Page-by-page with ‘Dark Nights: Metal’ #1

Oh, it’s Big Event time in the mainstream superhero world, and DC strikes first with Dark Nights: Metal, which seemed like a good time for me to swallow my indie pride, plunk down five (5!) ducats for this comic, and go over it page-by-page! It’s been too long since I’ve done this, but let’s get right into it!

So I thought awhile about buying this, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to get that Marvel “non-reboot” reboot comic that’s coming out, and while I skipped the two one-shots leading into this (Dark Days: The Forge and Dark Days: The Casting), I thought that DC wouldn’t make the first issue of their big event that impenetrable, right? I mean, some people would read this and not those two one-shots, which apparently showed a Bat-Cave underneath the Bat-Cave or something like that? Anyway, I’m sure you can go Google both those titles and find out everything you want to know about them. I’m going to break this comic down, page-by-page. In the past, I’ve done this without reading the book first, but I did read this already, so this is my second pass at it. But I’ll stick to what’s on the page, and not what’s going to happen! And yes, I will SPOIL the ending, because I can’t decide if it’s awesome or stupid, and it’s something we really ought to hash out. So let’s do this thing! Dark Nights: Metal, by the way, is written by Scott Snyder, drawn by Greg Capullo, inked by Jonathan Glapion, colored by Fco Plascencia, and lettered by Steve Wands. It’s 28 pages of comics, and it costs $4.99. Phew, that’s a chunk of change.

YEEEEEEAAAAHHHHAAAHHHHHHAAHHHHH!!!!!

First, the cover: There are four (I think?) different covers for this book, and since all of them were $4.99, I naturally got the one with the “metal”-embossed logo. It’s like the Nineties never ended! Bob Harras, of course, famously drove Marvel into the ground in the mid-1990s, and after the House of Ideas cheerfully (probably) shitcanned him, he went to work for DC in the 2000s before becoming Editor-in-Chief, the same position he held at Marvel, in 2010. And then he set about running that venerable company into the ground. Yay, Bob Harras! I have to think he was the impetus, or at least the cheerleader, for this cover, because he probably thought, “Damn, the Nineties were so great for our industry, and what made them great were the gimmick covers!” So we get this thing. Gahhhhddddd. Anyway, the one thing that puzzles me about this particular cover is the lack of Aquaman. So the Justice League is looking at Aquaman’s trident in the most worshipful way possible, but our old pal Arthur ain’t there. And what’s that between Green Lantern and Batman, and below Flash and Cyborg? It looks like a white mass with some hatching on it, but it also looks like a bird. It’s kind of weird. Am I missing something?

So let’s dig in with Page 1. It’s 50,000 years ago (yep, both this and the Marvel event will encompass all of human history, it seems), and a lizard is running over the hot sand. Here’s a good place to remind everyone to watch Snoop Dogg narrating nature documentaries:

But let’s move on, because the lizard isn’t that important! It runs past three symbols etched in the sand. The narration, ponderous and portentous throughout, begins! The narration tells us that back in the Stone Age, three great tribes of men lived on the Earth. We can figure them out from the symbols: The Wolf, the Bird, and … the Flaming Potato? That’s what the middle symbol looks like, people! But hark, it’s the Bear Tribe! So is that a … smoking bear turd?

The Baked Potato Tribe was always the most popular!

What the heck, people? Oh, wait, it’s a bear paw. Okay, it all makes sense now. Anyway, the tribes roamed around, doing their thing, but then, a fourth tribe showed up, a … “dark tribe.” A shadow falls over the symbols of the three tribes, one that looks suspiciously like a bat. In the final panel, the three symbols are obscured by blood. Oh dear. With the rise of the Bat Tribe, so began the Age of … (page turn) Metal!

Page 2. Unfortunately, the page turn does not take us to a Whitesnake concert, it takes us to an arena where the Justice League are chillin’. Okay, they’re standing in an arena dressed as gladiators, with purple blood staining their weapons and weird alien carcasses at their feet. No killin’ is for losers, yo! I’m always curious about how artists pose groups, so on the cover we get Superman slightly higher than everyone, but in this half-page splash, Wonder Woman is front and center. She’s not terribly important in the grand scheme of this book – like almost every DC event of the 21st century, this is a Batman-centric story – but it’s interesting that Capullo draws her as the point of the salient in this panel. In Panel 2, we get a close-up of Mongul (if you don’t know who he is, Batman identifies him in the next panel) asking what monster they should throw at the League next. Batman wonders what Mongul is doing there, because he was supposed to be in custody. Superman, dick that he is, actually tells Batman to focus on the task at hand, which is escaping. Come on, Supes! Like Batman can’t concentrate on at least 17 things at once. While he’s wondering about Mongul, he’s probably already come up with an escape plan AND downloaded every episode of St. Elsewhere onto his iPod. Dude can multi-task!

