Dark Nights Metal #4
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: The Dark Knights have invaded! Seven evil versions of Bruce Wayne from the Dark Multiverse, each one representing a member of the Justice League, are led by Barbatos to conquer the Earth. The scattered heroes of Earth have broken into teams to search for Nth Metal weapons to use against the Dark Knights. Meanwhile, Barbatos has kept Superman and Batman trapped in horrific psychic prisons in the Dark Multiverse!
After battling the Dark Knights in their own personal arenas, the heroes are back to their initial plan. In a page that looks like it’s out of a storybook, we are reminded of the different teams their respective objectives before heading to the Dark Multiverse, where Batman, drained and old after being trapped in his psychic prison, is strapped next to Superman while he is being drained and used as a battery to power Barbatos’ doomsday machine. Batman is surrounded by different versions of Superman that all represent his worst nightmares. Bruce grabs a weapon from a version of Superman that killed Batman and took up his mantle, recognizing it as a weapon that he had developed. He tries to wake Superman up while fending off the evil Nightmare versions, but it doesn’t work. Batman has lived 30 years in the Dark Multiverse, but at the last moment he remembers an old piece of advice from long ago, when Daniel Hall told him to call him in Metal #2. He calls out to Daniel, and Superman and Batman both vanish from the Dark Multiverse.
Meanwhile, the various strike teams are arriving at their destinations. Wonder Woman, Dr. Fate and Kendra Saunders are at the Rock of Eternity, and are fighting the avatars of the Seven Deadly Enemies of Man, the sacred guardians of the Rock. Dr. Fate senses something malevolent there, and Kendra tells them that she knew this was a bad idea. Wonder Woman asks her why she’s so certain they will fail, and Kendra explains the fear she has felt ever since Hawkman disappeared. They are interrupted by a message from Aquaman, who has arrived ar Arion’s burial ground below Atlantis with Deathstroke. The entrance is littered with mutilated bodies, and the two enter the tomb. Exasperated with the pace of the search, Deathstroke plunges his sword right into the glass circle on the casket holding Arion. Aquaman is livid, but changes his tune when he sees that the circle is actually a portal, and Deathstroke tells him that he can sense Nth Metal on the other side.
On Thangar Prime, the secret headquarters planet of the Thanagarian Empire, Green Lantern and Mr. Terrific are being brought to the leader of the Thanagarians with their Plastic Egg in tow. They are greeted by Onimar Synn, who welcomes them to his court. Mr. Terrific begins to explain their quest to find Nth Metal to fight their invaders, but Onimar Synn cuts him off. Synn explains that until recently he was the nemesis of the Thanagarian Empire, and was able to recently take control with the help of his new partner, the most powerful telepath in the universe. On cue, Starro the Conqueror reveals himself. Mr. Terrific pleads with Synn, telling him that if Barbatos takes the earth, everything else will fall. Onimar laughs and lets Terrific know that Thanagar has known about the dark for some time, and have a contingency plan. They have created a weapon called the Phoenix Cannon. It is always pointed at Earth, and is prepared to destroy it if they ever need to prevent Barbatos from taking it. Apparently Synn has other plans for the Cannon, and all he needed for them was the Plastic Egg. Starro psychically subdues Green Lantern and Mr. Terrific as the Thanagarians take the Egg.
Batman and Superman “wake up” in the realm of dreams, face to face with Daniel Hall, the Lord of Dreams. He takes them to Lucien’s Library in the Dreamworld, and shows them a burning pile of books. These are stories that are never supposed to be told, and with the invasion from the Dark Multiverse, they have entered reality and threaten to destroy the entire library. Superman asks Dream to join them in their fight against Barbatos, but he insists that he cannot. Instead, the best weapon he can give them is a story. Dream then goes on to explain where Barbatos comes from, that he was one of the great entities that birthed the Multiverse. While the Monitor and Anti-Monitor managed the Orrery of Worlds, the Great Forger created them, and fed the ones that didn’t make it into the multiverse to his Great Dragon, Barbatos. Barbatos killed his master, and the worlds that should have been destroyed became the Dark Multiverse. Dream tells Superman and Batman that their best hope for stopping Barbatos is at the World Forge, where the metal is much stronger than Nth Metal. Dream opens a portal, and the two old friends head through.
Back at the Rock of Eternity, Wonder Woman and Dr. Fate are searching for Hawkman’s Mace, but Fate iws having difficult tracing its energy. Something or someone powerful is distorting his senses. The two of them turn to see Kendra holding the problem in her hands; she secretly brought the Astral Brain of the Anti-Monitor, and intends to go through with the inital plan of the immortals. Wonder Woman tries to stop her, since they don’t know what will happen to reality of they shoot it at the Dark Multiverse. It turns out that Diana didn’t have to step in, as Kendra falls to the ground in pain. Suddenly, she metamorphoses into the frightening Lady Blackhawk, a pawn of Barbatos. Dr. Fate tries to teleport away, but siddently Black Adam arrives and strikes him down. He explains that The Immortals have made their own deal with Barbatos, and demands Diana hands over the Brain. Superman and Batman arrive at The World Forge to no only find it has gone cold, but it is also protected by a terrifying looking Carter Hall, claiming to be the new Dragon of Barbatos!
Thoughts on the issue: No happy endings in this series as it heads towards its final act. Once again, we have an issue where the heroes have a semblance of a plan that is based on partial knowledge of their enemy, and it inevitably goes poorly. What keeps this cycle from going stale is that the heroes don’t try the same thing over and over, every new plan is an attempt to adapt and overcome, even though it happens with less than stellar results. The long-awaited Dream scene finally happened in this issue, and it feels like it was just an excuse to add an element to the creation of the Multiverse story. We got a glimpse of the dreamworld, but the new rule that it establishes raises some questions. In the pages of The Sandman, the Library was full of books that hadn’t been published because their dreamers had forgotten them, but that didn’t make them forbidden, and that doesn’t explain why revealing some stories means that all of them have to burn. And one last thing: Always fun to see Starro, and the “Five Finger Death Punch” is a fun reference to a popular metal band.