Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Dark Nights: Metal (2017-2018)

Dark Nights: Metal (2017-2018): written by Scott Snyder with James Tynion IV; illustrated by Greg Capullo, Mikel Janin, Alvaro Martinez, Jonathan Glapion, Raul Fernandez, and others: Metal writer Scott Snyder notes in his foreword that he wanted this Event Series to be a big event like the ones he remembered enjoying in his youth. And Snyder does manage lots of cosmic melodrama, dire moments, and seemingly doomed heroic final stands.

Metal may have the oddest set-up for a cosmic event comic ever. In the months prior to Metal, Batman had been investigating the origins of the weird metals of the DC Universe. That would include the resurrectional Electrum of his enemy The Court of Owls, the strange Nth metal of Hawkman's mace and wings, and even the protean shapeshifting of Plastic Man himself.

Against all advice, Batman -- who has probably been the cause of and solution to all of the Justice League's problems more than any other hero -- pursues his quest to the point of fulfilling an ancient prophecy that he thought he was working to forestall. Hoo ha!

To not give anything away, Batman's successful failure allows a whole lot of bad things to invade the DC Universe. It will be up to Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and all Earth's other heroes to rescue the multiverse from Batman's mistake. 

Snyder proves to have a strain of cosmic goofiness in him that I was not aware of. Metal evokes the original craziness of DC's 1950's and 1960's Silver Age while also playing at the edges of metafictionality as do the cosmic DC Comics of Grant Morrison. This is a story that is very explicitly about Story. Bringing Daniel, the 'new' Lord of Dreams (well, new since the conclusion of Neil Gaiman's Sandman back in 1995) into the fray serves to make the whole Story emphasis very, very emphatic.

It's not much of a stretch to note that essentially the DC Multiverse comes under fire from a whole lot of misguided pro revisionism and creepy fan fiction. I kid you not. 

It all works, somehow. Greg Capullo, who partnered with Snyder on a lengthy Batman run, channels his days drawing cosmic melodrama on Todd Macfarlane's Spawn to good effect. Things get a bit crowded with characters, not really a problem because that too is a nod to George Perez's meticulous, overcrowded work on the Nexus of all DC Comics Event Series, Crisis On Infinite Earths. Capullo does a nice job with all the punching and the kicking, the weird character designs for the invading villains, and the endless leagues of heroes and villains he must draw. 

Metal certainly isn't perfect. Like most Event Series, a number of story points briefly touched upon in the main narrative require the purchase of other comics in which those points are fleshed out more fully. Things get a little rushed at the end, to the extent that some confusion sets in as to who is doing what where, and what the heck is happening in some of the action sequences. This is not a problem peculiar to Metal. But in all, this is an enjoyable superhero comic that could probably be read by someone who's not fluent in the 80 year history of DC superheroes. Recommended.

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