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Dark Nights: Metal: Deluxe Edition Hardcover – June 12, 2018
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From the Publisher
Praise for Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Batman: "Scott Snyder has reinvented Batman, deepening and humanizing the Dark Knight's myth like no one since Frank Miller in the 1980s." —The New York Times
"This is the Snyder and Capullo show. This is the work of two men at the top of their games. They have never been more confident in their storytelling." —New York Post
"This is a book you need to read. Whether you're a fan of comics or not." —Huffington Post
“Where nightmares and reality collide.” —The Washington Post
“Packed as it is with both real steel and rock 'n roll.” —Syfy Wire
“Dark Nights: Metal is the Batman of your wildest nightmares.” —Polygon
"One of the best creative teams it's ever had." —Nerdist
About the Author
Scott Snyder is a #1 New York Times best-selling writer and one of the most critically acclaimed scribes in all of comics. His works include Batman, All-Star Batman, Batman: Eternal, Superman Unchained, American Vampire, and Swamp Thing. He has also been published in Zoetrope, Tin House, One Story, Epoch, Small Spiral Notebook, and other journals, and has a short story collection, Voodoo Heart, which was published by Dial Press. He teaches at Columbia University and Sarah Lawrence University and lives in New York with his wife, Jeanie, and his son, Jack Presley.
Greg Capullo is a self-taught Illustrator and the current artist on the best-selling and highly acclaimed Batman series for DC Comics. Prior to that, he was best known for his 80 issue run on Image Comics' Spawn, created by Todd McFarlane. Other popular comics work includes Marvel Comics’ X-Force and Quasar (as well as a slew of one-shot titles). He is also the creator of The Creech, a Sci-Fi/Horror comic published by Image Comics. Greg has provided art for Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft, contributed lead character designs for the award-winning HBO animated Spawn series, was the cover artist for many popular musical groups including Korn and Disturbed, and worked behind the scenes on many projects ranging from toy design to video games for TME.
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Grant Morrison is a writer I have a love/hate relationship with. In many cases his writing is incoherent with things just happening and random dialogue pouring out all over the place. He uses a lot of pseudo-scientific gobbledygook that means nothing and has established characters saying bizarre out of character monologues. On the other hand, Morrison has produced some brilliant stories such as All-Star Superman and Multiversity so he clearly has talent even if he sometimes has problems keeping focus. Snyder essentially has all the weaknesses of Morrison and none of his strengths. What Morrison did was basically create a new comic writing style where plot was pushed aside in favor of creating a maelstrom of ideas, images and words. Call me old fashioned but I think a story should have a plot and to his credit, when he reined himself in, Morrison could produce some great stuff. Snyder has never produced ANYTHING that I have enjoyed but he seems to be reaching a whole new level of garbagy.
The big problem is that Snyder knows nothing about pacing or building suspense. Everything moves relentlessly at 2000 miles per hour. Characters don’t talk, they monologue dramatically. Every fight is for the future of all space and time. When Batman steals a weapon it’s naturally, “The Most Dangerous Weapon in the Universe.” There is no restraint, there is no tension, it’s just full steam ahead. In Snyder’s follow up to METAL, called “No Justice”, the DCU is menaced by its greatest threat ever because OF COURSE IT IS! I had so little regard for this four-issue mini-series that I gave it one star and I’ve only done that a few times in all the years I’ve been reviewing.
In one sequence, a Batman surrogate is being chased by the Flash and we find out that he set a trap in the woods that sprays The Flash’s head with a substance encasing it in ice and The Flash takes a header into some swamp water. In the very next panel The Flash is leaning against a tree, having caught the pseudo Batman, and makes a nonsensical quip. Putting aside the ridiculousness of the ice trap it feels as if I skipped a page but this is Snyder’s style. There is often no discernible sequence of events. It’s just like unrelated moments occurring with no rhyme or reason. Near the end Wonder Women is searching the Dark Multiverse for Superman and Batman and SUDDENLY all three are together with super cool armor. How did this happen? Where did the armor come from? Doesn’t matter ‘cause it looks so KEWL. This jumping from point A to point B with no transition is all through the book. If I gave every example this review would be twenty times as long.
