Generations: Forged #1 Review: An Ambitiously Enjoyable Trip Down Memory Lane

For even the most passive DC Comics readers, it certainly feels like the past year has been filled with a lot of events and big storylines. Whether it's line-wide initiatives like "Death Metal" and "Future State," or smaller-scale stories like "Endless Winter" or "Joker War," there has been no shortage of stories trying to capture the magic of a great crossover event. Caught up in the midst of that is Generations, the scope and scale of which was reworked significantly since it was announced in February of 2020 (seemingly a decade ago). Initially set to be a miniseries that would kick off DC's 5G initiative, the story has been retooled into a pair of one-shots, which serve as a unique stepping stone between "Future State" and next week's Infinite Frontier #0. After the release of Generations: Shattered last month, the storyline is brought to a head in this week's Generations: Forged, and it does so in a way that is plenty entertaining and largely enjoyable, even if it's all a bit forgettable.

Generations: Forged focuses on a ragtag ensemble of DC's heroes and villains—all of whom have been plucked out of their respective eras of canonical history—scattered throughout time and space by Dominus. Together, the team must work together to find a way back to safety and save the entire DC timeline from being destroyed by the "Goneness" in the process. If that concept sounds like a rehash of some of DC's most noteworthy prior events, that's because it is, but that's an influence Generations wears on its sleeve. There are easy comparisons to be drawn between this event and the original Crisis on Infinite Earths—both have an omnipotent force bulldozing through key parts of the DC universe caused by a powerful cosmic figure with a very specific goal. Even on a broader level, the fun of Crisis was the sheer novelty of seeing so many disparate heroes interact with and fight alongside one another, a novelty that Generations: Forged utilizes to its advantage. After it felt like Dark Nights: Death Metal's roster of central characters came from a largely-predictable corner of the DC universe, there's something about Generations: Forged's ensemble that feels just weird enough to work.

Whether or not Generations: Forged actually does work is more complicated to say, as the one-shot's tone varies regularly across 80 pages. There are some genuinely good character beats—Steel and Superboy's dynamic is one of the issue's best surprises, and Doctor Light, Kamandi, and Golden Age Batman all get chances to shine—while other character moments feel unremarkable to anyone who isn't a diehard fan of that particular hero. The actual plot of the issue flows well, although there are a handful of jarring moments—one in the third act, in particular, veers dangerously close to painting the heroes in a poor light, and only justifies what the team is doing towards the end of the sequence. Given how the entire concept of Generations was condensed into roughly 160 pages, and the fact that the series has three credited writers in Dan Jurgens, Andy Schmidt, and Robert Venditti, these occasional disconnects are understandable, and they don't cripple the story as much as they might.

Assessing the art of Generations: Forged is a unique challenge, as the issue boasts eleven different artists with contributions interspersed throughout the story. In a weird way, that creates an effect that works in Generations: Forged's favor, with an overall aesthetic that comes across like the greatest hits of DC's past few decades of "house style." There's minutia that could be broken down in each artist's sequences of the issue—awkward facial expressions and unsettling proportions on some female characters—but more often than not, the transition from one artist to the next is largely seamless. Much of this is due to Hi-Fi's color work and Tom Napolitano's lettering, both of which tie the issue together and prevent its many styles from becoming too divergent.

Even at its most disjointed, there's a surprising amount to celebrate within Generations: Forged. The one-shot is an unabashed send-up to the DC crossovers of decades past—and while it doesn't quite have the modern-day significance or nuance that it might, it is clearly an ambitious and admirable collaboration among more than a dozen different creators. Admittedly, Generations: Forged won't be for every stripe of DC Comics fan. It feels like it's on a completely different wavelength from much of the publisher's recent, trailblazing storytelling, but it still proves to be an enjoyable journey.

Published by DC Comics

On February 23, 2021

Written by Dan Jurgens, Robert Venditti, and Andy Schmidt

Art by Mike Perkins, Marco Santucci, Paul Pelletier, Norm Rapmund, and others

Colors by Hi-Fi

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Letters by Tom Napolitano

Cover by Liam Sharp