Flash is always in the back because he’s perpetually the loser of the group

Page 3. Mongul explains how he’s able to keep the League there, as he has custom-made their armor to weaken them. All we find out is that Flash has some vibrating boots that keep him from running fast and Wonder Woman has a venom-infused lock of hair from a Gorgon in her armor. Oh, and there’s what’s weakening Superman: “the dust of a few thousand crushed red suns.” Um, that’s not how stars work, Mr. Snyder. Anyway, Mongul has a “resident slave,” Toyman, who designs death machines for him, and Toyman announces the next one is called “fulcum abominus.” Mongul spreads his arms wide like Richard Dawson in The Running Man, and the crowd loves him. What’s not to love about a maniacal, murderous despot?

Who knew Mongul liked golf so much?

Page 4. So a bunch of robots that vaguely resemble the Justice League but also look like children’s toys come out into the arena and Flash says, “And … we’re fulc’d.” Yeah, okay, it’s corny but not bad. Wonder Woman calls for the “Aegea Formation,” which appears to be gathering in a circle with your backs to each other. Does that really need a fancy name? (“Aegea” doesn’t seem to mean anything, BTW.) Thus the fight begins!

Page 5. I should point out that Batman is sporting his “double-axes” look from the cover of Previews (which I guess is a variant cover of this issue?), so there’s that. He asks Cyborg to hack the robots, but he already tried that. The other Leaguers whine about their powers being compromised, and Capullo gets to draw some action. Basically, this page is “whine whine whine fight fight fight.” And sound effects: “Clang,” “Krang,” and “Budda Budda Budda.”

Page 6. Wonder Woman wants them to get into another formation, “Iphito” this time (another probably meaningless word, although it must be a brand name, because a Google Image search of “iphito” yields pictures of models wearing similar dresses and such), and this sparks something in Batman’s big brain (“Check out the big brain on Bats!”), because the only person who ever thinks in the DCU is, you guessed it, Batman. He wrenches the mouth of his robot apart and starts crawling inside, telling everyone to follow his lead. They, of course, think he’s nuts (why does anyone ever doubt Batman?). Deep inside the robot, he sees a Batman icon that he presses. It goes “Boop.”

Page 7. This seems to be a bad idea, as the “jaws” of the robot crunch shut. Flash tells Aquaman they need to help him and makes reference to Aquaman’s old harpoon hand, which a footnote tells us to “see the 90s.” Ha, ha, it’s funny because the Nineties were so awful and not at all like today, when superhero comics feature awesome embossed covers! It’s a weird thing to say, too, because this Flash is Barry Allen. If so, he was dead for the entire 1990s, so how the heck did he know about Aquaman’s harpoon hand? I mean, does Arthur bring it up at the JLA Christmas party? “Dang, if only I had my old harpoon hand, I could eat all of these shrimp in one go!”

Batman, meanwhile, is all wrapped up in cable and about to be eaten by the robot. He tells them not to help him, because he gave them an order to follow his lead. Come on, people, trust the Bat-God! He knows what he’s doing!

Batman doesn’t want them to help him because he is, of course, strangely aroused by this

Page 8. Batman tells them to activate the symbols inside the robots and let them eat them, which seems strange to the rest of the League But they do it, and the robots begin dragging them into their mouths. It’s all very dramatic.

Page 9. We get the first of several straight exposition pages, as Batman tells everyone how smart he is. Capullo makes it interesting, putting Batman in the background and creating several stacked horizontal panels with a Leaguer in each one, so that they can all react to how smart Batman is. Bats tells them that Toyman didn’t like being a slave, so he named his creation as a clue – “abominus” is something that “defies the order of things” (the closest translation I can find is “avert,” but okay, Bats), while “fulcum” is a warrior formation to lock shields (which does seem to be the case). Wonder Woman figures it out pretty quickly, but the others must never have watched Voltron when they were kids, because they still don’t get it.

Page 10. Yep, it’s Voltron. Still pretty keen:

Superman and Wonder Woman get the torso so they can canoodle while everyone else fights

Mongul, naturally, runs for it, because nobody really wants to fight Justice League Voltron. Flash asks why he has to be the foot, and Batman tells him it’s so he can “kick his –” And … scene! Yes, DC can’t allow the word “ass” to appear in their comics. The Joker slicing his own face off? Good to go! “ASS”? Don’t be absurd!