Another thing Snyder does is use, what should be important elements of continuity, like garbage. We find out the weapon Batman stole was Baby Darkseid. What… the… Hell? Where did THAT come from? Later, another group decides to use the shrunken brain of the Anti-Monitor as a weapon. Was it established that Darkseid is now a baby and the Anti-Monitor’s little brain is available as a weapon? No idea. What I do know is that neither of these elements had a bit of impact on the plot. Snyder used them for momentary shock value and then tossed them aside. Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor are two of the most storied villain the DCU history. Where is the respect for these two characters? There is none. I see no respect for continuity or characters or anything. Snyder writes like he’s swinging a sledgehammer.
Maybe I’m out of touch with the evolution of writing due to my age. Grant Morrison was sort of the genesis of this plotless storytelling but Morrison definitely has talent. I’ve even seen Geoff Johns get into with The Darkseid War which I thought was probably the worst event I’d seen him produce. Snyder is the current reductio ad absurdum of plotless, balls to the wall storytelling. The whole idea of building to a climax is lost. It’s just one long climax start to finish. The ending is the kind of ending you get when the author can’t come up with an actual conclusion. All the heroes come together, think happy thoughts and the problem evaporates. Intellectually offensive. Folks, DC is creating great stuff. Read Tom King’s Mister Miracle or Geoff Johns Doomsday Clock. Reject this junk or we’ll continue to see more of it going forward. Two stars because the art isn’t bad.
DARKN NIGHTS: METAL DELUXE EDITION collects the main series issues #1-6. After the Justice League escapes from one of their harrowing adventures in deep space, they return to Earth and see a massive landmass has risen in the center of Gotham City and spewing dark energy all around the world. Things are explained thanks to the journal left behind by Carter Hall AKA Hawkman detailing the Dark Multiverse, a evil universe opposite of our Multiverse who about to break free and sink everything into darkness. Batman knows what going on, but not the Justice League, and see’s that he is solely responsible to end this new threat without the League. Little does Batman know he’s the unknowing key to the Dark Multiverse invading, lead up the evil Bat-deity Barbatos and his dark knights, a battalion of evil Batmen themed after the Justice League. Time is running out for our heroes as the Dark Multiverse is ever expanding with little help, only the mysterious and ancient Nth (ninth) metal could stop the threat and Justice League have to go all over the Multiverse to get what they can.
I can’t help but feel this whole event was meant for THE NEW 52. I say this for a few reasons. One is that Snyder’s Batman acts a lot like that version with Batman being hotheaded and self-minded about himself compared to the Rebirth-era of Batman under Tom King where Batman is more stoic and calculating akin to an older version. And the other is that it makes zero mention to Geoff Johns DOOMSDAY CLOCK, which is the true leading story behind REBIRTH. It’s pretty isolated from DOOMSDAY CLOCK, so Snyder keeps his story under control and self-contained.
At best, you could say Snyder’s event could be called the “Dark” Crisis, fitting into the motif of DC’s past mega events CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, INFINITE CRISIS, and FINAL CRISIS. Even if this is big, it’s not as awe-inspiring and encompassing as the other three. DARK NIGHTS isn’t jumping various scenarios at the same time for all kinds of heroes and villains leading up to the Crisis. Snyder is mostly focused on Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman with the other main Justice Leaguers Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Cyborg to lesser extents as Earth slips into the Dark Multiverse. Plenty of DC cameos and lore come up at every turn, with the Dark Knights being an interesting parallel to Batman himself, and the lore Snyder expands on is pretty neat. That cover of the book with Batman riding a Joker-dragon? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not really Joker, but it really is a Joker-dragon that Batman rides on in the story. Stuff like that is crazy and fits the metal-motif of being outlandish. The League fighting in a Roman coliseum with armor, Batman fighting off numerous nightmares, Superman fighting the Dark Knights, to Wonder Woman fighting an entire army of Dark Multiverse versions of herself for hours are all moments that stand out and make for one hell of a ride. Even if Snyder's ending don't land for me, he always has a great knack for hooking you into the story from the beginning through the middle that makes great stuff akin to Stephen King.
