The stage has been set for Dark Nights: Death Metal to have an epic finale that will create a new future for the DC Universe. But before we get to the finale of Dark Nights: Death Metal Scott Snyder is teaming up with Geoff Johns to tell a story about a character with one of the longest character arcs in the form of Superboy Prime. Given that Johns is the one that put Superboy Prime on the road he has been on since Infinite Crisis it is only right that Snyder teams with him to tell this story. Given that Superboy Prime has joined the Superman Family in fighting against Batman Who Laughs we could be in store for a big turn for the character. Let’s find out what happens with Superboy Prime with Dark Nights: Death Metal The Secret Origin #1.
Writers: Scott Snyder and Geoff Johns
Artists: Jerry Ordway, Francis Manapul, Ryan Benjamin and Richard Friend, and Paul Pelletier and Norm Rapmund
Colorists: Hi-Fi, Ian Herring, Rain Beredo, and Adriano Lucas
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 Earth-Prime, in 1984, Clark Kent is reading Superman comics at a local convenience store. Some kids from Clark’s school show up and start bullying him, calling him out for being named after a cartoon character and rip his Superman comic in half. As they begin to beat him up Laurie Lemmon drives off the bullies.
Later while Clark is bagging up his comics Laurie calls and Clark immediately goes to hang out with her. As he spends the next year going on dates with Laurie, Clark thinks of how she was his whole world until the end.
In 1985, Laurie, dressed in a Lori Lemaris costume, gives Clark a Superboy costume to wear for the Halloween party at the beach.
At Hampton Beach, Laurie notices that Clark has been staring up at the sky all night. Clark mentions that he can hear a voice that seems to be calling out for him. Clark attempts to fly but falls on his face. Laurie tells Clark that was a nice try and helps him get back up.
Laurie and Clark then spend the next few hours talking about their hopes, fears, and future together. Suddenly a shooting star appears and Clark makes a wish. When he does Clark is suddenly able to fly.
As he is flying Clark is surprised to meet Superman and is recruited to help save the Multiverse. Clark joins in as Superboy and helps fight the Anti-Monitor (events from Crisis On Infinite Earths). When the Multiverse collapses at the end of the event Earth-Prime along with Laurie and Clark’s parents is wiped from existence.
Unable to accept this over time Earth-Prime Clark becomes Superboy Prime and in lashing out becomes known to a monster who caused another Crisis.
In the present, Superboy-Prime reflects on all these memories as he stands on his own away from the Superman Family and villains are standing. The Superman Family aren’t sure if Superboy-Prime will join them as Supergirl wants to have faith in Wonder Woman vouched for him but Superboy (Conner Kent) still remembers everything he has done to them.
Hearing this Superboy-Prime sits down in silence. Krypto suddenly approaches him and Superboy-Prime angrily asks what Krypto wants. Krypto’s happy expression eventually cause Superboy-Prime’s anger to dissipate. Superboy-Prime then happily pets Krypto as he begins to talk about the first story he read that Krypto appeared in.
Conner flies right at Superboy-Prime thinking he is going to do something to Krypto. Superboy-Prime lashes out when Conner calls him out over past events.
Before their argument can get more serious the Supermen from Batman Who Laughs’ Last 52 Multiverse appear. Superboy-Prime immediately joins the Superman Family and villains in fighting against the Last 52 Multiverse Supermen.
When Superboy-Prime hits one of the Last 52 Multiverse Supermen he suddenly has a vision of the world that Superman is from. Superboy-Prime suddenly takes off into space.
As he travels through space Superboy-Prime is able to see the Last 52 Multiverse Earths that Batman Who Laughs created all lined up. Superboy-Prime wonders if he can use the fact he can see the Last 52 Multiverse to kill Batman Who Laughs.
Superboy-Prime decides to try and smashes through the Last 52 Multiverse to get to Batman Who Laughs. When he punches Batman Who Laughs, Superboy-Prime once again sees visions from the Multiverse.
As they fight Batman Who Laughs talks to Superboy-Prime about how they aren’t that different. While Superboy-Prime tries to reject this Batman Who Laughs says he can give Superboy-Prime anything he wants. Superboy-Prime says no one can give him what he wants. Superboy-Prime then channels his anger to beat down Batman Who Laughs, releasing Crisis energy in the process.
Superboy-Prime suddenly feels that he has absorbed Batman Who Laughs Crisis energy. This causes him to realize that he can use the Crisis energy to not only kill Batman Who Laughs but remake his world by destroying what is left of the world he is on.
As Superboy-Prime is about to do this Krypto appears. While Superboy-Prime tells Krypto to leave he can’t help but break down in tears as he pets the Superdog.
Batman Who Laughs recovers and tells Superboy-Prime he can give him everything he wanted. Superboy-Prime rejects Batman Who Laughs off.
While Batman Who Laughs continues to tells him to join his side Superboy-Prime sees the world where he becomes a hero everyone looks up to. Superboy-Prime thinks that while it is a dream of his that world would not be the same without his parents or Laurie in it.
Superboy-Prime then tells Krypto to run. When Krypto runs away Superboy-Prime turns around and smashes Batman Who Laughs with a punch that causes a massive explosion of Crisis energy.
The explosion sends Superboy-Prime crashing back down onto Earth-0.
The Superman Family then see the Last 52 Multiverse that Batman Who Laughs created vanishing. The Superman Family are left wondering who could’ve done that.
