[Comic] Dark Nights: Metal: Deluxe Edition by Scott Snyder : Review

The Dark Multiverse is coming, and nothing will ever be the same! One of the biggest events in DC history is here in the shocking, action-packed epic Dark Nights: Metal from critically acclaimed author Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, reuniting after their smash-hit Batman series.

Beyond our universe there is the Multiverse…and beneath the Multiverse is a nightmare realm where every fear that has ever been felt on our Earth becomes reality. Now an evil force as old as time wants to drag us down into the shadows, into the realm of never-ending terror.

But when the door between worlds opens, it’s not just any nightmares that come spilling out. They call themselves the Dark Knights. Each one is a twisted version of Batman from a world where one of his worst fears has come true.

With the invasion underway and Batman trapped in the Dark Multiverse, the Justice League must undergo an impossible quest to find the mysterious metals capable of repelling the Dark Knights and their master, the fearsome Barbatos. If they fail, everything they’ve ever known will be plunged into eternal darkness. But the true horror is…what if they’re already too late?

Collects Dark Nights: Metal #1-6.

Dark Nights Metal Deluxe Edition screams intensity from the moment one picks it up and views the cover art. Drawn in an art style reminiscent of classic metal album covers, the beloved Trinity flies directly forward, clad in metal armor, with Batman, torch in hand, riding a Joker Dragon. (Yes, a Joker. Dragon.) I personally love the epic fantasy adventure flavor of this cover; a dragon, armor, heroes boldly soaring into battle, no doubt to once again brave some dire peril and save the universe from total darkness and destruction.

This DC event is loud and heavy and truly rocked my socks off. I have never read anything quite like this before, and yet it gave me a story familiar and oddly comforting. It is a classic and timeless story, but the utter untamed creativity of its telling refreshed me. One of its writers, Scott Snyder, tells us his personal thoughts on this in the preamble, “In the end, METAL is a lot of things — it’s about those moments when you find yourself face-to-face with the worst versions of yourself, moments when all looks like doom — but at its heart it is a love letter to comic book storytelling at its most lunatic, and a tribute to the kinds of stories, events, that got me through hard times as a kid and as an adult. It’s about using friendship as a foundation to go further than you thought you could go…[W]e tried something different with it, something ours…”. Truly, I am a sucker for this stuff. I never tire of a tried-and-true hero adventure story.

However, before you run off and buy this beautiful thing, I must note that this tale requires some decent knowledge of the DC Universe. While it is possible to read this blind and  still enjoy it, many aspects may prove confusing. This event has some preparatory comics such as Dark Days: The Road to Metal, which I did not get to read in its entirety, so I do not believe those are absolutely necessary, but no doubt helpful. The decent knowledge of the DC Universe I am referring to is: knowing what the Speed Force is, knowing that Batman has a contingency plan to kill any member of the Justice League (well, now you know), knowing the significance of the word “crowbar”, simply knowing Hawkman’s backstory, etc. Some of this knowledge is merely a treat to add to your reading experience, and some of it is quite essential. Also, there are many, many references to past DC events and rare characters, and even a classic Vertigo character (I particularly loved this character’s role in the story). So, if you are new to the epic DC Universe and need a place to begin, I would highly recommend the current Rebirth relaunch; simply pick your favorite character, and start there.

I must encourage the reader to do something that seems self-evident, but a gentle reminder is nevertheless helpful: pay attention. You’ll find nods to metal music and riffs on the genre, both in dialogue and panels throughout. Watch carefully, and you’ll be rewarded with a smirk.

As I mentioned before, the art style honors its subject matter: metal. Most of the comic utilizes gritty, detailed pen work (line shading, crosshatching etc.). Many panels of this work could be slapped on an album cover and be at home. (I was particularly impressed with the absurd level of gruesome detail in the dark army and the main Big Bad). Backgrounds are meticulously drawn; behind furious action sequences we see mountains crumble, smoke and fire enveloping the world, lightning splitting the earth, and oh yes we know the gravest peril is afoot and doom is upon us. As impressed as I am with this art style, what delights me the most is that it is dropped and replaced with cleaner lines, and bright yet soft colors at appropriate moments in the story. The brilliant contrast transforms the story and the experience as a reader.

Tension and twists pervade the story from beginning to end. We ride the lightning all the way through, in a dark with so many unknowns. We explore truths, uncover mysteries, discover friends, and discover ourselves. We muster our hope and we lose it when it all fades to black, and then find hope again. We have no idea how our story will end, or who will be with us, or if we survive, or what is to come. This volume ends neat, but it does promise more.  

If you have a love affair with the DC Universe, this is a must read, if nothing more than to see your beloved heroes being the badasses they have always been in epic metal armor. I would also recommend this if you have an affinity with fantasy literature and classic hero-stories. What’s more, this story has exceptional re-readability, for there are plenty of gems to dig out with each read. If all of this fits for you, I’d say this volume gives you your money’s worth.

I received a free copy of this in exchange for an honest review.


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