21st May2021

‘Dark Nights: Death Metal – Deluxe Edition’ Graphic Novel Review

by Phil Wheat

Written by Scott Snyder | Art by Greg Capullo | Published by DC Comics | Format: Hardback, 200pp

It’s been two years since I reviewed Dark Nights: Metal. That event, 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, including all the various tie-ins, so a sequel was inevitable… And boy did we get a sequel!

Taking the ideas of Metal and turning things up to 11, Dark Nights: Death Metal continues the story with aplomb as the Earth is enveloped by the Dark Multiverse, leaving the Justice League at the mercy of the Batman Who Laughs. Humanity struggles to survive in a hellish landscape twisted beyond recognition, while Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman have all been separated and fight to survive. The heroes will need to fight their way across their demonic new home and come face-to-face with their entire history in order to stop the Batman Who Laughs once and for all!

Let’s get this straight right away. Dark Nights: Death Metal is more epic and more action-packed than the original Metal series and for those that haven’t read that original book this might be a little too convoluted to follow – though it’s easier to follow than the original book felt to me the first time I picked it up! Since that first read-through I’ve gone back to Metal on a number of occasions; which meant that Death Metal felt more familiar, more easy to read than its predecessor. Though, like that original tale, Death Metal still feels rushed. The original 7-issue core story resides within the pages of this deluxe edition but it still feels like seven issues was not enough to tell the story in full. I wanted MORE!

But don’t worry, Dark Nights: Death Metal does tell the full story.

The core plot is actually pretty simple. Perpetua, creator of the Multiverse, is displeased with its current incarnation and decides – with the help of The Batman Who Laughs – to eradicate all 52 of the current DC universes; leaving just one, Prime Earth, for her to rule over. Dark Nights: Death Metal picks up the story with only eight of the universes left. With Wonder Woman in the hell that is Themyscira, one Batman dead, a dead Batman living (thanks to a Black Lantern ring), Superman becoming consumed by Darkseid powers, a Swamp Thing who seriously needs some Miracle-Gro and the remains of various incarnations of the Justice League all battling to save the very DC multiverse in which this book resides. It’s all very meta… Oh, and did I mention the veritable feast of Batmen in this book? Including one who transferred his consciousness into a robot dinosaur, giving us Batmanasaurus Rex!

Yeah, that sounds bizarre right? That’s because Death Metal is bizarre. It’s a fever dream writ large on the page… Yet for all the insanity, at it’s core Dark Nights: Death Metal is very controlled storytelling. Scott Snyder literally tries to wrap up years and years of DC continuity, post-Crisis on Infinite Earths, post Infinite Crisis, post-Flashpoint… pretty much every DC comic book since Crisis on Infinite Earths is tied back to current DC continuity, in what I’d call a celebration of the DC multiverse. This book does so much more than conclude the story begun in Dark Nights: Metal. This concludes the end of the DC era begun post Flashpoint and “The New 52” and leads into the new DC comics timeline of “Infinite Frontier”. Though thankfully there’s no need to know your complete DC comics history to enjoy Death Metal, though it does pay off the dedication of long-term readers WITHOUT alienating new readers – something that’s hard to do in comics these days, hence all the reboots and relaunches we see in Marvel and DC’s output!

Graphically Dark Nights: Death Metal looks both colourful and bright, yet dark and gloomy at the same time. It’s a dichotomy that reflects the DC universe itself… just look at the darkness of Batman versus the light and hope of Superman. The funny books of Justice League International versus the gloom of Justice League Dark. The artwork is also a master, Greg Capullo, at work – seemingly bringing together his years of experience across a number of different books, genres and art styles into one cohesive whole. A finished product that looks as death metal-esque as this books title would suggest!

Ultimately Dark Nights: Death Metal is one hell of a wild ride. An insane, over the top, yet loving end to the DC universe as we currently know it. And as such its unmissable reading.

***** 5/5

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