Dark Nights: Death Metal – The Last Stories Of The DC Universe Review

As the event has progressed we’ve seen more of how Dark Nights: Death Metal has been following a similar path that Final Crisis did a decade ago. While there aren’t a massive number of tie-ins, the one-shots and other tie-in comics we have gotten have shown to play a major role of telling the story we are seeing unfold in the main Dark Nights: Death Metal series. One of the tie-ins that caught my interest right away when it was announced was The Last Stories Of The DC Universe. Especially with how Dark Nights: Death Metal has developed as a Multiverse ending event I’m intrigued in how our heroes will spend their final moments before the final battle with Batman Who Laugh. Let’s find that out now with Dark Nights: Death Metal – The Last Stories Of The DC Universe.

Writers: Joshua Williamson (Together), James Tynion IV (Together), Scott Snyder (Together), Jeff Lemire (Last Knights), Mariko Tamaki (The Question), Gail Simone (Dust Of A Distant Storm), Christopher Sebela (Whale Fall), Cecil Castellucci (We Fight For Love), and Mark Waid (Man Of Tomorrow)

Artists: Travis Moore (Together), Rafael Albuquerque (Last Knights), Daniel Sampere (The Question), Meghan Hetrick (Dust Of A Distant Storm), Christopher Mooneyham (Whale Fall), Mirka Andolfo (We Fight For Love), and Francis Manipul (Man Of Tomorrow)

Colorists: Tamra Bonvillain (Together), Ivan Plascencia  (Last Knights), Adriano Lucas  (The Question), Marissa Louise (Dust Of A Distant Storm), Enrica Eren Angiolini (Whale Fall), and Andrew Dalhouse (We Fight For Love)

Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: On a beach in The Hellscape (which was formerly Themyscira) Beast Boy finds Donna Troy, who is reflecting on how the beach was the same place Steve Trevor showed up for the first time and how when she was a girl she wished something would was up on shore that would also change her life. Donna admits that she isn’t sure if they’ll beat Batman Who Laughs. She then says how she remembers how they formed the Teen Titans to not save the world but to be with heroes who were their own age and become friends.

Beast Boy then leads Donna to a part of Hellscape where all of the Titans from every generation have gathered. Donna happily talks to all the different Titans teams as everyone interacts with one another as well.

Donna then runs into Nightwing and Tempest. When Donna brings up Nightwing, Cyborg, and Starfire’s recent Justice League adventure Nightwing says they made sure to change back into their normal costumes when they got to Hellscape. Nightwing then mentions that Batman called a Bat-Family meeting that he needs to go to.

As Donna and Tempest begin to talk all the Titans suddenly all look in the same direction. Donna looks to see what caught everyone’s attention and then sees Wally West arriving on Hellscape.

Over at what is left Coast City Hal Jordan visits his father’s grave and then transforms into Green Lantern to fly over to his old base. Hal reflects on what his dad taught him while walking around on the base.

Hal then goes over to the Valley of the Rainbow Rings. There he is approached by Sinestro. Sinestro reveals he is not there for a fight but instead he was hoping to face the end like he started. Hal tells Sinestro off for all he did. Hearing this Sinestro decides to walk away.

After taking a moment to think about it Hal transfers some power to a Green Lantern ring and gives it to Sinestro. Sinestro powers up and transforms back into a Green Lantern. Hal and Sinestro then fly off together.

Elsewhere, after remembering her fight with Batman Who Laughs, Wonder Woman talks with her mom about how prepared she feels. Queen Hippolyta tries to affirm how confident she should feel and take the time to prepare as best as possible.

Wonder Woman then goes to meet with Riddler and quickly walks passed him after deciding not to actually answer his riddle.

Wonder Woman then enters the pit where once alone she breaks down as she does not feel ready for what is to come. Suddenly a Donna Troy from an unknown universe appears and explains what happened in her world to help Wonder Woman understand that the pain she feels is normal as it pushes them to obtain victory.

After hearing this Wonder Woman joins her Amazonian sisters and tells them that she is ready for the final battle.

Dark Nights Death Metal The Last Stories Of The DC Universe
Green Arrow and Black Canary meet their daughter for the first time, Laurel Lance-Queen aka Black Arrow, in Dark Nights Death Metal The Last Stories Of The DC Universe. Click for full page view.

On another part of Themyscira, Green Arrow and Black Canary spend quality time joking around with each other and talking about their relationship. They then talk about Wonder Woman’s role in the current crisis and other things. Eventually they get to an area where Black Canary finds a vile of something and decides to drink it.

As she does that Joker Sharks attack them. Black Canary is able to quickly defeat them with one of her Canary Cry’s.

Green Arrow then gets down on one knee like he is going to propose but it turns out to be a fake out as he instead gives a Green Lantern style oath for them to have.

