"Dark Days: The Casting": From the Journal of Carter Hall
- There have been secret battles to suppress the power of this metal for decades. But its power has only grown with time, tainting more and more. True war is now inevitable.
Dark Days: The Casting #1 is a one-shot with a cover date of September, 2017. It was published on July 12, 2017.
Synopsis for "Dark Days: The Casting"
From the Journal of Carter Hall
In his many lives he was described in many ways, from an adventurer to an archaeologist, but Carter Hall always knew what he truly was: a detective, investigating on the mysteries of his life and his world. And the most important case he followed was the one tied with Nth Metal, who brought him to find and gather all the Immortals, men who lived eternal lives like him. To them, he revealed a truth he found out about himself: he remembered having lived his first life in ancient Egypt, but it was a lie. Hath-Set, his nemesis, cancelled a vital part of his past that occurred before Egypt, a past that went way back to the dawn of men.
After this revelation, one of the Immortals stepped out, showing everyone a knife made of a mysterious metal, and revealing it was tied with a dark presence who was cast away, and now was willing to return. The same force Hath-Set served and wanted to welcome back on Earth. And the truth would strike them like lightning. Carter and the others did not believe what the old mage said, so they looked in many parts of the world for evidence, hoping to find lies. Instead, they found out that many pictures of the horrible monstrosity the mage described were everywhere around the planet, and not only that: Carter's true origins, related to the Hawk Tribe, was also tied to this being. It was duty of the Hawks to protect Earth from the dark force, but a Judas of their tribe betrayed, and took on the symbol of the beast: the Bat.
This man brought the demon forth, and so Carter and Shayera had to sacrifice their lives to imprison him back in his old dimension. That's where the eternal cycle of Hawkman and Hawkgirl began. Hath-Set was then a servant of the Bat and, trying to make Carter forget, he made him and his wife believe their journey started many years later, in the deserts of Egypt. The Immortals believed all the metal that could be found on Earth should be destroyed, so that any links to the demon would be severed. But the metal gave Carter so much beautiful things in his life, that he couldn't believe everything about it was evil. And so he kept on searching.
Armed with the mage's knife, Carter found a way to harness his energy and open a portal to the dark dimension: with some of the Immortals and his wife, he travelled inside, hoping to find a different truth. But once there, he only saw darkness and heard screams, and than two eyes of a terrible monster, who was waiting for something. Who was waiting for someone...
The Present Day. Methana, Greece
Batman, with a reinforced suit, is battling a mythological monster when Diana steps in, making the guardian stop as Batman is under Wonder Woman's protection. Diana would like to know what Bruce is doing here, and the Dark Knight tells her he's searching for Hephaestus a he'd like to talk to him about a problem he has. Diana answers Bruce that the Gods all left Earth, because they sense that a crisis and a war are coming. So how can Bruce know about things of the Gods? Bruce tells her he does not know, but he feels like he is at the center of what's to come, and he must find out before it starts: Diana gives him the Sunblade of Apollo, one of twelve weapons forged for the Gods. It's made of Eighth Metal, that's the name Hephaestus used for it. Its light will guide Bruce in his investigation, but he must remember: he should not trade its light for darkness.
Sonoran Desert, Arizona
Batman was led to the Sonoran Desert by the Sunblade, resonating with something hidden in the place. He is welcomed by Dubbilex, and so Batman believes he stumbled on a Cadmus black site. But the man tells him he's wrong, that things way darker hide here and he should get away. Then, someone stabs Dubbilex in the back: it's Talia al Ghul, here for the same thing Batman is searching for. She tells the Dark Knight that she possesses a knife her father owned, which was property of an ancient mage: Batman knows it's made of Ninth Metal, and so it's key to pursue the mystery. Bruce offers Talia a trade: the Eighth for the Ninth, the power of an Olympian for the knife of Shazam. Batman just traded light for darkness, forgetting the advice Diana gave him.
The Batcave, Gotham City
Hal and Duke are talking with an imprisoned Joker in a secret part of the Batcave, with both not really happy to find out that Batman held a criminal like that in a hidden cage under his house. The madman is rambling about some kind of hidden history related to the Bat, and tells Duke he's related to it: did he ever asked Batman why he chose him to be his new teenage partner? Did he ever asked himself why the Joker chose him and his family to torture? The taunting of the clown prince of crime is able to make Duke overreact, freeing Joker from his cage. The clown tells them that Batman imprisoned him after his Endgame, and he did it for what Joker discovered: after he tried to murder the Batman Family, Batman threw him from a cliff in the Batcave, without knowing he sent him in a hidden, deeper cave under the Manor.