Page 11. After two pages of credits (yes, really), we get back to the story, as the League returns to Earth. Barry, continuing to act like Wally, murmurs petulantly that he liked his “fulc’d” joke, and I’m wondering why they brought Barry back if he just acts like Wally. Superman asks Batman if he thinks Mongul’s escape from the “Braalians” is connected to what he’s investigating, and a footnote points us toward the previous one-shots. Batman (who looks ridiculous with a five-o’clock shadow, BTW) basically ignores Superman (I don’t love Dick Batman, but occasionally he’s funny) and speaks to Alfred, who tells him something bad has happened in Gotham. So it must be Tuesday!

Well, that can’t be good

Pages 12-13. Yes, a giant mountain has suddenly appeared in the middle of Gotham City. Because of course it did. Alfred tells Batman that there was some kind of energy storm (aren’t all storms basically energy storms?) and “dark lightning” (by which he must mean purple lightning, because that’s what we see) flashed down, and then the city “seemed to make room” for the mountain. But there’s a lot of devastation. So how did the city make room? If it did, it didn’t do a very good job of it. Anyway, Wonder Woman tells Batman he couldn’t have foreseen this, but of course he knows there are always signs of things coming. Green Lantern says the energy coming off the mountain is like the energy in Batman’s Double-Secret Probation Bat-Cave, which must be from one of the two one-shots (I still refuse to find out more about them!). Aquaman says the stone is volcanic, which means it didn’t come from beneath the surface, but from “somewhere else.” O … K. I’ll trust Scott Snyder on this, even though he thinks suns are made of dust. Superman sees a bunker inside it, and Flash goes to investigate, where he finds a door with an hourglass on it. There’s a lot of sand in the bottom and not a lot in the top. Oh dear.

That’s an hourglass, right? I’m not going insane?

Page 14. Cyborg says that he’s run the image over a thousand times already (he says this at the bottom of page 13, but his thought continues to the next page), and it keeps coming up “unknown.” Um, guys? It’s an hourglass. I mean, they’re not that obscure, right? Anyway, the League goes into the bunker, which looks like a laboratory. Cyborg says the energy readings are “off the electromagnetic spectrum,” which stinks, I guess. There’s a pod made of a titanium alloy that doesn’t have an engine, so it’s not for flying, and then there’s a core where the energy is coming from, in which are five people, seemingly preserved with cryogenics. Well, that sucks. The energy is getting stronger, which is freaking Green Lantern and Cyborg right the hell out. Then Cyborg finds Red Tornado, who’s standing near the cryogenic pod. He thinks if they could activate him, they could get some answers. Wait, is Red Tornado not in the DCU at the moment? Was he in the DC52? Has it only been since “Rebirth” that he hasn’t been around? Poor Red Tornado. He’s ridiculous, but still kind of cool. And here he is, gathering dust. Although, if we know anything about fiction at all, he won’t be gathering dust for long. Yes, it’s Chekov’s Android!

Page 15. Green Lantern finds a message written in what appears to be blood that reads “It’s chasing us RUN,” which doesn’t seem good. I question whether it’s written in blood, though, because the lettering is very nice and even and wouldn’t someone pass out from losing that much blood in the first place? Also, wouldn’t they just write “RUN”? Anyway, it’s pretty danged impressive if it’s in blood. Then three heavily armored people walk in and one of them tells them to freeze and step away from the “C-pod.” Green Lantern, naturally, asks who the hell they are, and Batman says that she’s “Lady Blackhawk.” She runs the Blackhawks, “some kind of damn covert anti-apocalyptic team” (I like how he says this disdainfully – how dare those people try to stop the apocalypse!). Batman, of course, has been watching them, but LB tells him there’s still plenty he doesn’t know. Batman asks why he should trust her, and she says “Because I’m not just Lady Blackhawk, Batman …” as she begins to take off her mask, and then we get the page turn, which is unintentionally hilarious, because …

Page 16. When the mask comes off, she says her name is Kendra Saunders. It’s unintentionally hilarious because when you say something like “I’m not just Lady Blackhawk,” the next thing should be something that makes everyone, the characters in the story and the readers, say “HOLY SHIT!!!!” As in, “I’m not just Lady Blackhawk, Batman … I’M ALSO YOUR MOTHER!!!!!” Instead, she tells them her name and immediately reassures everyone that they have no idea who she is. I mean, DC readers might know her (she was Hawkgirl in another iteration of the DCU), but the revelation doesn’t have any impact on the League. So it’s just a little funny. She tells them that they need to come with her, even though Gotham is a mess, because what happened in Gotham is just the “first shot fired … of a full scale invasion.” She can’t say the name of … somebody? something? Voldemort?, because it’s not safe. No, she has to take them to … the South Pacific, to an island where she can speak freely. And so begins the major, MAJOR expository portion of our comic. Man, it’s going to be tough to get through, but I have faith in each and every one of you! Kendra begins by saying that there are certain places on Earth that lie outside the normal rules of the world. In those places, the “cosmic energy conducted through the Earth’s metal core cancels itself out,” creating “a kind of ‘static’ that disrupts space-time.” So far, so stupid. The island they’re on – Blackhawk Island, natch – is one of those places, as we see from the dinosaurs running around outside the citadel in which Kendra is lecturing.