Greg Capullo handles all six issues to match Snyder’s ambitious story. Lots of destruction, various locations, the designs of the various dark knights being evil-Batmen, to the hellacious Dark Multiverse is done in the most extreme metal-like fashion. It’s all high-level stuff and Capullo handles it well. The only time I though his art work felt a little weak was the first issue. Makes sense considering Capullo left DC to do Image Comics series REBORN with Mark Millar, so him getting back to DC was a little off coming back to the fold in my opinion until the second issue. His art work is still solid across the board.
Now as much as I liked this event and giving it 4-stars, I still felt there were glaring problems here. Snyder is still his usual self in making a grandiose event where all hope is lost and the heroes are on the ropes, yet pulls out some a few dues ex moments in the end. A famous VERTIGO character appears and I can’t help but feel they were unnecessary. Someone like the Phantom Stranger could have replaced him and it would have been fine. Tack on another certain character that disappeared from the DARK DAYS: ROAD TO METAL comes out of nowhere, another character lost and forgotten since the DC You period appears with zero explanation, a baby version of a certain super-villain appears randomly, and numerous plot lines that other stories have make for some confusing moments here without any red herring leading up to their reveals.
I didn’t like Batman’s portrayal of the first half of the story because it’s always about him. Again, I feel this was meant for THE NEW 52 era for Batman to act this way because he shoulders the entire burden. NEW 52 Batman is younger, less experienced, angrier, and more angst-ridden and it shows at the beginning. The entire Multiverse is going to be destroyed and Batman wants to save all by himself without actually knowing how to stop what’s coming is insanely stupid, even his own explanation behind it. This is further evident in issue #2 where Snyder pulls a “Batman vs. the Justice League” where the League is searching the entire planet to find Batman and ask to help him fight off the threat, yet has a boat load of global contingencies so he can’t be found like having most of the Bat-family involved with no explanation why or how was dumb. Snyder pulled this in THE NEW 52 issues #35 and #36 having Bats beat up the Justice League was bad enough. Sure the plan is to stall the League, but it’s so far-fetched and Snyder has gone off the rails ever since ENDGAME.
And speaking of off the rails and ending, Snyder ends this again on a high note and confusing one. As someone who has a decent grasp of DC lore and continuity, even I thought it got a little chaotic. Someone who has no idea what lore Grant Morrison set into play like the Orrery of Worlds, Hand of Creation, cosmic frequencies/vibrations, and the Monitor; it is head scratching for those new readers. This is further evident in massive dialogue dumps that Snyder is guilty of a lot of his work. Issue #1, #4, and #6 have tons of exposition explaining everything. Walls of text and numerous easter eggs is enough where DC aficionados can dig into, but new readers it will be white noise to them.
The ending, as much as it is decent and gives rise to interesting future for DC, pulls something Marvel is quite notorious for in their events that don’t have a true ending. It’s meant to transition into Snyder’s NO JUSTICE mini-series that will segue into him taking over JUSTICE LEAGUE. I am interested for sure, just it still the ending leaving a bit rushed and anticlimactic. Everything is wrapped up into a nice bow in four pages, so I felt that lacked a little.
DARK NIGHTS: METAL is another cut of Scott Snyder goodness going big in scope and keeping readers fastened to the pages with Greg Capullo’s artwork leading the charge. Its fun in a very metal-way, yet still has moments of heart between the Trinity. Though much like his past work, Snyder overwrites when he should let the art speak more, as well as having rushed ending that doesn’t feel earned. Throw in some confusing story plots by trying to out Grant Morrison in terms of scale and high concept like FINAL CRISIS, which doesn’t (shouldn’t?) have been the best way to add on to for DC lore. I don’t think it will ever reach the ambition of the previous three CRISIS, yet, maybe that’s not the point. Snyder just wanted to make a zany event and I think he overall managed, though it has its share problems.
I would have liked it more if DARK DAYS: THE FORGE and DARK DAYS: THE CASTING was included here instead of the confusing DARK DAYS: THE ROAD TO METAL, as well as DARK NIGHTS: THE WILD HUNT #1 to fill in the holes much better. Alas, it will be included in the next trade DARK NIGHTS: METAL: DARK KNIGHTS RISING coming out soon.