Review- Dark Nights: Metal #1

Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo seem as fed up with political agendas being forced down our throats under the guise of mediocre comic book writing as we are of paying over three dollars an issue to read them. Just give the racks at your local comic shop a cursory perusal and you are sure to be bombarded with ulterior motives and thinly veiled allusions to every ideological stance and social commentary under the sun; which is not in and of itself a bad thing, however, if you are like me, sometimes you just want to have fun when reading your comic books; like when we were kids. Well, I am happy to tell you that Scott Snyder and company have heard our pleas and delivered unto us the most entertaining and eye-poppingly gorgeous comic book of the summer. Dark Nights: Metal has it all; dinosaurs, gladiatorial combat, widespread urban destruction, manga inspired robotics and the return of a well-loved Vertigo character from those Gothy days of yore, the 90’s.

The Washington Post may have dropped the most egregious spoiler ever to grace the pages of a major newspaper when they ham-handedly published four pages of the DC Comics event  including the final page reveal which is certainly on par with the Watchmen moment that kicked off the Rebirth era. The revelation of the issue promises to play a crucial role in the event narrative going forward. In fact the ramifications will not only be felt in this story but, will also figure very largely into Batman’s ongoing investigation into the secrets of the Dark Multiverse. Snyder told the Washington Post that while the appearance of this fan favorite character will “spin the story in its essential directions” at its heart this epic tale “…really is a Justice League story focused on their discovery of the Dark Multiverse. The writer went on to speak of the importance of the League stopping the Evil Bat Men and preventing their use of the Nth Metal as a weapon in carrying out an insidious invasion.

This first issue has the benefit of getting right to the action since the lion’s share of the set up work was done in the primer issues; Forge and The Casting which gave us extremely detailed foundational elements. Snyder opens the issue with a tense moment as the League finds themselves in Mongul’s arena set to do battle against a threat they have never before faced. The action turns from Game of Thrones to Voltron in the blink of an eye as the team of heroes use alien tech to form an interlocking fighter robot. Capullo’s art is always impressive but, he kicks it up a notch here to bring a cinematic excitement to events that the page scarcely contains.

The mystery at the core of this event is one that has been plaguing Batman for quite sometime and while we do get rays of light shed upon some of the details, the mystery itself deepens. To say that Dark Night: Metal is a fun book could be a bit misleading; I mean it is a complex narrative full of darker elements, but it isn’t pretentious or unnecessarily weighty when it can be humorous and still convey the same sense of importance without sacrificing the entertaining tonal quality this book maintains throughout. It is a tough line to walk but, Snyder does it with surgical aplomb. The thing that makes Snyder so great is that he can take these complex plots and because he is such a fine technician make them accessible. Sure his character work is amazing, but more than that is his ability to pull us in, no matter how deep the subject matter we are willing to follow him because he makes us understand where he is taking us. There are definitely going to be twists and turns along the way but, we trust Scott Snyder to get us there as he has done on countless other occasions. That is why this big event book is so much fun; the circumstances ,dire though they may be ,only serve to heighten the feeling of elation when at last the heroes win; their numbers may be lessened, their bodies and very often their minds broken, but the good guys are sure to win. That’s why we read comic books, that’s why these characters have endured over the many decades of changing political tides and fickle social trends.

This is ultimately a tale of fighting back against a threat that seems unbeatable, about finding the light in a world that is growing darker by the day and doing it without compromising your core beliefs but, using them to your advantage and fighting the enemy with weapons they cannot understand like unity and willpower. Although we mainly have seen Snyder as a Batman writer, he handles the team dynamic of the Justice League as well as anyone. Its more than chemistry at work here its history and I think that Snyder being such a student of continuity really gets that in a way that escapes a lot of other JL writers. It also allows him to very astutely use an eclectic group of  seldom seen characters to more firmly ingrain this mystery in DC continuity; for instance his use of the Blackhawk characters, Carter Hall and the Multiverse itself. Like Grant Morrison, Snyder has an encyclopedic understanding of DC history as well as an obvious affinity for these unsung and under used characters.

Snyder and Capullo never fail to blow minds when they collaborate; they are that rarest kind of creative team of two creators that form one mind. There is seamlessness to their process that comes across so clearly when experiencing their work. If the rest of this event lives up to the start, this dynamic duo will have outdone themselves.

This is truly the big event book of the summer, it feels like the real thing because it is the real thing. Dark Nights: Metal captures the thrills of a Hollywood blockbuster and the no holds barred fun of a trip to the amusement park all without ever leaving the confines of your mind, now how’s that for the price of admission? 5/5

Writer- Scott Snyder
Art by Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion and FCO Plascencia

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