‘Of the Kennebunkport Saunderses????’

Page 17. We’re in some kind of atrium, and there’s a big golden statue of Hawkman in the background. In the foreground are several artifacts, but they look too generic to really mean anything. Kendra tells them that the island used to be a base for a “great detective of history,” Carter Hall. She gives us the understatement of the year by saying “Our story sounds crazy …” before launching into her origin, which is that she and Carter were stabbed with a dagger made of a mysterious substance and therefore were reincarnated basically forever. Carter always wanted to know the secrets of the material the dagger was made out of – Nth metal. Kendra holds a fragment of it for them to see, “one of the last pure pieces left in the universe” (how does she know? the universe is pretty big). It gives “vastly different powers to those who possess it,” and it “broadcast[s] a strange kind of energy.” So, if I’m understanding this right, Nth metal is the source of superpowers in the DCU. I mean, it’s slightly dumber than a “metagene” in that how does one “possess” the metal? If they lose the metal, do they lose their superpowers? This seems off.

Page 18. Kendra continues to exposit, saying that Carter believed that the metal was from somewhere “beyond our cosmology.” The clues he found about its origin warned him that it was evil, but Carter didn’t believe it and recruited people to search for it. She says, and I’m quoting exactly: “What he found were warnings, claims that the metal came from evil and lead to evil.” I read that and my teeth starting grinding. I get that grammar and spelling are mutable and we shouldn’t be strict grammarians, but we still have certain standards, and I’m much stricter about spelling than grammar. THE PAST TENSE OF “LEAD” (TO GUIDE SOMEONE SOMEWHERE, THAT IS) IS “LED,” NOT “LEAD.” I get that the metal “lead” is pronounced like the past tense “led,” but they’re two different words, for crying out loud. The writer of a blog I read pretty regularly does this ALL THE TIME, and it drives me crazy. I don’t know if Snyder knows the difference, but even if this is just a typo, once again, the letterer saw this, presumably the three editors saw this, and nobody caught it. And if Kendra means it “leads” to evil in the present tense, well then she’s mixing tenses (poorly, I might add), and that’s almost as annoying.

Anyway, while she’s telling the League about the various people Carter recruited, we see pictures on the wall of those people. We see the (presumably) World War II Blackhawks, the Will Payton Starman (which, for me, is the biggest “fuck the heck” moment in this book, because, I mean, it’s Will fucking Payton), Will Magnus and (I guess) T.O. Morrow, and the Challengers of the Unknown, with Red Tornado standing among them. Kendra and Carter fought over his efforts, but she says that not long ago, he and his team were ready to travel to the “other side.” Meanwhile, Cyborg tells Green Lantern that the energy is getting stronger, and that something is getting closer. Oh dear.

He even looks like a loser in his heroic portrait!

Page 19. Kendra breaks out the map of the multiverse that Grant Morrison and Rian Hughes came up with and shows it to the League. Carter, she says, couldn’t trace the metal to any known universe, and Flash tells her that the multiverse is all there is. Kendra disagrees, and in a awesomely stupid mic-drop move, flips the map over … to reveal nothing but black. This, she says, is the “dark multiverse.” Duh-duh-dummmmmmm!!!!!

Page 20. After the page turn, Wonder Woman gets the best line in the comic, one that all the readers are probably thinking:

Diana cuts through the bullshit!

Kendra says “Until recently, that’s all any of us saw.” Then she goes on to say that astronomers recently discovered a third material that makes up the universe, something different from matter and anti-matter, called … dark matter!!!! So we should look at the map and imagine Nth metal connecting our multiverse to an “oceanic, subconscious realm.” The funny thing is, she doesn’t really address the fact that they’re looking at a black, unmarked surface. Wonder Woman wins again! Kendra says that Carter took his team in, but the entire mountain they were in (the mountain that, presumably, has now reappeared in Gotham) was ripped out of reality, and their last transmission spoke of worlds of evil and a plea to shut the door and never open it again. Red Tornado got off a warning about a great dragon prowling the dark called Barbatos. She says that Carter kept a journal that she used to find out that the beast has been worshipped through history, “prayed to through metals by the dark tribe, enemy of the birds.” Well, that sucks.

