Review: GENERATIONS FORGED #1
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Letters: Tom Napolitano
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Generations Forged #1: Dispersed through time by the villain Dominus, our ragtag team of generational heroes—featuring 1939 Batman, Kamandi, Superboy, Steel, Starfire, Sinestro, Booster Gold and Dr. Light—must find a way to restore the timeline…and what they ultimately discover is something far, far greater. You’ll have to read it to believe it as time dies…and generations rise!
I will have to deviate from the standard DC Comics News format for reviews for this one, as I have a lot to say about Generations Forged #1 and it’s not easy to separate the good from the bad. So I will discuss the Linearverse as a separate section, which incorporates elements of both. However, this is not to say that the book is bad overall. Generally, it was a fun story that I enjoyed reading. I even enjoyed the process analyzing it to find the nitpicks that I will be getting into a bit further down.
The story’s concept is a winner: take characters representative of various eras in DC’s publishing history and put them together to face an ultimate threat to all existence. This allows us to see characters that wouldn’t usually be able to rub shoulders working together. It also allows us to see some favourites characters that haven’t been in the spotlight for a bit like Steel, Kamandi, or Booster Gold. The Generations specials are very reminiscent of Crisis on Infinite Earths, but with a more manageable cast of characters.
Also, DC has put some of it’s best talents on this projects. While other writers have headlined high-profile projects in recent years, Dan Jurgens and Robert Venditti have produced some of the best runs in the regular monthly books. However, this isn’t to knock Andy Schmidt, but these Generation specials are his DC debut, so I have little knowledge of his previous work.
There are also a number of amazing artistic talents on display here. It is particularly effective to have a range of artists to display the various settings and times in different artistic styles. And they all do a great job for capturing the feel of the DC era represented in their own sections of the book.
There is not much that I can point out that is wholly negative. There is one thing, though. Do you really need to have a variant cover for a book with a cover price of ten bucks, DC? I really wish you would stop trying to bleed us completionists dry. I suppose I should be happy that at least they didn’t decide to give this the “decade variants” treatment.
First, a short history lesson is necessary at this point. Pay attention, as there’s going to be a quiz at the end.
So much has happened that it seems longer, but it was only about a year ago that DC was dropping hints about a major restructuring of DC continuity. Rumour had it that this new continuity would be called “G5”, although this name was never officially confirmed. Dan DiDio was giving peeks at a new timeline of DC history broken up into five generations, from the Golden Age to the new post-Death Metal era. DC even went so far to solicit a series of specials labelled Generation One to Generation Five. Starting with a Generation Zero preview for Free Comic Book Day 2020.
Then Dan DiDio left DC. Whether he was fired or he quit is unclear, but the upshot is that he was out of the picture. And as the main architect of “G5”, its future was unclear. On top of that Covid caused a shutdown of the comics industry. FCBD was put on hiatus, but it wasn’t long before news came that the Generation Zero preview was cancelled and the Generation specials disappeared from DC’s solicitations.
The Linearverse Cont.
It gradually became clear that DC had scrapped whatever G5 was supposed to be, with a different cosmology arising from Death Metal. That series eventually revealed DC’s new continuity model as the “DC Omniverse”. But what exactly would have DiDio’s G5 continuity have looked like? I believe Generations Forged #1 gives us a possible answer to that, as well as a hint of how it relates to the new, mostly undefined Omniverse.
In Generations Shattered #1 and Generations Forged #1, the writers have created a story that appears to merge some of the unused material for G5 along with new material to produce a story that fits into the new DC Omniverse cosmology. It does that by creating a new Earth that embodies the DiDio’s timeline – or at least something approximating it. They christened this universe, “the Linearverse”.
The basic premise relies on the fact that the characters age a lot slower in the Linearverse. As Waverider explains to Batman, “Here, people age far more slowly, living much longer than elsewhere. Your youth and vitality will endure for decades, enabling you to be effective far longer than the universal norm”. This long lifespan allows the characters to live through the various eras of DC’s publishing history, evolving to fit each era. Thus Batman, for example, can still be in his prime in the 2020s, yet the stories of him fighting gangsters in the 1930s can exist in the same canon. Thus, the characters of this story weren’t pulled from multiple different Earths, but from different eras along the Linearverse’s timeline.
When I first read this, I was under the impression that Generation Forged was supposed to be showing the current state of the main DCU. I was therefore quite frustrated with this revelation, as it seems overly complicated and wouldn’t really hold logically. If this was the main DCU’s continuity, it would come apart quickly, and likely break down into a mess that could only be solved with yet another continuity reset.
However, word has been circulating that the Linearverse is not the central DCU we see in DC’s main line of titles. It’s something separate in its own little corner of the DC Universe. This news came as a relief to me and allowed me to accept that having such a universe has some benefits.
The main benefit of this is that it gives writers a sandbox in which they can play with the characters in any DC era. For example, by setting a story in the Linearverse, they can show us a story of the Justice League set in the Silver Age without upsetting the continuity in the current Justice League title.
In short, I don’t think the Linearverse is a concept that is logically stable enough to use as the foundation for DC’s continuity going forward. If Dan DiDio envisioned the DCU looking like this, then I’m glad DC went another direction. But it does give a setting rife with potential for stories set outside DC canon. In short, the Linearverse is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want DC to live there.
Overall, I had a great time reading Generations Forged #1 and its predecessor, Generations Shattered . It was an entertaining adventure spanning different eras of DC’s publishing history. It read like a bit-sized version of Crisis On Infinite Earths. And while at first, I thought it held some worrisome implications for DC continuity, those fears have been assuaged. But I won’t be pleased if Infinite Frontier reveals that the Linearverse is the main DC Universe after all.