a time-tossed, ragtag team of heroes from ALL generations to unravel the mystery and save reality!
The second issue of Generations, subtitled Forged, has quite a bit happening in it: a purple-gloved OG Batman, early-NTT Starfire, the female Dr. Light, Kamandi, Sinestro before he broke bad, and a whole lot of other random, but still cool, characters thrown together to save everything. Time itself is being erased (allegedly in the wake of Dark Nights: Death Metal, but it’s hard to find any meaningful connective tissue between that and this) by charmingly retro villain Dominus, who wants to rewrite history for his own benefit.
The echoes of 1994’s Zero Hour are hard to ignore here, especially with that opus’s chief architect Dan Jurgens again at the helm (albeit with writerly assistance from Robert Venditti and Andy Schmidt, neither of whom really ever have their voices heard, unfortunately). It’s a crisis in which a mystery villain is systematically erasing time from both the end and the beginning, and a ragtag group of heroes must valiantly strive to stop the end of everything. At its heart, Generations is almost identical to Zero Hour, so much so that it’s hard not to feel like the former is just a rehash of the latter. There are some tweaks in execution, but not enough to truly make a difference. In Zero Hour, the heroes spent most of their time reacting to the crisis. Here, thanks mainly to Steel, they are at least operating with a skeleton of a plan. Zero Hour ultimately resulted in the reveal that a fallen Hal Jordan was the grand architect behind it all; here, it’s Dominus, and his big secret is that he yearns for his family. That’s interesting, and definitely an angle that could have made this more of an investment to read, but even at a whopping ninety-six pages there just isn’t enough space dedicated to this subplot.
And that isn’t the writers’ fault, or even the editors’. Generations Shattered and Forged were initially intended to be DC’s now-shuttered 5G project that was to usher in the New DCU post-Death Metal, but that plan was scrapped in favor of next month’s Infinite Frontier and the now-wrapping Future State. Forged really reads that way – like there was five issues worth of 5G that was cut and pasted into one comic. Even super-sized, the story feels rushed and underdeveloped. But more to the point, it can’t help but suffer under the weight of its own ponderous been-there, done-that plot. The DC universe is ending? Again? Oy. There is, however, a grand and infinite frontier on the horizon. I’m far more interested in that than in rehashing the past.
It doesn’t help that Dan Jurgens writes such old-school dialogue throughout that would have fit right in during his late ’80s to mid ’90s heyday, when he was DC’s man with the golden touch. But the writing in Forged is so anachronistic that it feels less a product of 2021 and more a time capsule from a bygone era. That might appeal to some older readers and shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a negative – but by the opposite token, it may well be off-putting to younger fans who aren’t necessarily hip to such older voices and styles.
There are bright spots, though. This review has skewed excessively negative, but Generations Forged is a fun little comic when weighed on its own merits. It’s not out to change the world, and it’s clear that the writers and artists assembled made the most they could given the fact that their initial 5G remit was truncated from five to two issues – no easy task for anybody. Combine that with the fact that there was clearly so much more intended to go into this story, and it’s a no-win situation. Any writer would struggle under that weight, even a legend like Dan Jurgens.
There are some truly inspired character pairings, too. Steel and Superboy play off of one another with great chemistry, inverting the usual Superman/John Henry Irons dynamic on its head. Sparks fly between Kamandi and Starfire, but not in a good way one – that highlights how despite good intentions, differing worldviews and personalities can put even good guys on the opposite page. Perhaps the most fun, though, is watching Sinestro preen as a Green Lantern – he’s still ostensibly on the side of good, but the sheer size of his ego can’t help but shine through nonetheless. We all know his downfall is coming; catching the little differences between his before and after makes for a rich read on such a storied and even tragic villain.
There’s more good to be had in the art, too. Every artist conducts him- or herself quite well. Bryan Hitch, especially, gets some stunning group shots in (the man may be second only to George Perez for crafting dynamic group pages), while Mike Perkins creates a slightly ominous version of Mayberry for the black-and-white scenes with Dominus and his family. Paul Pelletier and Norm Rapmund throw down some ridiculously great old-school representation that could be (positively) mistaken for Tom Grummett in his prime, and even Jurgens himself – with an inking assist from Kevin Nowlan – gets in on the fun and flexes some muscles he doesn’t put to work in quite some time.
Generations Forged is a comic that could be easy to complain about, or nitpicked to death. And that’s understandable to a degree. But it’s a victim of circumstance, and every creator involved clearly had fun making what they could of what remained from the shuttled 5G project. If you’re looking for some old-school fun – even if it’s fun that’s more than a little familiar – you can do a lot worse than read this comic.
Generations Forged #1 isn't a world-changing comic, nor is it a wholly original one. But it is charmingly retro, and despite being a victim of downsizing from five to two issues, comports itself as best it can and can't help but leave readers with a smile on their face.
Generations Forged #1: Gone, Baby, Gone
Writing - 7/107/10
Storyline - 5/105/10
Art - 7.5/107.5/10
Color - 7.5/107.5/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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