Dark Nights: Death Metal continues to barrel on as we near the end of this big event by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. As we get to the end we are starting to see how all the tie-in comics that Dark Nights: Death Metal are now converging into what is going on with the main story. Having so many tie-ins be important to the main plot has been a mixed bag as it does point to the fact that there are many key plot points that readers are missing if they are only reading the main Dark Nights: Death Metal series. That said, given that Dark Nights: Death Metal is turning out to be a culmination of everything that started back the New 52 and DC Rebirth this may have been unavoidable. Taking all that into account lets see how Dark Nights: Death Metal #5 progress Snyder and Capullo’s event.
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: With all the heroes knocked down Robin King mocks Wonder Woman by explaining how he killed his universe’s Wonder Woman after she made an inspiring speech. The Darkest Knight calls Robin King to his side.
Wonder Woman gets back up and says the fight isn’t over. Darkest Knight says the fight is indeed over and then orders Castle Bat to keep the heroes busy while he goes to kill a God.
Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, Swamp Thing, and Harley Quinn all do their best to fight Castle Bat but aren’t able to do any significant damage to it. Castle Bat suddenly takes out Superman by using a Red Sun particles. Batman urges Wonder Woman to escape while the others hold Castle Bat back.
Before a decision can be made Lex Luthor arrives and immediately transfers Castle Bat’s soul into a snow globe-like object with the power of the Hall of Doom, which Harley Quinn then smashes. Lex Luthor then offers everyone refuge in the Hall of Doom.
Over in the Earth-49 Universe, Darkest Knight confronts Perpetua and declares he is there not to serve her but kill Perpetua instead.
Back on Earth-0 Lex notices that Batman Who Laughs in his Darkest Knight form is close to killing Perpetua and will soon have everything he needs to create his own Nightmare Multiverse. Superman and the others are still hesitant to trust Lex since he released Perpetua.
Lex then explains his proposal on how they need to actually think small to solve their predicament and uses his early childhood as an example of why. Batman stresses that they need Crisis Energy to fight Darkest Knight. Lex and Lobo then reveal that the latter was able to retrieve shards of the Metal X Batman used to defeat Barbatos. Lex goes on to talk about how when Perpetua was originally locked away there were many key truths about their universe’s history that became hidden and that throughout time things like the Mobius Chair have been created to discover these lost truths. Lex then reveals he has designed one of these truth seeking machines and they can use Metal X to guide them to how to build the machine.
Wonder Woman asks if the machine will help them redirect Crisis Energy so they can fight Darkest Knight. Lex says it will not as instead he is planning to use this machine to unknot the Anti-Crisis energy that is keeping them from knowing their universe’s full truth. In the process restoring all their memories so they can create a powerful stream of Anti-Crisis Energy that will allow them to fight Darkest Knight.
Wonder Woman reminds Lex that she tried to use Anti-Crisis Energy to fight Perpetua but the Crisis Energy proved to be more powerful. Lex reveals that the reason Wonder Woman failed that day was because she hesitated while using Anti-Crisis Energy and that if they embrace a future where they know their embracing their futures as a beginning rather than an end.
Wonder Woman then asks Batman and Superman to tell her the truth. Batman admits that he did die in their first battle with Perpetua which is why he is able to use the Black Lantern ring. Superman also admits that his current form is permanent but that like Batman is ready to fight with Wonder Woman.
After hugging both Batman and Superman, Wonder Woman declares that they will unknot the rope to Anti-Crisis Energy and will accept everything that will matter, whether good, bad or indifferent, in order to create a future for all of them. She then says that they need to lure Batman Who Laughs back to Earth-0 and asks Lobo to be a centerpiece in her plan. Wonder Woman then tells everyone to do whatever they need to do to put their minds at peace for what they’ll do next.
Later, Superman assembles Riddler, Parasite, Mr. Freeze, Joker, Granny Goodness, Killer Croc, Cyborg Superman, Penguin, Solomon Grundy, Giganta, Black Manta, Clayface, and Superboy-Prime to help him destroy the Earth.
