Review | ‘Dark Nights: Metal’ #1
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Inks: Jonathan Glapion
Colors: FCO Plascencia
DARK NIGHTS: METAL is a DC event unlike any other—one that will push Batman, Superman and heroes of the Justice League beyond their limits to take on threats unlike any our world has ever seen! It will take the combined might of the World’s Greatest Heroes as you’ve never seen them before to face what’s coming their way!
August 16, 2017
- New mythology for the DC Universe
- Reintroduction of fan favorite characters
- A Justice League Megazord
- Static, uninteresting art
- Exposition heavy
- Confusing for casual readers
It’s been a while since I stopped into my local comic shop and after hearing a few good things about DC Comics’ recent Mister Miracle, I figured I’d swing by and pick it up. Unfortunately for me, my shop was sold out. Not wanting to waste a trip, I picked up a few random issues, one of which was Dark Nights: Metal, the first issue of DC’s latest summer cross-title extravaganza. After giving it a read, I’m still up in the air on whether buying it was the right call or not.
The issue opens 50,000 years in the past with a narrative about three great tribes and quickly transitions to a story in media res of the Justice League locked in a Gladiator-style battle orchestrated by Mongul. Mongul has clad the heroes in accessories that negate their abilities and is forcing them to fight giant robots without any powers. As far as openings go, it was pretty powerful and fairly entertaining, though I don’t understand how it related to the main story at all. Unless it was some kind of continuation from a previous issue somewhere that I missed, all this section did was remind the reader of how clever Batman is.
Dark Nights: Metal was written by Scott Snyder and is the springboard for a new multi-month, multi-title, epic crossover. Snyder is best known for his work on Batman and helped to redefine the character during “New 52” so it comes as no surprise that Batman is the center for Metal. The issue is meant to set the scene for the next few months so most of it is just a run-down of the danger that the Justice League will have to contend with. It’s a universe threatening event and it’s laid out to the audience in no uncertain terms. Literally. Over pages and pages of dialogue. I suppose this is the easiest way for Snyder to really prime readers for what they’re in store for but it doesn’t make for the most explosive of openings. Quite the opposite, actually.
Greg Capullo’s art did little to capture my attention. I followed him and Snyder for a bit on their initial run on Batman when “New 52” launched and I remember Capullo’s art being far more intriguing than what we’ve gotten in Dark Nights: Metal. I’m not sure if this is due to Jonathan Glapion’s inks detracting from the pencils. Most of Metal is clad in bright lighting, making it a far cry from the darkness and shadows of the “Court of Owls” storyline from Batman. Or it could be the colors by FCO Plascencia, which, again, are far brighter than what I recall of Capullo’s early “New 52” work. It could also be some of the choices Capullo makes; though most of his pages are dynamic and exciting, there are a few panels that are static and uninteresting. Even confusing, on more than one occasion. I’d expect these poor choices from a lesser artist but it’s uncharacteristic from someone like Capullo.
As I stated earlier, most of this first issue is expository, explaining the nature of the “Dark Multiverse” (despite how ridiculous the concept is) so that it’s easy to understand by readers. That exposition helps to bring both regular DC readers and new readers on the same level playing field. However, this causes a confusing disconnect when it comes to casual readers (like myself) and really showcases all of the harm DC has done over the past few years.
Dark Nights: Metal spends pages reintroducing characters that are familiar to casual fans, again, like me, creating an awkward continuity. I found myself wondering why no one recognized Red Tornado or why the name “Carter Hall” isn’t familiar to any of the characters. That’s because all of the dicking around DC did with their universe invalidated these characters, so here Snyder needs to reintroduce them. Am I, as a casual fan who hasn’t regularly read a DC comic since six months into “New 52”, supposed to know that? Evidently, yes, and that’s where my enjoyment of the title started to plummet.
There are a few things that I liked about the issue, a couple of flourishes that brought a smile to my face. Batman riding a dinosaur was a neat little touch and came completely out of nowhere. I also liked Cyborg saying “Booyah,” his catchphrase from the Teen Titans cartoon. I don’t think it would have been possible for me not to hear Khary Payton’s voice in my head as I read that. Besides that, though, I was wholly let down by Dark Nights: Metal. The story didn’t do enough to grab me, the exposition was boring and the concept made me roll my eyes.
As a limited “Elseworlds” type series, I could see Metal being something interesting but as a multi-title crossover spanning six months and set in regular continuity, it just sounds dreadful. I do hope I’m wrong, however, and that the story produces some great lore but after the first issue, I’m not confident that will happen.