Page 21. Kendra continues to exposit, as she says that the legend says that Barbatos comes to Earth through a “human doorway, someone treated with five divine metals by its followers.” Needless to say, these metals don’t appear on the periodic table. But, she says, the name she wouldn’t say before is even worse. Holy shit, Kendra, tell us more! In the legends, there are references to a wagon that will carry the beast. Wait, Barbatos can’t walk itself? Jeez, what a lazy monster. Anyway, “wagon,” of course, is the root of “Wayne.” Holy shit, John Wayne is going to bring the beast to Earth! Oh, wait, there’s another Wayne in the DCU. Dang, Bats, be a dick, why don’t you? Superman asks, somewhat skeptically, that her theory is that “a being as old as the universe has been targeting Batman for thousands of years from a dark multiverse.” If this book weren’t so deadly serious, Kendra would have said, “Well, when you put it like that …” But before anyone can do anything else, the Blackhawks have their guns trained on Batman (awww, isn’t that cute, thinking they can take him?) and Kendra is about to put him under arrest. Um, she does know there are other Waynes, right? Is his brother still alive? And what about Damian? That little asshole would let a rampaging dragon older than time into our world to destroy it just because Wally West called him “short.” Anyway, before anyone can do anything, Red Tornado wakes up and screams “You opened the door!” Well, sure, Red T. We had to shoo a mosquito out!

Page 22. Red Tornado does his tornado-ey thing, all while screaming that “he’s coming.” Kendra wonders aloud if Batman triggered Red Tornado in some way, and then realizes that the Nth metal piece she was holding is gone. Green Lantern says what we’re all thinking:

When Hal Jordan is smarter than you are, Kendra, you might want to rethink the direction of your life

Page 23. The next line is “It’s something state of the art,” which is the joke, because Batman is already outside, corralling a decidedly un-state-of-the-art dinosaur and riding it off into the jungle. It’s not quite as cool as it sounds, because it’s not a very big dinosaur, but of course Batman is riding a dinosaur! He contacts Alfred to get him out of there, and then we get back to the narration. We find out soon enough that this is Carter’s journal, but we still don’t know that (unless you read the one-shots, which I guess also feature this narration in the same font). Carter thinks that the end will come with a “shot fired from the dark, something to tear a hole in reality.” Oh dear.

Yep

Page 24. Carter’s journal continues on a splash page, as he writes that those attuned to the Nth metal will start to see visions. In the center of the page, we get a circle with several red-tinged silhouettes in the center. I guess these are all the “darker than our really dark Batman” Batmen that we’ve seen in Previews recently? Whatever, they’re coming! The three heroes Snyder chooses to put on the page as being able to sense the evil are Dr. Fate, Metamorpho (I guess that’s Rex?), and Plastic Man. Won’t that be fun!

Page 25. Back in the Bat-Cave, Carter’s journal continues, as he says the “dark army” of … Batmen? are on their way to find the “Son of the House of Wayne.” Good for them! Meanwhile, Batman tells Alfred that he’s doing this on his own because he’s trying to protect the League, and he doesn’t have much time. He says that the sample he stole from Kendra has a great amount of energy coming through it, and that must be why the Braalians weren’t watching Mongul, because Braal is so magnetic. Um, what? I mean, I knew there would have to be some explanation for Mongul at the beginning, because you don’t waste page space on prologues even if they do feature Justice League Voltron. But that … I mean, were the Braalians unusually susceptible to headaches because of their planet’s magnetic core, so they couldn’t concentrate on Mongul? Did the dark energy make the core stronger, so they couldn’t get up when Mongul escaped? You have to suspend your disbelief a lot when you read superhero comics, but that off-handed remark makes no sense whatsoever. Before we turn the page, Carter’s journal chimes in with a dire pronouncement: “If Wayne has been prepared by the Judas Tribe, if the agents of Barbatos have set in motion its coming …” What, Carter, what?!?!?!?

Page 26. “… then there will be no running for him. No running for any of us.” Oh. Okay, I just thought you were going to threaten him. “If Batman is going to betray us, then I’m going to stick a hot poker right up his urethra – we’ll see how he likes that!” But no, just running. Always with the running. Hey, the first panel shows our good friend the lizard again! For no reason, true, but how ya doin’, buddy?

Back in Gotham, Alfred hears a humming, like a tuning fork, as Batman points out. “It’s upstairs,” says the Caped Crusader, because of course he has a giant tuning fork “upstairs.” I guess this is the one from Crisis on Infinite Earths? I don’t know, I just vaguely read about the two one-shots and saw something about a tuning fork from that book. Carter continues with his portentous writing, saying that Barbatos first saw “him” (Batman, I suppose, although it’s deliberately vague) in a final moment of crisis, and Capullo draws a dark scene with a lot of bodies strewn in the foreground while in the background we see a crashed Flash Gordon-like rocket. Then we get a clock that shows it’s about ten o’clock. Is Snyder going to sneak in some Watchmen stuff, too, just for fun, or is this just the time? Carter writes that the second moment – the second time Barbatos sees Batman? – is upon us. Dang!