Elsewhere Wonder Woman gets ready to lead all the Lobos into the Rock of Eternity so they can make to the Forge of Worlds quickly. Lex gives Wonder Woman the Metal X shards and the journal truth machines designs. Lex reveals that the journal is not actually his but Carter Hall’s. Before she leaves Lex tells Wonder Woman that while Superman seeks to pull out the best in them and Batman seeks to curb the worst, Wonder Woman seeks the truth and in this final war the truth is the Metal they live and die for. Wonder Woman thanks Lex and then leads the Lobos into the Rock of Eternity.
Above Earth, with everyone in position Superman leads all of the villains into launching a massive attack to destroy the Earth.
Over at the Earth-49 Universe the Darkest Knight senses what Superman and others are doing and sends his children to stop them.
Back on Earth-0 Superman’s group is successful in completely destroying Earth and making it into a desolate wasteland. Batman then appears along with all of Earth’s heroes to join Superman’s group. Signal sees that the Darkest Knights forces are coming. Everyone gets ready as the Darkest Knights forces appear and the Earths converge on each other. End of issue.
The Good: Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo do not mess around in making sure to build Dark Nights: Death Metal #5 as a lead into the conclusion of this event. Even though there isn’t much action in this issue everything that happens is done a with a purpose. Outside of one page, there was a sense that all the dialogue mattered to position our heroes and villains where they need to be as we reach the end.
As he has done throughout his work since the original Dark Nights event Snyder shows no fear in diving deep into the Metaverse concept. He goes all in on that as we see how he uses the Crisis Energy and Anti-Crisis Energy as a way to explain why the DC Universe has been place with a confusing continuity. All that confusion coming down to various parts of the DCU’s history becomes a hidden truth depending on what is going on is a fascinating concept. It is a strong way to explain how when it comes to comic books, especially those from DC Comics, things will change in terms of what history readers should keep in mind for each character.
That coming back to how so much of the DC Universe history becoming a hidden truth is a great way to circle back to why Wonder Woman is the one taking the lead in Dark Nights: Death Metal. Snyder does a fantastic job in using Lex Luthor as a vehicle to explain what Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman each represent as the DCU’s Trinity. And the fact that Wonder Woman’s character is someone that always seeks the truth she is in fact the best person to be the one to unlock all the truths about the DC Universe so everyone can move forward into the future.
The set-up to that point was also well-done as Snyder continued to make it so that everything was against our heroes. There was no turning back for them as Batman Who Laughs has completely taken over. That complete takeover has made it so the best bet that our heroes have is to embrace whatever final outcome that takes place in Dark Nights: Death Metal is what will dictate their future. It’s a powerful mission statement to make that gets both the characters involved and the reader invested in the fact there is no turning back. Whatever happens, happens and we will have to accept whatever new reality is created after Dark Nights: Death Metal.
This all works well into further building up Batman Who Laughs in his Darkest Knight form being the greatest evil we have seen. Unlike Lex Luthor, Batman Who Laughs does not see him as the hero of his own story. Batman Who Laughs absolutely revels in being the villain, which we see with how he treats Robin King, Perpetua, and DCU’s heroes. Which all drives home how whenever Batman Who Laughs appears on screen in his Darkest Night form you do believe that he can and will accomplish his ultimate goal of creating his Nightmare Multiverse. Even in the back-and-forth fight that he is in with Perpetua you do get the feeling his victory over the God-like being is inevitable.
Positioning Batman Who Laughs in this way made the final few pages with our heroes rallying everyone together such an fantastic way to end things. Wonder Woman stepping up to deliver the inspiring speech to rally the troops was a great full circle moment for her character. The dialogue work so well to show how Wonder Woman has accepted that they all must accept whatever will happen as the full truth of their realities comes together. As the representation of truth it was so fitting for Wonder Woman to be given this spot.
