18th Jun2020

‘Dark Nights: Death Metal #1’ Review (DC Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Scott Snyder | Art by Greg Capullo | Published by DC Comics

So, a little later than planned, due to a certain super-villain called COVID-19, but the sequel of sorts to the Dark Nights:Metal event of a couple of years ago is here. That event, also overseen by Snyder and Capullo, introduced a dark multiverse that exists alongside the regular DC multiverse, the two connected by various metals. That first event focused mostly on Batman, that being Snyder’s main book at the time, and we got to see several nasty variations of Batman. Which was fun. It was very popular, with all the various tie-ins, so a sequel was inevitable. Just because you can make a sequel, though, should you? Let’s take a look.

Any book that start with Sgt. Rock, a burning Swamp Thing and a destroyed Themyscira certainly makes you pay attention. A point to make, it’s all pretty confusing at first. Why is Wonder Woman a jailer for various super-villains like The Joker? Who are the three Batmen that bring a hooded prisoner to her? I say Batmen, though one rather amusingly is actually the Batcave’s Dinosaur, into which a version of Bruce uploaded his consciousness and now operates in. A nice little bit of humour in a very dark world. This world, and notably this Gotham City, is one controlled and ruled over by The Batman Who Laughs and Perpetua, who is still busy killing off universes. Earth-22 has apparently just fallen. The Earth is beaten, subjugated, and under control.

Or is it? While Diana has to go through the motions of loyalty to this Batman, she gets contacted by ‘our’ Batman. He’s got a plan to use the magic technology in her invisible plane to craft armour and infiltrate Castle Bat and try and create a safe world. Diana disagrees. She feels they need to fight here and fix things, save everyone and turn it all back to normal. Bruce doesn’t think it can ever go back to normal, and the best method is a series of smaller guerilla battles, saving who they can along the way. The use of a Black Lantern ring is certainly a good start, resurrecting the dead to fight the various Batmen and demonic Robin’s. It really is a badly mess up place. Even Jonah Hex comments he’s the prettiest one there. That bad.

After a cheeky Lobo cameo, back to Diana and her mysterious prisoner. It turns out to be none other than Wally West, someone pretty familiar with the multiverse himself. Snyder uses Wally as his focal point to explain both how he sees the DC Universe, and what forces underpin it. Snyder, through Wally, explains that all the positive and negative forces are connective. So the Speed Force, the Lanterns colour spectrum, Lords of Order etc are all connected to the same forces. Conversely, Anti-Life Equations, Chaos Magic, Black Lanterns etc are all derived from Crisis Energy. Positive energies make connections, negative energy exists to break them. Wally reveals that the DC multiverse is a flawed one, made that way deliberately by Perpetua. She created it from crisis energy, and it has been the centre of conflict since. Even Dr. Manhattan was unable to heal it.

Snyder’s take on the DC Universe as a whole, and the many events that have plagued it down the years is very clever. It is also something barely comprehensible to the casual fan. It’s very continuity intensive, as is Wonder Woman’s idea to defeat Perpetua and The Batman Who Laughs. Create an anti-Crisis. Great idea, but unfortunately someone has been listening in on her and Wally the whole time. He has his own plan apparently, to break away from Perpetua, and offers Wonder Woman safety for her and the imprisoned Amazons if she goes along with him. She considers it….for a second. Then she kills him. I think. That seems to initiate another flurry of activity from his minions and followers. Did he intend Dying all along? Is her really dead? Why does Sgt. Rock have no legs? It’s all incredibly confusing, but delicious, crazy fun too. You can’t look away.

Snyder’s planning on this must have been nothing short of heroic. His thinking on tying together all the major events in DC history actually makes very good sense, and requires monumental concentration to tie all together. He’ll do it though, Snyder is smart like that. His partner in crime Greg Capullo crafts exactly the right nasty visual tone for the book. This is a bad place, with bad people. A lot of story is compressed into a lot of panels per page, but it flows well and looks great.

A book that does live up to the hype, and in terms of what it is trying to do should be an absolute epic. A game changer for an entire universe and it’s history.

***** 5/5

Dark Nights: Death Metal #1 is out now from DC Comics

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