Review: Dark Nights: Death Metal

 Rock & Roll is evil man. Evil!!!!

A series by, Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion, FCO Plascencia and many others.

We're about halfway through DC's current event, Future State, right now. It has been an… interesting read so far. I've been doing Comic Shout-Out AKA micro-reviews of each issue on Twitter and if I had to summaries it all at this moment, I would give the entire event a mild recommendation. There are some cool and interesting ideas and concepts. Some characters that I feel have a lot of potential and deserve to continue. There are also quite a few problems. Most prominently, almost all of the stories are 'the future has gone to hell'. That gets old, real fast. 

But I digress. Future State is not what I'm reviewing today. No, that's the event that Future State has spun out of. Dark Nights: Death Metal. I already took a look at two different tie-in issues before, Dark Nights: Death Metal: The Last Stories of the DC Universe & Dark Nights: Death Metal Speed Metal but I purposely left the main series untouched. I wanted to wait until it had concluded. The only thing I had heard about the core Death Metal series before reading just now was that, and I paraphrase here, 'it started out the good kind ridiculous but devolved in the bad kind of ridiculous'. 

All right then. With that little bit of potential foreshadowing, let's dive into Dark Nights: Death Metal and see what's all about and, above all, if it's worth a read!

In Dark Nights: Death Metal the world has essentially come to an end. The Justice League failed to stop the Batman Who Laughs masterplan and as a result, the world is now his to command. Earth has fallen apart into different zones, where the Batman Who Laughs henchmen of Batmen keep the designated keepers of the sections of the world in their place. Wonder Woman is one of those keepers, ruling over the ruins of Themyscira which has been turned into a prison. At a meeting of all of the different factions, the one and true Batman shows his face. He attempts to persuade Wonder Woman to join him in his guerrilla fight against the Batman Who Laughs, but she too afraid to fight back and declines. However, when Diana learns the identity of the new prisoner the Batmen have brought her she sees an opportunity to save existence from the Batman Who Laughs and sets out to do so.

After closing Death Metal #7, there were a few thoughts that went through my head. The word ‘overambitious’ is one of them. First off, the entire point behind Dark Nights Death Metal, what it all leads to, is the exact same is another recent event of DC: Doomsday Clock. That story also jumped off from the event of DC Rebirth, the idea that Dr Manhattan had altered the DC Universe. That story also tried to undo the mistakes of the recent past. Create a DC Universe in which the past mattered again. However, with Doomsday Clock suffering many delays, the editorial staff changing and the DCU moving to a different reaction the story got pushed to the side. With the DC Universe once again in need for a reboot when 5G was still in the cards (see: Let's Talk About DC's newest event: from 5G to Future State for more on that), Death Metal was born.

Why am I calling Death Metal overambitious then, if it’s doing the exact same thing? Well, because the in-universe explanation of it all is so much more difficult to grasp then it was in Doomsday Clock. In that storyline, the explanation was actually quite simple. He used his omnipotent powers to change the history of the DCU leading to all kinds of problems. Here, it’s this very convoluted explanation regarding different kinds of ‘crisis energy’ and how they’re created by humans themselves and the dark multiverse and how it is created by evil crisis energy the creation of the universe by the hand how the earth is ‘wrong’ and do you start to see what I mean? I had a difficult time grasping it all, difficulty remembering it especially with how each issue adds in layer after layer on the explanation. I just started not to think about it too hard and that kept it from giving me any headaches.

Even if I find the entire in-universe explanation of overambitious and difficult the grasp, the rest of the story is actually much easier to understand and follow then I was expecting. That whole ‘it gets bad ridiculous near the end’ really doesn’t hold true in my opinion. Doesn’t mean that there aren’t some ridiculous things in there but they remain relatively tame and quite enjoyable to comic book fans like me. Again, if you ignore the reason they give you hear behind all of DC’s Crises and how they are now integrating it all into one big timeline the story is not hard to follow. The progression of events is logical, which helps keep you engaged in the story when the aforementioned explanation starts to become too much. The reasons behind what they need to do might be very convoluted, what they have to do for it is not. That’s the best way I describe it.

Yeah, the series definitely has some ridiculous moments in it. Still can't help but love something like this!

I do still have one problem with the story of Death Metal though. I really felt the moments where they provided a (quick) setup/explanation of the stories told in the tie-ins hindered the story's flow. To put it more bluntly, I feel that some of the stories told in the tie-in issues should have been put in the main series instead. I never got the feeling that there was so much story missing that you couldn’t follow along anymore, the brief explanations sufficed in that sense, but I still got the feeling that I just missed a few things. I guess that’s one those ways companies pull so that you actually buy these tie-in issues. Still, the series is only seven issues, so I feel they easily could have included those stories. Perhaps they will be included in the inevitably upcoming trades?

For a big, massive event there are also not too many characters to keep track off. It allows the story to focus more on the book’s principle cast. The giant number of characters only really come in to play at the big climactic battle and other such instances. The cast might not be too big, but that doesn’t mean there are moments in which I think it would have been better if there were fewer characters. Lex Luthor, for instance, comes in relatively late in the story and has an integral role for the rest of it. His inclusion in the story feels sudden and rough, definitely, one of those moments which feel more like the creators wanted to use him but didn’t really know how. If you look at what he adds, the majority of his role could have been given to a character that was already in the book. Hell, I think Superman himself would have been more likely to come with the revelation that Luthor brings with him. It fits his character more than Luthor.

Superboyman Prime, on the other hand, suffers, from the opposite problem. He gets a decent chunk of story to himself in his debut issue, gets set up with a rather interesting story and is then just completely forgotten. Another victim of tie-ins, no doubt, and once again an exclusion that I feel hurt the main series.

For the most part, those are my thoughts on Dark Nights: Death Metal. The only two points I want to discuss are the standard for my format art and writing. The art is really good. It’s by frequent Scott Snyder collaborator Greg Capullo and it’s just as good as it has ever been. Capullo’s artistic style matches Scott's style of storytelling to a T. The designs of the characters, for instance, look really cool and while a bit ridiculous it matches the tone of the series well. The only art in the series that is clearly not drawn by Capullo is the epilogue. Why am I drawing attention to this little fact? Not because the art in the epilogue is bad or anything like that, but it shows that this epilogue wasn't the original. For someone who kept up with the entire 5G/Future State situation, such an obvious remnant of this situation is very interesting to see. Scott’s writing is, once again, excellent. Not more to say about it than that, except that I really liked the small moments between characters. Those were really good and enjoyable.


Just look at this art. It's both beautiful and really cool!

Conclusion

So, is Dark Nights: Death Metal worth reading? Yes, I think it is. It has it’s problems, sure, but it’s a well-made piece of DC Superhero entertainment. Above all else: it’s an enjoyable read. I had genuine fun with and I feel that many of you will feel the same. I would, though, advise people who haven’t picked up any of the seven issues yet to wait for the inevitable trade. It’ll not only be cheaper than buying each issue individually, but it might just include some of those tie-in issues that I mentioned earlier. The ones that I feel should really have been included in the main story.

Pick it up. It’s a good and enjoyable event that’s worth a read.

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