Am I missing a reference here? Help me, nerds!

Page 27. Batman strolls through the manor toward the humming, and he finds a fiery bat etched on the floor. Apparently this is a cut-out in the floor, and underneath it he finds … Carter Hall’s journals!!!!! He pulls a Han Solo as he looks through one:

Meanwhile, Carter’s journal is still narrating. He says he left the journals in the manor (how did he get into what has to be an incredibly fortified home?) because he trusts Bruce, who has turned from the Bat Tribe to the Bird Tribe (what’s so great about birds anyway? cuckoos are horrible things, and doves are always shitting on my car). The bat-insignia appeared because the energy from the dark is foretelling the coming of Barbatos, so Bruce needs to read the journals. And as Bruce is reading, we get this weird speech balloon:

Looks like a bong

Page 28. Okay, this was spoiled on Monday, apparently, but if you really don’t want to know what happens on the final page, just stop reading or quickly skip down past this section, including the scan I’m going to put in here. I don’t think it’s really that big of a deal, but some people really don’t like spoilers. So, should I give you a minute? Here we go …

It’s really happening, people, so beware!

Okay, you’ve had your chance!

Batman already met you, punk, so he probably knows who you are

Yes, we turn the page and find Daniel Hall, better known as Dream of the Endless. He tells Batman that what he’s reading is true, and he’s there to tell him what everyone already knows, that the nightmare is just beginning. I mean, it’s pretty cool that Dream shows up, but at least in this issue, he’s kind of superfluous, isn’t he? Anyway, this Dream, you might recall, is Carter Hall’s grandson (or he used to be, before becoming Dream), so that’s pretty neat. I was making a joke about the ending of this issue at the store. I said now I know why it costs 5 dollars, because DC had to back at least one, if not two, dump trucks full of cash up to Neil Gaiman’s house to get to use Dream, didn’t they, and they have to recoup that somehow? I can just picture Gaiman, standing outside because his house is already full of American Gods TV money, on the phone with Danny D and Jimmy Lee: “Hey, you guys, I only see one dump truck full of cash. I thought we decided on two … ah, yes, here it comes – it must have missed a traffic light or something. Thanks, guys!” Neil Gaiman is livin’ the dream, man. See what I did there?

Artist’s rendition of Mr. Gaiman and friend

So that’s that. Despite a whole crapload of exposition, this wasn’t a bad issue. Snyder is good at setting things up, so I’m not surprised – it’s endings he has a problem with, so we’ll see how this works out. Metal is, even with the exposition, pretty batshit insane, and it doesn’t always make a whole lot of sense, but it gets us to where we want to go. I mean, it’s just another “death of existence” threat that we see all the time in comics, so the ancillary stuff has to be more interesting, so we get switching the power source of DC superpowers from genetics to metal (unless you got your powers from a freak accident or from being from another planet or from a creepy alien giving out magic wishing rings), which is strange, but not too unprecedented.

Snyder also is bringing back a bunch of old characters, as we see throughout the book. This has less impact on me because I haven’t been keeping up with the DCU, so frankly, I didn’t know they were gone. I mean, DC did run that “Death of Hawkman” mini-series a while back, but I have no idea if this means that Hawkman is back or if DC is going to ignore that series. But hey, a DCU with the Challengers of the Unknown, Red Tornado, Dr. Fate, and Plastic Man in it is objectively a better DCU, so hoorah for that. Of course, the big deal is Dream showing up. This wasn’t necessarily a slam dunk – as Travis pointed out recently in one of our Previews posts, Gaiman objected to something on a Suicide Squad cover and DC pulled the entire project. Gaiman is very careful with his creations, and he must have signed a hell of a deal with DC since they haven’t tried to bend him over a desk like they enjoy doing to Alan Moore, so for Dream to be in this comic must mean that Gaiman has a great deal of trust in Snyder, if not the upper crust of DC (I have no idea how he feels about Harras, DiDio, Lee, and Johns). I imagine Dream’s presence in this comic is carefully curated, because I’m sure Gaiman wouldn’t just let him into the story unless he had some say over how he’s handled. It’s still kind of strange, because it doesn’t seem like Dream would care all that much who’s actually dreaming, as long as someone is. Does Barbatos not dream? I’m curious about how Dream will be incorporated into the story (not curious enough to buy the series, but still curious!).