That all lead to the next thing we see being Superman bringing all of the remaining DCU villains together to destroy the Earth in order to attract Batman Who Laughs attention an even more hype moment. This is something you never expected to see and Snyder plays into that surprise of Superman working with the DCU villains as a major moment. It made the final pages where we do see the remaining heroes and villains united as they get ready to take on Batman Who Laughs forces together a logical way for things to end up at this point.
Greg Capullo, along with Jonathan Glapion and FCO Plascencia, once again knocks it out of the park with all of the artwork for Dark Nights: Death Metal #5. As the event has progressed the art has just been more stunning as Capullo and company really get across how this is a Multiverse ending event. Everything from the way characters are drawn to the settings are all drawn and colored in a way to get the most out of the story that is being told in Snyder’s dialogue. That all helps ensure major moments like Wonder Woman’s final speech and the shot of all the DCU heroes and villains getting ready to fight Batman Who Laughs forces hit the way that is expected from a big event.
The Bad: Dark Nights: Death Metal #5 is far from a perfect read. As with previous issues, Dark Nights: Death Metal #5 is hurt by the fact that there is so much required reading to understand what is going that goes beyond this series. If you are not reading the tie-in one-shots and Justice League tie-ins than you will be lost at where we find many characters when they appear in this issue.
You don’t have to look far for why this is so problematic as the opening pages of Dark Nights: Death Metal #5 start with our heroes already defeated by Robin King. This is a completely different place from where we ended Dark Nights: Death Metal #4 with Wonder Woman and the others about to face off against Darkest Night. Opening with them already defeated by Robin King created a whole lot of confusion as to how we got there in between issues if you didn’t read the Robin King and Rise of the New God one-shots. This all gives these last few issues of Dark Nights: Death Metal feel like you are being punished for not reading all the tie-in comics since Snyder doesn’t even try to clue us into what happened between issues or character appearances.
By doing this there are immediate questions about things like where the Flash Family are when we start Dark Nights: Death Metal #5. Because Wally West, Barry Allen, and Jay Garrick were part of Wonder Woman’s team that were facing off against Batman Who Laughs at the end of Dark Nights: Death Metal #4. There disappearance is never explained when we open up Dark Nights: Death Metal #5 and we have our heroes being mocked by Robin King and later forced to fight Castle Bat. Little things like this just exemplify how the reliance of tie-in comics hurt the flow of the Dark Nights: Death Metal story chapter to chapter.
That brings us to Lex Luthor’s involvement into Dark Nights: Death Metal as a whole. The character has been gone from the main series for a while now as he has been busy over in the Justice League tie-ins. Unfortunately Snyder keeps Lex’s whereabouts extremely vague which makes his appearance just come across as a required deus ex machina for the story to move into the final few issues. Which all goes back to how Dark Nights: Death Metal has so much going on that even important characters like Lex are shoved to the side.
On top of that we spend an unnecessary page on Lex’s childhood that really doesn’t come into play except for one throwaway reference later in this issue. That page just came across as a way to pad out the issue and give Lex’s character a sense of importance that was not needed. That page would’ve been much better used to show us what other heroes are doing to get us to the point they suddenly appear at the end of Dark Nights: Death Metal #5.
Another character that similarly suffers from development in this event is Perpetua. For a God-like being at no point does she come across as a major threat. As soon as Darkest Night appears next to her you know that any resistance she puts up in a fight is useless. Perpetua is meant to lose and just wasting time for the inevitable. Which is a big disappointment given how Snyder spent so much of his Justice League run building up Perpetua as a villain with God-like powers. This isn’t the ending that makes all the development of Perpetua’s character feel worth it now that we approach the end of Snyder’s run.
Overall: Dark Nights: Death Metal #5 is all about setting the stage for the final battle that will conclude this event. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo accomplish that with a lot of strong character driven scenes. Everything we see everyone from Wonder Woman to Batman Who Laughs do maximizes how much hype their will be going into the next issue. Hopefully things come together in a tight package and we don’t see a reliance on tie-in comics hinder the last few chapters of Dark Nights: Death Metal
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