As they hug Black Arrow appears and reveals she is Laurel Lance-Queen, the daughter of her universe’s Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance. Green Arrow and Black Canary happily bond with their kid from another universe. As Black Canary tells Laurel the oath that Oliver came up with earlier Green Arrow pulls out the ring he intended to give to Dinah earlier.

Elsewhere, Aquaman decides to leave a note behind on the beach the other heroes are on. Afterwards, understanding what is at stake and the losses they may suffer, he decides to take what may be his last swim to say goodbye to the ocean creatures he has called upon. Aquaman eventually makes it to Mera’s location as he decides to spend time with her and their daughter Andy.

At a campsite Batgirl finds Batman, who is reflecting on what they are fighting for, and tells him he should rest up before the final fight. Batman compliments Batgirl on being a good leader. Batgirl mentions that she feels like her implant is at an end. Batman says that an end is always just a beginning for her. He then asks her to get the others for a meeting.

Batgirl goes and finds Robin (who she calls Tim even though he is wearing Damian’s Robin costume) playing cards and Red Hood getting some weapons.

She then eventually goes to get Nightwing, who is helping cook food. Before they go to the meeting Nightwing tries to talk openly about his feelings for her but Batgirl says they cannot be doing this right now.

At the meeting, Batman says he is just going straight to the end of his speech and asks everyone what they are bringing to the final fight. After seeing what those items are Batman says they are all ready.

After the meeting Nightwing tries to again get Batgirl to talk about their relationship but she doesn’t want too. Tired of their back-and-forth Batman asks them both what they want at the end. Nightwing asks Batgirl to marry him. Batgirl admits she wants the same so Batman unofficially marries them.

Once they are alone Nightwing and Batgirl agree to be married but if they survive the final battle that their marriage will be annulled and void. Nightwing says that even after that he will try to win her back as he has known her to be his other half since they met. Nightwing and Batgirl then kiss while Batman is on a nearby cliff watching the sunrise.

Over at the Fortress of Solitude Superman, after gathering the necessary material, creates a chronal device that allows him to go back in time one hour.

After traveling back in time Superman uses that one hour to go around the world saving all the lives he can, helping those in need and talking with others. He also says a final goodbye to Supergirl.

Eventually Superman meets up with Lois Lane and Superboy (Jonathan Kent). Rather than talking Superman decides they should spend time together flying around as a family since they still have time.

Back on the Hellscape beach Donna approaches Wally. Wally tries to apologize but is stopped when Donna gives him a big hug and tells him he doesn’t have to say a thing. Donna then leads Wally to join all the other Titans.

As all the Titans bond Donna decides to make a big speech to everyone. Donna talks about how the Teen Titans always fought the same challenges the Justice League fought together. She goes on to say that no matter the horrors and challenges they each face at the end of the day when someone fights a Titan they fight all the Titans.

After complimenting her speech Beast Boy asks Donna to tell everyone about the time the Titans fought a giant pink foot. Hearing this everyone starts to laugh. This helps lighten the mood for everyone to have more fun talking with one another.

Batman suddenly appears and uses his Black Lantern Ring to bring back Roy Harper so he can join the other Titans. Roy talks with Donna and Tempest, saying he wouldn’t miss their final fight. Roy notices Wally standing nearby and tips his cap to him.

As all the Titans and hero families have their final conversations a storm appears as the final Earths appear in the sky.

Donna then leads the charge to the final battle with all of the Titans running right behind her. As they run Donna says “The battle ahead will be hard but whatever happens we’re never alone.” End of issue.

The Good: Was Dark Nights: Death Metal – The Last Stories Of The DC Universe one-shot a big fanservice comic book? Yes, yes it is. And that is honestly what I wanted this comic book to be given not only the title but also everything we have seen all of our heroes go through in Dark Nights: Death Metal.

One of the things that stuck out while reading through all the stories that were in Dark Nights: Death Metal – The Last Stories Of The DC Universe was how this felt like a goodbye to this version of all these characters from the New 52 and DC Rebirth. No matter what your feelings are for the directions DC Comics took with all their characters during the New 52 and DC Rebirth eras the fact is there is a connection with them. There is this long history with this version of the DC Universe that has existed for the last decade.

Dark Nights Death Metal The Last Stories Of The DC Universe
The Titans and Teen Titans from every generation gather in in Dark Nights Death Metal The Last Stories Of The DC Universe. Click for full page view.

That is where Dark Nights: Death Metal – The Last Stories Of The DC Universe is at its best as all the creators who worked on this one-shot embrace that history. They understand that all of these characters have had many ups and downs over the last decade. Each story takes that into account to give greater meaning to all the interactions we get during this comic book.

