Generations Shattered #1 review – a messy, weird, fun patchwork of DC history

January 6, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
Comics
4

Summary

Generations Shattered #1 feels very much like DC’s Greatest Temporal Hits, a devoted love letter to major crossover events that reassembles history for the modern reader.

4

Summary

Generations Shattered #1 feels very much like DC’s Greatest Temporal Hits, a devoted love letter to major crossover events that reassembles history for the modern reader.

Comics are weird – always have been. They tell messy, ambitious, multidimensional stories spanning timelines and eras and ages, and in the real world, writers and artists and audiences. They’re works of great creative collaboration, each word in Batman’s backstory from a different scribe, each square inch of Superman’s undies the brushstroke of a different painter. DC Comics’ Generations Shattered #1 is the apotheosis of all this, a love letter to decades of loose storytelling and continuity-shattering crossovers; to a past fondly remembered and a future eagerly awaited. It exists outside of time, often literally, but encompasses all of DC’s long and storied history. And it boasts heaps of that essential comic-y weirdness, that nostalgic sense of go-anywhere, do-anything joy that characterized the adventures of the ‘80s and ‘90s. It’s quite a thing.

It also feels like a do-over, of Crisis on Infinite Earths especially, and exists in a weird space given how topsy-turvy DC’s management has gotten, not to mention the inevitable changes to the industry caused by the on-going Covid-19 pandemic. Generations Shattered is no longer the jump-off point for the 5G initiative, which was being heavily pushed by Dan DiDio before he left the company, or anything to do with DC’s “Future State”, which premiered this week. Instead, it’s its own thing, basically a re-telling of DC publishing history, with Kamandi uniting an ad-hoc team of heroes – including 1939 Golden Age Batman, Silver Age Sinestro, Booster Gold, Starfire, and Doctor Light – in order to stave off a continuity-destroying mega-villain who exists out of time.

So far, so familiar, but writers Dan Jurgens, Andy Schmidt, and Robert Venditti, along with a 22-strong team of artists, colorist Hi-Fi and letterer Tom Napolitano, still make the endeavor feel fresh and exciting, in large part thanks to the sheer enthusiasm with which they approach the material. They’re making no secret of how much they’re cribbing from various other prominent DC works, but there’s also an effort to atone for past mistakes and rectify missed opportunities in those stories, as well as delivering new, original moments. When Kamandi is given a Skeets gauntlet by an Old Man Booster Gold, thus begins an issue-long joke in which the overall plan just goes more and more wrong, with Kamandi reliably plucking the wrong heroes out of time, and completely failing to properly explain anything to any of them – in large part because he doesn’t really know anything himself.

This tossing out of the rulebook makes Generations Shattered #1 a great deal of fun. And it allows for what is undeniably the selling point here – a collection of wildly different art styles, each immediately representative of a specific era of DC aesthetics. There isn’t a single consistent style or theme throughout any of this book, and it’s better for it, with the art doing the heavy lifting in depicting not just the chaos of a fractured timeline but what each sliver represents in its reflection of long-gone storytelling sensibilities. If Generations Shattered was more sensible and linear, it wouldn’t have worked half as well.

In the end, it works great, both as its own thing and an amalgamation of things that have worked for DC in the past. It rockets along at a breakneck clip, cycling through its various eras and modes with Napolitano’s lettering signposting the changes in imitative sound effects. It builds to a welcome Big Bad introduction with enough menace to make the lead-in to the next part of the story an exciting proposition. And, perhaps most importantly of all, it enthusiastically embraces all the weirdness along the way.

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