It may not be entirely clear, but Dark Nights: Death Metal #6 was not the penultimate issue of the event as that goes to War of the Multiverses. This special 81-page giant features 9 stories highlighting how big this event is in its final moments. As Wonder Woman rises up–as seen in Dark Nights: Death Metal #6–we see various sides of the battle in this issue which utilize characters like Swamp Thing, John Constantine, Raven, and even the Penguin! It’s all about war scenes but many come with a twist.
Fans of this event will want to pay close attention to the opening story by Joshua Williamson, Scott Snyder, Dexter Soy, Scott Koblish, and Veronica Gandini (with letters by Tom Napolitano). This story opens with Wonder Woman as a small child in Themyscira as she witnesses her mother and people honoring a great warrior. This opening tale is all about Wonder Woman’s relationship to war from her childhood and how it affects her fight in the present. Soy and Koblish do well to capture the various stakes as characters live and die on the battlefield. The Batman Who Laughs, who is in a shadow form, looks cool and Wonder Woman’s glow by Gandini’s colors make her angelic. It’s quite clear there is a good vs. evil thing going on and it works thanks to the art and how it captures a good vs. evil story entangled in battle.
Cast in gold and now huge in size, Wonder Woman fights the god-form of the Batman Who Laughs in a final showdown. As she fights she speaks to this abomination with cut-aways to various heroes of different dimensions fighting. Its message is clear: Never give up. That’s a good taster that bleeds into the stories that come after.
Plotting for this opening tale meanders a bit too much though and seems to circle its point as Wonder Woman and the Batman Who Laughs yammer on. It’s a setup story for sure and gets that job done but it takes its time to get to the next story.
Immediately following this tale is a Superman story by Magdalene Visaggio and Paul Pelletier. This is a good celebration of the various Superman characters that fans of any age will find something to enjoy. Cyborg Superman is going to make fans from the 90s light up, but there is plenty from new and old that’ll get fans jazzed.
James Tynion IV and Alex Maleev deliver an impressive Batman Who Laughs vs. zombie Batman tale. The art alone is impressive with multiple double-page layouts to stretch the story from left to right. It very much reads like a final showdown for the Batman Who Laughs and the main universe Batman.
Next up, Kyle Higgins and Scott Kolins show us a tale involving Atom along with some new versions of the Metal Men. Connecting these characters into a new narrative is intriguing and Atom gets to shine. Likely it won’t carry on, but Higgins and Kolins get to make a case for this story to exist someday.
Regina Sawyer and Alitha Martinez get the chance to reveal an alternate version of Lois Lane who is a superhero killer. We’ve seen her pop up in other anthologies during this event and it’s interesting to see how the fascist world that wants superheroes gone works. Seeing Wonder Woman’s head on a pike is a bit much, though! The message of fighting to the very end and never giving in to a fascist society is strongly written and drawn.
Che Grayson and Pop Mhan follow this with a Teen Titans tale with some intriguing alternate costume designs for each of the main characters. It’s a battle tale that leans into the premise of the main book of showing fights on the battlefield. The narrative juggles the characters well while dealing a dose of pro chosen family narrative. It suits the characters and it’ll be great to see what Grayson and Mhan come up with next.
Finally, we get the Penguin story we’ve all wanted after seeing him pop up in Dark Nights: Death Metal #6. Sporting an umbrella and a broken top hat, Marguerite Bennett and Inaki Miranda lean into the ultimate Penguin showdown. It’s interesting to read Penguin’s thoughts and his thinking that civilization is a machine that he “rebuilt” and wants to protect. It’s also crazy to see the various versions of Penguin drawn by Miranda and how they meet their end.
If you haven’t guessed yet, there is a lot of comic here which is revealed when Matthew Rosenberg and Rob Guillory take on John Constantine. The story pits an evil Johnny vs. our version and hilariously the battle turns from magic blue fire hands to a chat at a pub. How fitting. Guillory’s iconic style works well for the slightly comedic and off-kilter tale.
Wrapping up the book is a story by Justin Jordan and Mike Henderson who pit Swamp Thing vs. evil Swamp Thing with a touch of monsters thrown in like Frankenstein. Aside from an all-out battle, which Henderson draws with great abandon along with color artist Adriano Lucas, there’s a message here about our uniqueness being our linchpin to win against great odds.
As it stands Dark Nights: Death Metal The Last 52: War of the Multiverses–and really the entire event–is a celebration of everything DC Comics has done and will do. It’s a celebration of the incredible characters all coming together and the infinite possibilities within. The criticism above is brief because there’s so much in this book to enjoy. Likely everyone can find a story here they’ll love. This issue also serves as a reminder of the epic battle that is taking place involves every character from a vast multiverse and while this is only a taste it’s a robust one.
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