It’s been a while since the last Dark Nights: Death Metal, but we’ve had the opportunity to dig into side-missions via one-shot stories that have been a lot of fun. This week’s one-shot is Speed Metal, featuring the Flash family. We’ve seen the heroes attempt to get an edge in Trinity Crisis and we’ve learned a great deal from the Guidebook, but now it’s time to see how the greatest Flashes that ever lived can get an edge.
The Death Metal event has certainly been more for teens and adults, with darker and more sinister themes running through it, but by contrast, Speed Metal is an all-ages book. Joshua Williamson has crafted a story about never giving up, believing in each other, and staying together as a family. Like with any family, sometimes a member might disagree, but here we see them turn that disagreement into a positive. There’s a certain level of trust required to throw yourself into the deep end and Williamson has shown how important these characters’ bonds are — it may be their greatest strength.
This issue opens with great double-page splashes recapping how we got here, so if you’re wary of diving into an event so late, fear not, as it’s easy to catch up. Eddy Barrows was a great choice for this book as it’s dark around its edges, needs good realistic depictions of its characters, and it certainly needs to bring the harrowing feels. Go back and read Barrows and Robert Venditti’s Freedom Fighters to see what I mean. With inks by Eber Ferreira, the book has a level of darkness surrounding our heroes to help remind us they are the light that can save us. The light would be nothing without colors by Adriano Lucas, who separates the darkness from the light well. That’s important since the Flash characters are on the edge of darkness for quite some time.
There are also some cool new costumes to enjoy when the characters are corrupted. Speaking of design, Barrows does well to capture the horrific nature of the Batman Who Laughs’ monsters and minions. From the look of characters to the tricky work of making constant running and a nightmare world look unique, the art team has outdone themselves.
Most importantly, this book establishes a new direction for Wally and Barry. Who’s to say if the conflict between them ever goes away, but Williamson evolves their relationship and makes it feel earned. That, along with the heroes acquiring something to take to Wonder Woman to get an edge, gives this book all it needs to feel valuable and worth a read.
Since it so heavily deals with Flash family relationships, your enjoyment may vary on how much you’re invested in them. It takes some time to get moving on these scenes, so I expect some folks will wish it’d just get on with it.
Dark Nights: Death Metal Speed Metal is another good one-shot in an event that has taken a month off to let side stories percolate. Speed Metal is a wholesome superhero tale with a believable Flash family capable of defeating the worst evil imaginable.