DC Comics kicked off its next big event, the Batman-centric Metal, with the first of two one-shots leading into it this week, as a good chunk of the Caped Crusader’s friends are trying to figure out just what the hell he’s doing.

As usual, it doesn’t seem like he’s up to anything good.

Spoilers ahead.

Dark Days: The Forge 1
Written by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV 
Pencils by Andy Kubert, Jim Lee and John Romita Jr. 
Inks by Klaus Jansen, Danny Miki and Scott Williams 
Colors by Alex Sinclair

There is a lot going on with this issue, and reading it for the first time on a subway at 2 in the morning maybe wasn’t the best choice. I decided to read it again this morning, and I’m just starting to digest everything that happened, but it won’t really come together until we start getting into the heart of the series later this summer.

Snyder – who gave an acclaimed run on Batman during the New 52 era – and Tynion – who is doing a great job on Detective Comics – give us a series of vignettes as Batman investigates a cosmic mystery. He clearly didn’t get enough of that during his crossover with The Flash.

Forge Superman

Batman travels from the depths of the ocean to his orbital Batcave on the moon (because why wouldn’t he have that) to Superman’s Fortress of Solitude to access a secret room he has in Superman’s hideaway that Superman has never been in. Why Superman would agree to that, I don’t know, and despite Batman’s assurances that he’s not trying to get through whatever this is alone, he sure as hell seems to be secretive to those he’s closest to.

Even the other allies Batman relies on for help and information in this opening salvo – Aquaman, Mr. Terrific and Mr. Miracle (the latter two in their Rebirth debuts) don’t really have idea of what’s going on. And when Scott Free sees what Batman has hidden in Superman’s Fortress – a multiversal homing beacon frequently seen in DC’s times of Crisis – he’s appalled.

Forge Terrific

Terrific, on the other hand, is more than willing to continue working on the mystery at hand, and even voices approval when Batman suggests they should release a powerful being who could cause trouble if not held in check, an individual locked up in the orbital Batcave whose prison seems to share a color scheme with Plastic Man.

My head hurts already, and we haven’t even discussed Green Lantern’s contributions to this book.

Hal Jordan gets sent on an off-the-books secret mission to look into a darkness that’s being cast throughout the universe, which seems to be emanating from underneath Wayne Manor, in Gotham City.

Forge Creepy
I couldn’t imagine why the Guardians of the Universe think there’s any kind of darkness there… 

After an ambush from the codename-free Duke Thomas, Green Lantern finds the source of the darkness and starts going through a secret tunnel in the Batcave, where a mysterious voice taunts the unlikely pair and offers up little nuggets of information. For instance, Batman had a team of Outsiders to investigate this mystery free from the Justice League and from his other Bat-allies. And whatever it is in the secret cave, it’s messing with Jordan’s ring.

Because the basis of the story is supposed to come from Snyder’s time on Batman, Duke starts to piece everything together, and he’s instantly scared. Jordan, despite his ring malfunctioning and all sense saying to back off, also continues on to discover what the exact source of the darkness on the edges of the universe is:

Forge Joker

Batman has the Joker – or a Joker, I guess, since we’ve established there are at least three versions running around out there – locked in a secret prison in a hidden chamber of the Batcave, where dangerous metals of unknown origin are being kept.

What could possibly go wrong?

The “metal” that is at the center of most of the events in this issue is clearly Nth Metal, the element that gives Hawkman his powers and granted him the ability to be reincarnated throughout the centuries. The framing sequence for DARK DAYS: THE FORGE 1 features Carter Hall going over his origin story and the darkness he’s been fighting through countless incarnations.

This issue is less a cohesive story and more a series of vignettes setting up future stories. And that’s fine, other than the $4.99 price tag for the issue.

Like I said at the top, there’s a lot of information to digest in this issue, and how it all ties in to not just the upcoming Batman: Metal event, but the greater DC Universe as a whole will be interesting to see over the coming months. We get another one-shot – DARK DAYS: THE CASTING – next month before DARK NIGHTS: METAL starts in August. DC Comics also announced this week a series of one-shots that tie in to the event coming this fall. So, there will be no shortage of pages for the story to be told.