As DC Comics’ 2020 event Dark Nights: Death Metal marches toward its penultimate issue, out December 16th, the event continues to open up its infinite possibilities with anthology one-shots like The Multiverse Who Laughs. This week, heavy hitter creators like Patton Oswalt, Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, Saladin Ahmed, and Brandon Thomas get to cut loose in dark alternate universes with The Multiverse Who Laughs. If you’re a fan of anthology comics and dark twists on familiar characters, this is the comic for you.
This issue opens with a stage setting story by Scott Snyder, James Tynion, Josh Williamson, and Juan Gedeon with a Robin King fireside story. The character is used to touch upon how we got here — making this issue serve as a nice recap to the event — and then dives into a few dark and twisted alternate reality stories.
There’s a Maritan Manhunter tale that has an Alien vibe, and a Lois Lane tale that twists the character into a hero hunter. In each case, it’s a single panel story that helps let your imagination go wild. Gedeon does a great job with Robin King, who is like a late-night talk show host with a twisted edge. Mike Spicer’s colors keep things hazy and dark. It’s an effective way to show the limitless possibilities in these creators’ minds while also setting up the next four stories.
The first story is by Patton Oswalt and Sanford Green focusing on Batman villain Zsasz. This story has a clever twist that plays on your expectations of Arkham being a terrible place that holds evil like Zsasz at bay. If you think he’s bad, you need to read this story. Green captures a haunting quality in a worker at the facility who seems fine, but in subtle ways, his evil seems to come out. There’s a vacation home feel to the asylum, which defies expectations on top of Oswalt’s premise. David Baron’s colors give the story a cheery brightness.
Next up is a super-pets story by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti with art by Chad Hardin. The grit and grime of the previous story is juxtaposed well with a very clean and smooth looking story with great colors by Enrica Eren Angiolini. The very idea of a super-pets Earth that goes horribly wrong is darkly funny. Similar to the previous story, if you thought it was bad just wait for the ending.
Green Arrow gets a turn by Saladin Ahmed and Scot Eaton and features a superhero story that’s like a taster. An old man Green Arrow facing off against another hero who has let the power to police got his head.
Wrapping things up is a story focused on Steel by Brandon Thomas and Thomas Mandrake. It features an interesting future where Scarecrow’s toxin has taken over. Civilians wear masks similar to what Bane might wear. It’s another story on the shorter side but there’s an interesting idea of having lived a hard life and even a fear toxin can’t work its fear on everyone.
Overall, this is another good anthology in the Dark Nights: Death Metal event. It offers a variety of unique voices to tell twisted stories on familiar characters offering us a glimmer of darkness in a multiverse of infinite stories. With the main stories and opener, The Multiverse Who Laughs is filled to the brim with a variety of dark stories.
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