Tying all the stories in Dark Nights: Death Metal – The Last Stories Of The DC Universe with the Teen Titans to begin and end this comic book was an interesting choice. Out of all the different iconic franchises that DC Comics has the one that has never really connected during the New 52 and DC Rebirth eras is the Teen Titans Family titles. The comics always felt at a loss in terms of what direction to take with the different generations of heroes.

To Joshua Williamson, James Tynion IV, and Scott Snyder credit they are able to capture that fact and make it into a key part of why the Teen Titans start and end this comic book. Taking that into account, Williamson, Tynion, and Snyder highlight how no matter what the Titans are a family. Getting to see that wide range of different teams that have formed under the Titans banner shows that there is a deep connection that makes them all friends. Even if this is the first time many of them met there was an air of friendship that permeated both stories.

Having Donna Troy be the one that took a center stage for the Titans stories was a smart choice. She has been through as much as anyone on the Titans with all the confusion around her origin and character history. All those experiences makes her someone that can best understanding of what everyone needed to her. Her speech spoke to what the Titans stand for and how she has also grown as a leader with not only her generation but also those that come after hers.

And at the end it was good to see that Wally West be brought back into the fold with this Titans story. Wally has been through so much since he returned at the beginning of DC Rebirth. Williamson, Tynion, and Snyder did a good job using Donna and the returning Roy as a way to give Wally a sense of closure for some of the actions he has taken. There is definitely a lot of work ahead as Wally’s character still needs to recover but this is a strong first step for that to happen.

All of the other stories in Dark Nights: Death Metal – The Last Stories Of The DC Universe had there moments to shine. The other big one that surprisingly stood out was Aquaman’s story by Christopher Sebela and Christopher Mooneyham. This was the only story in the bunch were the main character spoke in the past tense as the story unfolded through a letter Aquaman wrote to his daughter. That alone would make this story stand out. But given how we are in the middle of a Crisis-type event, this Aquaman story stood out as being a goodbye to the character. It’s just a sense I get from how it was structured but I would not be surprised if the big death for the Crisis in Dark Nights: Death Metal is not a Flash this time around but Aquaman.

Gail Simone and Meghan Hetrick also told a wonderful story that sums up Green Arrow and Black Canary’s relationship well. It was fun seeing how they played into the previous marriage they had to possibly set that up and turn it into their running joke about Hal. Adding in their daughter from an alternate universe was a nice surprise that does a good job giving them a positive outlook on their future. Even if Laurel was from another universe both Oliver and Dinah immediately jumped into parent mode with how they talked to her. It was all a nice change of pace from the other stories in this issue that had a more serious tone to them.

Speaking of which, it was interesting to see that Superman’s story for this issue highlighted what the Man of Steel means to the world. Mark Waid and Francis Manipul taking Superman an hour into the past worked well into portraying the character that is a symbol of hope for so many. Having him spend the hour going around saving and helping people in various ways showcased what makes him special. It wasn’t all about Superman’s powers but also the empathy he has for others that is just as powerful. That empathy speaks to his upbringing and how having people like Lois, Jon, Kara, and others in his life have helped him connect strongly with people.

Dark Nights Death Metal The Last Stories Of The DC Universe
Barbara Gordon and Dick Grayson get married by Batman in Dark Nights Death Metal The Last Stories Of The DC Universe. Click for full page view.

Obviously with Batman, Nightwing, and Batgirl being three of my favorite comic book characters I highly enjoyed the Bat-Family story. Cecil Castellucci and Mirka Andolfo played in well into the history between Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon. There back-and-forth throughout this story was a nice summary of their history together. Having Batman step in to ask them that if when they picture if they see themselves with the other there was a good way of getting them to admit their feelings was well done. It was a good way to give them a moment and leave the door open for Dick and Barbara’s relationship to be explored in the future.

Batman’s role in the story was also well-handled as we do see a running them with how Bruce feels about the end. Having him keep conversations short and to the point worked well with his character. It also help make what he did say, like when he reassured Barbara that even if her implant did fail she would still be strong, was meaningful. It’s also just who Bruce is and there should not be an expectation he will give a long speech like we see Donna give to end this issue.

The Bad: The only minor gripe I have with is the odd error around which Robin is in the Bat-Family story. What made this confusing was the fact that Damian and Tim where wearing the same hooded Robin costume that is normally Damian’s. This was made who was in the Bat-Family meeting at end confusing, as you can see from these panels. Especially since in the Titans story we see Tim wearing a distinctly different Robin costume from that of Damian’s.

Overall: Dark Nights: Death Metal The Last Stories Of The DC Universe gives fans all the moments from iconic characters they can hope for. All the creators who worked on this one-shot took great care in creating stories that built on the histories of every character we see. The closure for everyone provides a strong set-up for the final battle that we will see play out in the final issues of Dark Nights: Death Metal.

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