Comic Book Review: Dark Nights: Metal #1

It’s Just The Beasts Under Your Bed. In Your Closet, In Your Head

“Listen to me. Be calm. Let it happen. It’s all in the name.”

DC’s Summer blockbuster has finally arrived in the form of Dark Nights: Metal #1. This year’s annual event book was already worthy of notoriety before it even began. The most successful creative team in modern comics reunites in these pages. Writer Scott Snyder, Penciller Greg Capullo, Inker Jonathon Glapion and colorist FCO Plascencia took the comic world by storm with their New 52 Batman series. Though Glapion would be replaced by Danny Miki, the rest of the team remained and would be the only creative team to survive up until Rebirth. 

After bringing that series to a close Capullo and Snyder promised their next collaboration would be something special. Over 1 year later, the two unveil their latest. This being Snyder’s first event series and team-book, expectations for “Metal” are unfairly high. Luckily, the team that solidified Batman as the #1 bestselling comic series do not disappoint. Dark Nights: Metal #1 is a fun and entertaining ride into the outskirts of the Elseworlds’ territory.

The great ones make it look easy.

There’s something tangible in the works of artists who can truly enjoy each other’s company. An instinctual understanding that translates big ideas into simple shapes drawn in graphite. It’s no secret Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo are friends. The two have fun constantly on social media and take an innumerable amount of pictures together. Their chemistry is easily found on every page and panel. Their consistency speaks wonders to how effortless it is for the team.

Dark Nights: Metal #1 is two great artists shaping a story around what they love. The result is masterful. Together they endlessly manifest more and more detail to marvel and delight readers The sign of the horns cover art is more than just funny, it draws you into DC’s world and places you in the middle of a brawl between the Justice League and Mongul’s pets. The fight is short-lived, unfortunately ending on one of the best pages in the issue. Snyder is teasing us with what’s to come, but a subtle reveal as the series unfolds would have been more effective.

And Then What Happened?

Despite being the 1st issue of the series, not a lot happens in Dark Nights: Metal #1. The Justice League begin the story on WarWorld, already fighting its’ leaders, slaves, and pets. When they later return to Earth it’s already suffering at the hands of the Dark Multiverse to which we’re later introduced.

Unfortunately, the book skipped the conclusion of their death-defying fight. Arguably, the two most important happenings don’t even happen in this debut. Both The Forge #1 and The Casting #1 were too expository, leaving the series’ true debut without an inciting incident. The book begins in the middle of a fight that isn’t shown ending. The Justice League then casually enter an Earth, post-disaster.

They don’t try to save civilians, they don’t try to salvage the world crumbled beneath them. Odd choices for this Earth’s mightiest heroes. Despite an abundance of exposition so far there’s just not enough story to go around.

Greg Capullo’s hands must be tired. The pages of Dark Nights are vibrant glimpses into the many worlds of the DC Multiverse. Snyder gives him plenty to explore: from jungles and forests to post-apocalyptic arenas and dinosaurs. Every line has Capullo’s uniquely rounded touch, which can create a similar face or two now and then. But Capullo has always been substance over style.

The imagery itself can be anything from striking to unnerving, and Capullo knows when to expand with immense detail or to hold off with minimalist principles. Jonathon Glapion and FCO Plascencia’s work further captivates with intricate backgrounds and eye-popping colors. Though they didn’t follow him to the title, these artists are Scott Snyder’s true All-Star Batman team.

The Verdict

Two defining characteristics of Summer for kids is the unending fun and knowing that the fun will absolutely end. Scott Snyder has had a blast writing Batman since the days of Dick Grayson and Detective Comics. Every page in Dark Nights: Metal #1 is worthy of a gasp or an awe. Strikingly modern depictions of Heavy Metal imagery of the 70’s and 80’s; the multiple layers of symbolism behind the plot and key story elements. These are just a couple ways Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo draw you into their intricate web. Unfortunately, it leads to an anticipation that will go unsatisfied in Dark Nights: Metal #1.

In its’ first real installment Dark Nights introduces many of the elements the series will supposedly explore. But no major plot development is depicted except for the reveal on the final page. The Justice League ignore a massive disaster on Earth. Instead, they just listen to Kendra Saunders’ warning of an impending danger to the Earth… The irony is almost forgivable were the disaster not covering most of Gotham. But with undeniably awesome action the team deliver a roller coaster unlike any of their previous releases.

Writer Scott Snyder is staying away from his usual techniques and tropes. Carefully, he avoids the metaphor-laden monologues that often encapsulate his often convoluted main themes. Instead here’s a breathtaking world raptured by magic and filled with rock and roll. It’s more of a preview for the main event, but it’s certainly one hell of an invitation.