I won’t be buying the rest of Metal because I just don’t care that much and I don’t want to drop 5 bucks on each issue (and if it’s not 5 bucks a pop, I don’t want to drop 4 bucks an issue on it!). I do like to check in with the Big Events every once in a while, because the DC books I do read tend to be on the fringe, and I’m not in tune with the main currents of the line (this is the same for Marvel, so when that thing comes out, I’ll probably be as in the dark then, too). But it’s fun to do every so often. Snyder knows what he’s doing (whether I like his stories or not, he knows what he’s doing), Capullo is a perfectly competent superhero artist (and his Batman chin isn’t quite as large as it’s been in the past, yay!), and the book looks very nice. Whether or not that’s enough to get you to buy it is up to you, I guess. Just don’t buy it for the idiotic embossed cover. Don’t let the Nineties win, people!

Did anyone else read this? What’d ya think?

27 Comments

  1. frasersherman

    Even if I still bought comics regularly, there is no conceivable big event that I would want to pick up. None. Nada. So it’s good I don’t buy Big Two comics regularly as I can avoid having half the year’s issues tie into a big event I’m not going to read.
    I recently finished rereading my Green Lantern collection. An entire year of the book ties into Blackest Night/Brightest Day which is even more annoying now than at the time.

          1. frasersherman

            Neither did my old one before I moved up to Durham. Coupled with stuff of my own I reread, i probably read more comics a week than I’ve done in years.

  2. Pol Rua

    Sounds like a standard issue DC event comic.
    Essentially, drop a bunch of old names like a Wayans Brothers ‘Reference’ Comedy – “Challengers of the Unknown! That’s a Thing!” – without actually DOING anything with them, and drown the whole thing in a bunch of ominous sauce which is long in portentiousness and short in coherence.

    At this point, I’m predicting we’ll end up killing a bunch of D-List forgotten characters, revitalize several characters that are currently in Limbo (Hawkman/Hawkgirl are the obvious choices for heroes, I suspect we’ll probably get an updated Vandal Savage in the bargain on the villain side, and something weird like Dr.Will Magnus turning evil or something to round it out, maybe even some sort of bizarre revelation about Kryptonite or Prometheum or whatever).

    It’ll be (x-1, with x being the number of issues in the series) issues of portentious, ominous build-up with everything getting steadily worse and worse, until, in the final issue, someone pulls something out of their arse (probably Batman, but it could be another hero who does it to show Batman the error of his ways maybe) and it all gets neatly resolved with nothing really changed except for the above couple of things.

    Basically, a standard issue bait-and-switch. Massive amounts of hype and build-up and a damp squib to wrap it up.

    1. frasersherman

      This opening issue reminded me of that How to Make a Blockbuster Movie Trailer (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAOdjqyG37A). “Ponderous Statement or Question” “Mindblowing Revelation” “Call to Action,” “Statement of Causality”

      $5? Double not getting it. I just picked up an Airboy Archive for the price of four $5 current issues and I’ll enjoy it more.

      Dream Daniel did indeed appear in JLA, during Morrison’s run.

  3. I thought the deal with Gaiman was that without his permission, DC wouldn’t use Death, Delirium, Destruction, Despair, Desire or Morpheus. Because Destiny predated Gaiman, he’s still okay to use, and Daniel was (I think) the only other family member of the Endless who could continue to be used freely (presumably because Gaiman didn’t mind, not because Daniel first appeared as a sperm in Infinity Inc.) As well as The Dreaming, Daniel’s popped up in some odd comics before (from memory – maybe JLA, JSA, and one of the crises? Infinite Crisis?) The oddest thing I found about this issue was that apparently it’s okay for people to throw around the fact that Batman’s name is Wayne without asking him first.

    1. Greg Burgas

      Drancron: Hmmm, I don’t know about that. I just assumed that since Gaiman created this Dream, he fell under the umbrella of what DC wasn’t allowed to use without his permission. When he showed up in Morrison’s Justice League years ago, I could have sworn they made a big deal about how Gaiman was allowing them to use him. But maybe I’m wrong. Still, I love the idea of DC backing dump trucks full of cash up to Gaiman’s door!

      Yeah, a LOT of people seem to know Batman’s identity these days and have no problem telling anyone they know. And Bats doesn’t seem to care.

      1. From what I’ve read, Gaiman did indeed approve of this appearance. I guess he did an interview with Snyder in the fake news Amazon Washington Post, iirc. Hey, diapers aren’t cheap, man! And yes, iirc, he did also ok the JLA appearance of Daniel.

        Destiny apparently appeared in the new Justice League of America book recently.

