Dark Nights: Metal #1 Review
Written by: Scott Snyder
Pencils by: Greg Capullo
Inks by: Jonathan Glapion
Colors by: FCO Plascencia
Cover by: Capullo, Glapion and Plascencia
SPOILER WARNING: Usually our reviews are relatively spoiler free, allowing you to read and enjoy the issue. While this issue is still readable and enjoyable after reading this review, it may contain more spoilers than our normal content
Previously: In Dark Days: The Forge and The Casting, Hawkman wrote in his journal about his journey throughout history researching the strange Metal that seems tied to the very fabric of the DCU. He learned that the Metal is the source of Metahumans on Earth, and that it could herald the arrival of the evil and mysterious Dark Knights.
Like most event comics, this one starts off with a cryptic first page taking place thousands of years in the past, showing that with the end of the Dark Age and the fall of the clans of Wolf, Bear and Bird came the rise of the Bat clan and the beginning of The Age of Metal. We then jump back to the present and up to space, where we see that the Justice League is on War World. Mongul has outfitted them all with special armor that takes away their abilities, (Except for Batman, who’s already just Batman), and has captured Hiro Okamura, The Toyman, whom he has forced to create robotic titans for the Justice League to face in combat. The War World crowd cheers on as the Justice League square off against giant robots with their own color schemes. These robots are designed specifically to take down these heroes, and things are looking poorly for the Justice League. The tables turn when Batman discovers a way to turn these robots to their side, and together the Justice League and their robots soundly trounce Mongul and head back to Earth.
On their way home, the Justice League receive a distressed phone call from Alfred, who tells them that something unbelievable is happening in Gotham. The heroes arrive in the city to find that during strange storm with dark lightning, a mountain has appeared in the middle of Gotham City. This mountain emits a strange energy that Cyborg and Green Lantern both find unsettling, and the league investigate to find that there is a bunker inside the mountain, with a strange, unknown symbol on the door. Inside the bizarre energy is stronger, and the League finds a sealed pod with people inside it, as well as the dormant body of Red Tornado. Before they can investigate any further, the mysterious special forces group known as The Blackhawks arrive. They have been following Batman recently, and as he confronts them their leader Lady Blackhawk reveals herself to be Kenda Saunders, also known as Hawkgirl. She says the appearance of the mountain they’re in, Challengers Mountain, was the first shot of a full scale invasion, and she invites the League back to the Blackhawks’ island headquarters to learn more.
Back on Blackhawk Island, Kendra explains how her and Hawkman’s story begins with an Nth Metal dagger, and that she has one of the few remaining fragments of pure Nth Metal. She tells the Justice League of the various allies they have had over the years, like the original Blackhawks and the Challengers of The Unknown. She pulls out a map of the Multiverse, the same map that was featured in Multiversity, and explains that they couldn’t trace the source of the Metal to any of the 52 Universes in the Multiverse. She flips the map over and reveals that they had discovered the existence of a Dark Multiverse. Red Tornado and the Challengers of the Unknown were sent to the Dark Multiverse via a portal that took the entirety of Challengers Mountain with them. They were never heard from again, until now. Hawkman once followed them into the dark, and his whereabouts are still unknown, as is the location of his journal.
Before he left, Hawkman did discover that a dark entity, a beast of some sort dwelled in the darkness, known as Barbatos. Batman recognizes this name, but says nothing as Kendra reads from an ancient prophecy that suggests someone named Wayne is destined to be the one who will summon Barbatos. As Kendra is about to attack Batman to prevent the arrival of Barbatos, Red Tornado wakes up, hysterically shouting about an opened door and indiscriminately attacking everyone in sight. The Blackhawks and Justice League subdue the robot, except for Batman. He uses the opportunity to steal the fragment of pure Nth Metal and escape the island. He takes the fragment back to his cave to analyze, desperately looking for anything that might help him against the coming invasion. As he works he hears a strange humming, and goes upstairs to find that Hawkman’s Journal has somehow been stashed under the floorboards in Wayne Manor. As Batman reads it and learns that everything Kendra said was true, a strange voice behind him confirms his findings. Batman turns around to find Dream of The Endless, who has come to tell him that the nightmare is only beginning.
Thoughts on the issue:
After all the buildup and hype, Metal is here, and wow did it deliver. Snyder and Capullo have developed a fantastic writer-artist relationship that really shows. The opening scene on War World reminded me of a cold open, a short little story just to set the tone before the Title Card and the real story begins. And that tone seems to be: we’re having fun, we’re kicking ass, and Batman is awesome. Not that the story lacks gravity. On the contrary, the scope of the story feels massive, but not quite unwieldy. There aren’t 50 characters to keep track of or 4 different plotlines, so it feels manageable to have a story take us into a whole new Megaverse. Naturally, the reveal at the end of Dream a huge deal, but beyond that this book is laden with returning characters. Including but not limited to Plastic Man, Barbatos, Hawkgirl and The Metal Men, there is a lot for readers of any generation of DC comics to get excited about. I can’t wait to see what comes next.
One Last Thing:
The last time Dream was seen in the DCU was 1998, in JLA 23 by Grant Morrison and Howard Porter, and it was a very brief cameo in a story about dreams. This level of involvement already is unprecedented in a mainstream DC comic. And right in the middle of doing the same thing with Watchmen, this is a ballsy and exciting move.
One More Last Thing:
Here’s a small list of other books to check out if you’re curious about some of the elements that are likely to come into play in this story. This is only the first issue, so it’s still very difficult to tell what’s actually going to be reference, but this should be a decent starting point.
Dark Days: The Forge and The Casting by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV – Read this to see the lead-up to this story and more of Hawkman’s journal
Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne by Morrison – Read this to learn more about Barbatos and the Bat tribe
Batman: Endgame by Scott Snyder – Read this to learn more about the metal and Batman’s connection to it
The Sandman by Neil Gaiman – Read this to learn more about Dream and The Endless
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