Watching Avengers: Infinity War, you are basically witnessing the cinematic equivalent of the event comic, on how it was the culmination of everything Marvel Studios was building towards after ten years of universe-building. However, for those who read comics regularly, it’s fair to say most event titles published by Marvel and DC don’t leave the best impression; longtime readers can become upset by creators’ numerous attempts of shaking up the universes. Dark Nights: Metal falls very much into that category.
Beginning publication during summer of last year, Metal reunites one of the best collaborations in recent DC history: Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, both of which worked together during the entirety of the main Batman title during the New 52. Following the two-issue prelude, Dark Days: The Forge/The Casting, the Justice League is called upon by the Blackhawks, led by former Hawkgirl Kendra Saunders, who warns the team of the impending threat that is Barbatos and his Dark Knights being released from the Dark Multiverse.
As you can tell from the above synopsis, this is a typical event narrative in which a band of heroes comes together to fight a global threat — or in this case, a multiversal one. The collected cash-grab that is Dark Days: The Road to Metal, which is mostly comprised of old material, does give some context about what Snyder is aiming for, taking cues from DC’s extensive history as well as his previous Bat-history, even if he’s repeating some of the same problems from the past.
The first two issues play like a typical Justice League story, with our heroes fighting in the gladiatorial arena of Mongul’s war moon — only in this story, giant robots created by Toyman appear like an episode of Voltron and the Justice League pilots their own Megazord. It’s big, ridiculous and instantly gives you the idea that Snyder and Capullo are not pulling any punches on this one. Also, in the vein of JL storytelling, as the only one who has no superpowers, the World’s Greatest Detective always causes problems for his team members — Batman believes he’s the only one who can stop can his worst fears that are embodied in the Dark Knights, seven dark versions of himself from the Dark Multiverse.
Pulling in various different directions, Metal continues the narrative of Snyder’s Batman with the reprisal of the Court of Owls and Barbatos revealed in his full glory after being a looming presence during the New 52 run, while still functioning as a Justice League story that showcases the strong friendship between the trinity that is Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. Despite all that, Metal falls into the trap of many event books, constantly throwing everything at the wall, including characters or ideas that quickly get disregarded, resulting in a story without a clear direction or even protagonist despite the covers featuring the most iconic superheroes all together.
Given that Snyder has lost some of the intimacy that made his previous DC works triumphant, he still maintains his trait of showing something that is both literal and metaphorical, with the MacGuffin that is the Nth Metal as well as evoking heavy metal music with the Super Sons themselves Jon and Damian doing their own cover of the classic ’60s Batman theme. Cute, if a bit on the nose.
Ever since his 2011 debut on Batman, Greg Capullo has brought something visually fresh to the dark streets of Gotham City, and Metal shows what he’s capable of when illustrating the wider DC universe. Despite all the clutter that gets in the way of the narrative, Capullo gets to have fun drawing many established DC figures, while showing the terrifying imagery that lies within the Dark Multiverse, such as the uniquely-designed Dark Knights that includes The Batman Who Laughs, a Joker-like figure that could exist in the demonic world of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser.
Despite the great creative team behind it, Dark Nights: Metal has not brought out the best in that collaboration as it suffers like most events do: full of filler and not much of a coherent storyline.
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