Here, he was bathed in a strange, green, liquid metal he then found out was Dionesium: it gave him regenerating abilities, reconstructing his face who himself cut off and healing all the damage the fight with Batman and the fall procured to him. And in this cave, an ancient portray of the Bat, a whole bigger history related to Batman which was hidden to Batman himself. And so he understood what was happening: the cycling continues, and the dark fate of the Bat is going to return and replay another time. And he understood his role in it: for once, he is the good guy, the one that could stop the tragedy. But they do not believe him, they don't understand. Maybe if he tells Duke why the Joker and Batman chose him, he will.
Both Duke and his mother, Elaine, had something in their blood: a metal. That's a common thing for all the people that were called metahumans in these days: they all have some of that powerful metal inside them, flowing through their veins. And if things made of it are able to perform feats of outstanding power, imagine what can they do as part of a person's blood flow. The powers metahumans have are all because of that, and Dukes has powers too: he's destined to be the Signal that will light the darkness Batman wants to look at. And The Joker must stop it from happening, or everything will fall down. He then proceeds to throw Duke from a cliff.
The thing is, Joker was not paying attention to Hal: even if the metal inside the Batcave was making his ring useless, Jordan remains a former pilot of the Air Force and he just found out Batman stores some jets in the Batcave as well. He took control of one, saved Duke, and now he will stop the Joker. The clown shouts at them that this time he's the good guy, that they should let him complete his mission, but of course no one believes him. Meanwhile, Duke starts having a breakdown, and a flash of light explodes out of him. As Hal is confused, Batman steps in, asking to Green Lantern what's all the mess inside his Batcave.
Batman explains to Hal that he's investigating on a mystery of cosmic proportion, finding himself at the center of it and not knowing why. Green Lantern tells him that the Guardians of the Universe themselves were afraid of what he was looking into, but Bruce answers him this should make him understand better: how could a man simply doing some archaeology on Earth make the Guardians send a Green Lantern on a secret mission? He then tells them that after died together with the Joker, then coming back to life thanks to Dionesium, he connected himself with a machine he called his "final invention" to regain his memories and abilities as Batman. With the Dionesium still in the cracks of his skull, he saw hundreds of alternate versions of himself dying, and part of a bigger scheme. The metal was clearly connected to this vision, and so he started trying to make sense out of it.
Meanwhile, Duke regained his senses and started utilizing his new power, reconstructing the machine Joker destroyed when he escaped his prison: the clown was right, he is connected to the metal. Did Batman recruit him only to use him? But the Dark Knight reassures him he just wanted to be with him while he discovered who he truly was. As Hal gives Duke his ring, making him able to rebuild the machine Batman needs, the kid reconstructs it, and all the metals of the different artifacts gathered by Bruce appear, from the Mask of Psycho-Pirate to the Electrum of the Owls. Thanking both Hal and Duke, Bruce connects to the machine, and stares beyond the mystery: everything he sees is darkness.
Soon after, 3000 miles under Gotham City
A mysterious cult following the Bat is satisfied for what happened: they prepared Batman well, and his journey is soon to be complete. The Dark Days are over. The Dark Knights are coming.
Appearing in "Dark Days: The Casting"
- Dubbilex (Apparent death)
- The Immortals (Flashback only)
- Wonder Woman
- Dark Knights (First appearance)
- Barbatos (behind the scenes)
- Hath-Set (Flashback only)
- Joker (Flashback and main story)
- Strigydae (First appearance) (Unnamed)
- Talia al Ghul
- Amphitrion (First appearance)
- Blackhawk Squadron (First appearance) (Flashback only) (Destroyed)
- Challengers of the Unknown (Flashback only)
- Chay-Ara (Dies in flashback)
- Khufu (Dies in flashback)
- Damage (In a vision) (First appearance)
- Abel (Mentioned only)
- Cain (Mentioned only)
- Etrigan (Mentioned only)
- Hephaestus (Mentioned only)
- Nabu (Mentioned only)
- Parliament of Trees (Mentioned only)
- Phantom Stranger (Mentioned only)
- Shazam (Mentioned only)
- Shining Knight (Mentioned only)
- Uncle Sam (Mentioned only)
- United States
- Batman relates the purpose of his "final invention", his encounter with dionesium, and the experience of seeing many versions of himself die to Hal.