Well, Scott Snyder promised us a big, bonkers summer blockbuster of a comic and that seems to be exactly what we're getting with Dark Nights: Metal. It begins with the Justice League forced to fight for the entertainment of Mongul and his hordes...
... continues with the revelation of the identity of the new Lady Blackhawk following the appearance of a mountain in the heart of Gotham City...
... and ends with the unexpected appearance of… nah, that one I shan't spoil, as it's a last-page surprise, and a biggie. I can, though, reveal that we get a photographic cameo by Will Payton aka the fifth Starman, and a live action appearance by Red Tornado.
It seems that since DC Rebirth, Reddy is unknown to the rest of the heroes. Likewise, they don't know Kendra, the Blackhawks, the Challengers of the Unknown or Carter Hall. An interesting surprise is the JLA’s familiarity with the homeworld of 31st-century hero Cosmic Boy, Braal, but as this story is all about metal and cosmic connections, it fits nicely.
We get some fascinating infodumps, including this nuttiness… the Dark Multiverse has to exist because, well, a 2D map can be flipped over… er, OK.
The opening arena fight between the League and creations of a reluctant Toyman - the young version (BoyToyman?) - is loads of fun… Snyder writes a terrifically triumphalist Mongul, and a wonderful League. The team dynamics are great fun, although they seem to have forgotten everything Gardner Fox ever taught them.
Come on guys, if you have opponents cued to your abilities, you simply swap dancing partners. Mind, the solution Batman comes up with is rather excellent.
The only off-moment is this:
I realise we have to move with the times, but there's no mainstream Barry Allen that would make a pun based on a word’s similarity to a bit of Anglo-Saxon cursing. Tut.
That's a tiny thing, an offside aside in what turns out to be a pre-credits sequence for a deep dive into DC continuity, nodding to everything from Final Crisis to Aquaman’s harpoon-arm era (*See the 90s, suggests the dry editors’ note).
The art suits the script nicely, which is no surprise as penciller Greg Capullo, inker Jonathan Glapion and colourist FCO Plascencia worked with Snyder on a long run of Batman issues; this is a creative team with chemistry. The heroes look good, the monsters, bad and the settings, wild and woolly. The only thing in the book that looks awful is the tragic Blackhawks redesign, but I think that predates the current creatives.
Are those stacked utility pockets meant to suggest feathers? Whatever, just bring back the sleek, black leather classic uniform.
I like Capullo’s willingness to play with composition, for example using Batman’s head to frame a League conflab. Plus, he nails the funny moments Snyder builds in.
And thanks, too, to Steve Wands for a typically sharp lettering job.
At 28pp of story this is almost 50% bigger than your average DC comic, but it feels larger still. If you've been swithering as to whether or not to buy Dark Nights: Metal - it's six issues seeding a bunch of side stories and specials - I say risk the money, you almost certainly won't be sorry.