Sunday, July 22, 2018

Dark Days: The Road to Metal (2018)


Dark Days: The Road to Metal (2018): written by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Grant Morrison, and Tim Seeley; illustrated by Andy Kubert, Jim Lee, John Romita Jr., Doug Mahnke, J.G. Jones, Eddy Barrows, Chris Sprouse, Greg Capullo, and others:

Technically a hybrid collection consisting of the prologue to the Batman/JLA story Dark Days: Metal, that prologue being Dark Days: The Forge and Dark Days: The Casting, along with select stories that supply some background to Dark Days: Metal. In theory, this volume could have been about a gajillion pages long.

Why?

Because Dark Days: Metal attempts to create a Grand Unified Theory for the origin of a wide variety of the strange metals and substances that have been appearing in DC Comics since 1940, from the original Hawkman's anti-gravity Nth Metal to the resurrecting Lazarus Pit of Batman foe Ra's Al Ghul. And dozens more. And the theory brings in the origin of certain types of superpowers, the reason why the Joker never dies, and... well, a lot. 

Dark Days: Metal writer Scott Snyder is definitely better at this sort of continuity epic than most, in part because the prologue is structured as a detective story. Batman tries to unravel the mystery of a variety of signs and portents linked to the mysterious origins of a whole lot of weird stuff in the DC Universe. 

Not to pick a nit too much, but the volume could actually use one of those Who's Who encyclopedia-like stretches in which the various thingies we see and are occasionally informed about are simply listed in terms of name, appearance, that sort of thing. I know that the 'Nth metal' of Hawkman's wings dates back to his first appearance. I'm a little shakier on '8th metal.' I know the Lazarus Pit from 50 years of Batman stories. The Electrum Ring of the Court of Owls? Unh, no.

Or was Hawkman's mace made of Nth metal? See what I mean? 

But as a prologue, this is certainly enjoyable stuff with some nice art and an interesting selection of earlier stories that also seem to have been selected to force you to buy those stories in their entirety, as most are cliffhangers from longer story arcs. 

In order to create even more cliffhangers, I'd recommend a volume consisting of pages or even panels introducing various objects and substances, ripped without context from 80 years of DC Comics. Recommended for continuity hounds. Maybe not so much for people who don't know what Nth Metal, a Lazarus Pit, or Vandal Savage are.

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