        As to that Suicide Squad book that got canned, I’m of two minds. Either the editorial people for that heard about the Metal appearance and assumed any Endless use (or mashup thereof) was ok, or it was quashed not so much because Neil necessarily didn’t like the idea, but so they didn’t overshadow this appearance. Maybe. I dunno.

        But jeebus, how generic is this appearance of Daniel? I guess since he’s Carter Hall’s grandson in some universe, it makes sense, but basically the role he’s in as of this issue could be filled by literally any character.

        But yeah, this means that this is where the Justice Society is returning, folks. When it happens, remember that you heard it here first!

      2. I can’t remember where I read the Daniel thing – it may have been as far back as when The Dreaming started in terms of which characters they were and weren’t allowed to use without Gaiman’s direct oversight. Hank Wagner’s Prince of Stories had a quote from Gaiman about the difference between him never working for DC again and maintaining a friendly relationship with them – basically, that pissing him off would be the equivalent of DC taking all their future Gaiman cash, filling those dump trucks with it and starting a dump truck bonfire. (Flipping back through this issue, the “All I see is the back of a map” panel is also a cute shot of the New 52’s equivalents of the women who – pre-Crisis – would be Daniel’s grandmothers.)

        1. …OK, that’s pretty good (the grandmothers bit). But not quite good enough to get me to buy it!

          I thought the Dreaming had Gaiman at least look things over? I assume he recommended some or most of the writers (like Caitlin Kiernan, iirc).

          But yeah, it’s good to know that DC was at least smart enough in this case to not fuck up their relationship with a great writer.

          Is this the first post-Karen Berger at DC use of Neil stuff/participation by him in stuff? Overture was at least in the works before she left, even if it didn’t come out until after she was gone, at least. It certainly must be the first post-Shelley Bond stuff.

          1. Vertigo had Lucifer and Mazikeen still active until June of this year, but this seems to be the first mainstream DC use of Sandman characters for quite a while. And speaking of hell, what the hell were Jai Nitz and Scot Eaton thinking with Doctor Endless? How did they not have an editor either immediately tell them that their character was something that even the world’s worst Sandman fanfic writers would dismiss as on the nose, or at least that they’d have to check with Gaiman first?

  4. Andrew

    “And what’s that between Green Lantern and Batman, and below Flash and Cyborg? It looks like a white mass with some hatching on it, but it also looks like a bird. It’s kind of weird. Am I missing something?”

    Not sure if you’re joking. It’s the bottom of the palm?

    This is a really clever, funny cover – one of the more memorable modern age covers in years.

    1. Greg Burgas

      Andrew: No, I’m not joking. But holy crap, you’re right – that’s a hand doing the Texas “Hook ’em horns” sign! Why would that be on a DC cover?!?!?!?

      Thanks for pointing that out. That is pretty clever, even though I completely missed it. I never said I was bright! πŸ™‚

  5. Alaric

    So, ignoring the ending, it sounds like the whole issue can basically be summarized as: Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah !!!BATMAN’S RIDING A DINOSAUR!!!!! blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

  6. This is the kind of funny America needs, dammit!

    It’s pretty amazing to me how much Snyder’s Bat runs seem to be retreads of GMozz’s stuff. There was the Court of Owls stuff right after the Black Glove stuff, the Joker Death of the Family stuff seemed to crib a lot from the Black Glove era Joker stuff, and now this sounds to me like a retread of that Return of Bruce Wayne stuff. Wasn’t Barbatos the thing in that, which was taken from that Milligan Dark Knight, Dark City arc? How do people not see that Snyder is reusing and dumbing down GMozz’s stuff?

    1. Greg Burgas

      Well, all superhero stuff is recycled anyway, so I guess nobody cares. And yes, Barbatos is the same name as the one in Dark Knight, Dark City (although did they name it then?) that Morrison used. All of Batman’s history is supposed to be intact, sort of, so why he didn’t know that or why Daniel introduced himself when they’ve met is beyond me.

  7. And Braal is where Cosmic Boy from the Legion of Super-Heroes is from. Not sure if they referenced that directly here. I knew it was a LOSH ref, but couldn’t remember which world/character. And they work with magnets, so there’s foreshadowing here! (As well as portentousness!)

    Hopefully the hero of the whole shmegilla will therefore be the most prominent resident of the planet Bismoll, who is of course Matter-Eater Lad! Fuck yeah Matter-Eater Lad!!!!

  8. Jeff Nettleton

    Looking at the cover and Superman’s rather pronounced package. This is why he wore the shorts on the outside, guys! No need for the biggest hero of them all frightening the population with his Kryptonian Rocket, know what I mean?

    I’m so glad to see I’m not missing anything at DC (or Marvel, for that matter)

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