Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have live up to what they have set out to do in creating a Crisis-level story with Dark Nights: Death Metal. From the beginning this story has had the Multiverse-level breaking stakes you expect from all the big players involved in the story thus far. Things have gotten even crazier as the Batman Who Laughs merged with Doctor Manhattan to become The Darkest Night. These events have forced Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, Flash and others to face insurmountable odds in order to save the entire Multiverse. Will they finally turn things around? Let’s find out with Dark Nights: Death Metal #4.
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Inker: Jonathan Glapion
Colorist: FCO Plascencia
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: On Earth, as Starfire, Green Lantern, Blue Beetle, Shazam, and other heroes are fighting various villains.
Sgt. Rock’s head breaks the fourth wall to talk directly to the reader, welcoming them back to what is going on. Ambush Bug picks up Sgt. Rock, who continues to talk about the events that have gone on since we last saw Earth with what the Green Lantern Corps, Flash Family, and Trinity have been busy doing.
Over in the Crisis On Infinite Earths continuity Batman calls out to Wonder Woman and Superman to turn on their Alfred Boxes in hopes they can hear him. Batman begins to talk about how they have been experiencing Crisis where they’ve lost. A being calling himself Mobius appears and tells Batman he is correct about his theory that they are experiencing versions where they lost in various Crises.
In the Final Crisis continuity Superman is pinned down by Kingdom Come Superman, Justice Lord Superman, and Red Sun Superman while Darkseid, who has Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, Supergirl, and Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) acting as his throne, lords over him. Superman tries to convince Darkseid that they can still defeat Perpetua. Darkseid proclaims that he will secure this reality by throwing Superman into a special fire pit that will transform him into his final son.
Over in the Infinite Crisis continuity Wonder Woman wakes up to realize that Superboy-Prime has strapped her to the Cosmic Tuning Tower. Wonder Woman tries to reason with Superboy-Prime to help save the Multiverse. Superboy-Prime does not want to hear any of it as he talks about how he has seen how the heroes universes have been warped and are no longer the symphony of hope as the version he sees heroes should be (we are shown Superboy-Prime watching a DC Universe similar to the 1960s).
Wonder Woman says that Batman Who Laughs will not keep any of his promises that got Superboy-Prime to his side. Superboy-Prime reveals that he was the one that went to Batman Who Laughs after the Source Wall fell and promised to turn Wonder Woman over as long as he got the world where true heroes in his views was allowed to exist.
Throughout The Land Of Gotham, Barry Allen, Wally West, and Jay Garrick all as the Flash continue to outrun the Darkest Night. Sensing that they are running out of Speed Force energy Jay and Barry tell Wally to contact the Bat Team so that they can direct the Crisis Energy to the Mobius Chair. Wally tries to contact Jarro.
Elsewhere, Swamp Thing tries to hold Robin King back to give Harley Quinn and Jarro the chance to escape. Harley Quinn asks Robin King to let Jonah Hex go. Robin King instead uses a knife forged by Neron, Lord of Hell, to kill Jonah Hex and sends him to hell.
Harley Quinn gets pissed and charges at Robin King but is stopped by Jarro before she dies herself. Robin King says it’s a shame Harley Quinn was stopped because he was going to giver her hammer back. He then goes on to talk about what the Batman Who Laughs told him about the Dark Multiverse. Robin King mentions that through the information he has on the Dark Multiverse he theorizes the reason there doesn’t exist a Harley Who Laughs is because she is way more evil than Joker.
Swamp Thing uses his powers to get some distance from Robin King, giving him, Harley Quinn, and Jarro a chance to run away.
Back in the Infinite Crisis continuity Wonder Woman continues to try reason with Superboy-Prime. Superboy-Prime does not want to hear anything from Wonder Woman since she gave Batman Who Laughs the opening to take Wally out, who was the only threat to his power grab. Superboy-Prime goes on to say that the Alfred Boxes will soon all be destroyed and he will direct all the Crisis Energy to Batman Who Laughs which he believes will save the pure hero world he believes is right.
In the Crisis On Infinite Earths continuity Mobius starts crushing the Alfred Box while Batman is getting torn into pieces.
In the Final Crisis continuity Superman suffers in the fire-pits while Darkseid destroys the Alfred Box.
Back in the Infinite Crisis continuity just as Superboy-Prime is about to destroy the Alfred Box, Wonder Woman admits that he is right. Wonder Woman goes on to say the world isn’t like it used to be but that is because the only constant in life is change. She goes on to say to be alive means that things are always changing as they have to accept and embrace that in order to be true to themselves. She goes on to say that thanks to the Multiverse there is room for all sorts of worlds, including the one Superboy-Prime looks up to.
All of this talking gives Wonder Woman the chance to break free from the Cosmic Tuning Tower and starts fighting Superboy-Prime.
As Batman falls to pieces in the Crisis On Infinite Earths continuity and Superman rises from the fire pits as Darkseid’s last son both Mobius and Darkseid tell Superboy-Prime to start the Crisis Energy transfer.
At the same time Wally sits on the Mobius chair prepared for what will happen next along with Barry and Jay,
In the Infinite Crisis continuity, while fighting, Wonder Woman pleads with Superboy-Prime to redirect the Crisis Energy to Wally. Superboy-Prime says that all Wonder Woman is doing is trying one last shot in the dark. Wonder Woman states that Superman has always been a shot in the dark. Superboy-Prime powers up one final blow.
Suddenly the Final Crisis and Crisis On Infinite Earths continuities shatter as we see Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, and Superboy-Prime together. Wonder Woman contacts Jarro to give him an update. Superboy-Prime then activates the Alfred Box to direct all of the Crisis Energy to Wally.
Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, and Superboy-Prime then crash in The Land Of Gotham. Wally, who is back to his normal form, reveals that the plan did not work. Harley Quinn wonders why their plan didn’t work.
The Darkest Night appears and says it is because of him as he now holds everything he needs to remake the multiverse in his image. He then welcomes the heroes to The Last 52. End of issue.
The Good: Dark Nights: Death Metal #4 delivers on what you expect from a major Crisis-level event. The stakes only get higher with every page that you progress into the issue. But like Final Crisis and other Crisis’ events in the past the massive scope is showing how straining this type of story is.
As with the previous issues Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo show how they are absolute masters of pacing with their work on Dark Nights: Death Metal #4. Every setting we are shown is given the appropriate amount of time for the reader to get invested in what each character is doing. That investment is enhanced by how well timed the switch between scenes are. Those transitions are timed so well that you don’t feel that any starring character is getting short changed.
That all helps with how Dark Nights: Death Metal #4 is able to keep the story moving forward as we find all our heroes trying to do a successful hail mary play. Starting out by showing us both Batman and Superman in can’t win predicaments in both the Crisis On Infinite Earths and Final Crisis continuities was a great way to set that tone. You could see how desperate both Batman and Superman are even though they know trying to reason with Mobius and Darkseid was a useless effort. Them just attempting to convince the two villains just showed how desperate the whole situation in Dark Nights: Death Metal has become.
Batman and Superman’s position made the extended time we get in the Infinite Crisis continuity with Wonder Woman and Superboy-Prime stand out even more. Snyder does a fantastic job positioning Wonder Woman and Superboy-Prime on two different sides of an argument. He dedicates enough time to both sides so you get were they are both coming from as they speak passionately of what the other should do.
This is a particularly impressive feat when it comes to Superboy-Prime. The character has always fallen in love him or hate him class whenever he appears. I’ve normally fallen in the hate him category as Superboy-Prime has been to one-note in the way he has been portrayed. Snyder is able to change that view of Superboy-Prime by using the fact that at his core this character is a fanboy. Not only that but Snyder is able to use Superboy-Prime as a proxy for a lot of fan complaints about how things were better in the old days.
Going with that direction as motivation for Superboy-Prime allowed a better connection with the character and enhance the argument that Wonder Woman was making on her end. There is greater weight given to Wonder Woman’s words because she is doing something that no one else did when battling Superboy-Prime. That is to try to show an understanding of who he is and open his eyes that change is something that Superboy-Prime needs to accept as part of life. By denying change all Superboy-Prime has ensured is that he does go through changes that make him a warped character. Having Wonder Woman’s words be the most powerful weapon to become the ray of hope that turn things around was all a nice touch. It gave a full arc to both Wonder Woman and Superboy-Prime in one go.
Getting this one sign of hope only for it to be taken away by Batman Who Laughs while he is in full Darkest Night mode was an excellent way to end Dark Nights: Death Meal #4. It puts into question that with this hail mary being a failure if our heroes can actually find hope to defeat Darkest Night. Having the final page show us Darkest Night already creating his Last 52 Universe was a nice touch. Giving this final universe the name of Last 52 makes it clear that Dark Nights: Death Metal is the true conclusion of the last decade of DCU stories.
Greg Capullo once again knocks it out of the park with his artwork throughout Dark Nights: Death Metal #4. The art has a big even feel that elevates all of Snyder’s dialogue. No matter which continuity we are shown or how many characters are on screen Capullo gets over the large scope of this Crisis-level event. The way Batman shattered in the Crisis On Infinite Earths continuity in particularly stood out. Seeing Batman fall to pieces got over how desperate everyone was. That, along with other character scenes, made the final moments of Dark Nights: Death Metal #4 stronger because we saw how much everyone struggled.
The Bad: Dark Nights: Death Metal #4 falls into the same problem that Final Crisis had before it in the fact there is so much that happened in between this issue and the third issue that its easy to get lost. If you did not read Trinity Crisis, Speed Metal, Robin King, and Multiverse’s End there will be a lot of details of how the characters got to where they are at in the start of Death Metal #4 that will be missing. Snyder does try to do a quick recap with the opening pages of Death Metal #4 but that just adds to the confusion. There is just no going around how those who are picking up Dark Nights: Death Metal must also pick up all the tie-in one-shots to understand what is going on.
Because of that the opening pages with Sgt. Rock breaking the fourth wall did not hit the fun note it was supposed to. Instead, this recap by Sgt. Rock was just a reminder how much more invest in Dark Nights: Death Metal. All it serves is a reminder that Dark Nights: Death Metal is more than just the issue count on the cover and it is required to spend more money on these side one-shots.
The sub-plot that is most impact by going down this route with how Dark Nights: Death Metal is structured is the scenes with Robin King, Harley Quinn, Swamp Thing, and Jarro. Out of all the scenes this one felt like the one that was just filling in the page count. This scene could’ve easily been removed and it would not miss a beat with where we find Harley Quinn and company at the end of the issue. Which points to how Robin King is not really serving a purpose in this event other than to eat up the page count that could be used to show us what other heroes on Earth are doing to help the Trinity and Flash Family.
Overall: Dark Nights: Death Metal #4 continues to deliver on the massive scope of this Crisis-level event that Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo are telling. The right emotional story beats are hit to make the hail mary that the Trinity attempt have maximum impact for what happens with the Darkest Night appears. Though you will need to read several of the one-shot tie-ins to Dark Nights: Death Metal to understand everything going on in this issue. How many of those one-shots you read will impact how Dark Night: Death Metal #4 will be received.
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