Krypto finds Superboy-Prime’s corpse on the ground and howls in sadness.
Suddenly we then see Clark reading the events of Dark Nights: Death Metal back on Earth-Prime. Laurie comes into Clark’s room to tell him dinner is ready. Clark is surprised to see Laurie. Laurie wonders what is wrong. Clark says he was just thinking how he doesn’t know how the story he was reading ends. Remembering how they always end with a “To Be Continued” Clark decides o put his comics away.
Laurie then brings Clark’s dog in, who looks exactly like Krypto, much to Clark’s joy.
Clark and Laurie then walk their dog outside. Clark talks with Laurie about the Halloween party they went to and how he tried to fly. Laurie laughs remembering and reminds Clark that it is okay that he is the Clark Kent without powers.
Some kids ball ends up going onto the street. A boy goes after it. As that happens a car is about to hit the kid. Seeing this Clark immediately springs into action and is able to lift the speeding car up before it hits the boy. As he does this Clark thinks how stories are never over and it is good to take a walk outside, telling the reader to do the same. End of issue.
The Good: For the first time since Sinestro Corps War I genuinely cared about where Superboy-Prime’s story would go next. Credit to Scott Snyder, Geoff Johns, and all the talented artists who worked on Dark Nights: Death Metal The Secret Origin for making this happen. From beginning to end this was the comic book that Superboy-Prime needed to conclude his arc that started way back in Infinite Crisis.
What makes Dark Nights: Death Metal The Secret Origin so meaningful is that Snyder and Johns do not avoid all the horrible things that Earth-Prime Clark Kent did as Superboy-Prime. There is no erasing everything Superboy-Prime has done since Infinite Crisis. Whether the character likes it or not those actions will follow him whenever he appears.
Having Superboy-Prime finally embrace the good and bad of his history made the big question of this issue be centered on if this version of Clark could become the hero that he read in the comics on Earth-Prime. As we see with the opening in The Secret Origin, being a Clark Kent with powers and becoming a hero is what he always dreamed of. But while he was able to sort of achieve that in the original Crisis On Infinite Earths it came at the sever cost of his Earth-Prime, and all those he cared about, being wiped out of existence.
What makes this direction that The Secret Origin work so well is that while Snyder and Johns remind us why Superboy-Prime made the turn he did they do not justify his actions. The things that Superboy-Prime has done are things not to be forgiven. And now that everyone remembers all of their DC Universe continuity it cannot be forgotten. Which makes you further understand why when we reach the final battle for the existence of the Multiverse with Batman Who Laughs that we find Superboy-Prime on his own. He has done too much to feel like he can or desires to stand alongside the Superman Family.
This makes the moment that Krypto approaches Superboy-Prime work as well as it did. Krypto has a natural innocence that he sees the good in Superboy-Prime as another version of Clark Kent. Krypto understands in that moment that Superboy-Prime needed someone to care and he did that, showing why dogs are people’s best friends. It made the way Superboy-Prime goes from once again lashing out to being the Clark Kent we saw before Crisis On Infinite Earths a much more powerful moment. It’s in that moment that we begin Superboy-Prime’s turn to become what he has proclaimed to always have been: a hero.
Having that moment made the way that Superboy-Prime resists Batman Who Laughs during their battle come across much better. This time around Superboy-Prime is fighting for the right reasons as he is defending the Multiverse. At the same time, the way that Superboy-Prime lashes out in anger when things don’t go his way or others say things he does not like still exists. Snyder and Johns do a great job showing how this negative aspect does not go away even when he fights alongside the heroes. It all goes to emphasize how we are seeing the completion of Superboy-Prime’s character arc from Infinite Crisis.
Making this an even more appropriate way to conclude Superboy-Prime’s arc was the way that Snyder and Johns worked in how the character can punch through reality. This was a character trait that was always laughable in how it ended up getting used to explain all the constant changes to continuity. But to Snyder and Johns credit they embrace this “power” Superboy-Prime must use it in a way that makes sense as Dark Nights: Death Metal has brought Crisis Energy being a thing in the DC Universe. Superboy-Prime’s Multiverse Punch power being in a way an extension of this made it even more appropriate that he would be the one to take down Batman Who Laughs’ Last 52 Multiverse.
Speaking of Batman Who Laughs, we once again see The Darkest Knight play his role as a villain to perfection. Batman Who Laughs revels in chaos and destruction to the point he believes his side is the only right side. Batman Who Laughs trying to get Superboy-Prime to his side aligns with everything the character has done up to this point. He knows what Superboy-Prime has done and wants to add another Superman to his side to continue to show his power to everyone.
This all makes the ultimate sacrifice that Superboy-Prime decides to make a memorable character moment. Finally after all he has done Superboy-Prime finally understands what he needs to do to step up and be the hero he has always wanted to be. Adding Krypto to this decision made how Superboy-Prime’s decision emotionally resonates as powerful as the Crisis energy punch he unleashes on Batman Who Laughs.
Making this heroic sacrifice, all with the sorrow-filled image of Krypto howling, made the ending Dark Nights: Death Metal The Secret Origin come across as a satisfying conclusion to Superboy-Prime’s story. Finally, after everything he has done this version of Clark Kent was able to get back to his Earth-Prime Universe and reunite with Laurie Lemmon. Giving the character a reset so he can live the life he wanted with Laurie does a good job at closing the book on one of the long-term stories in DC’s history.
The artwork from beginning to end for Dark Nights: Death Metal The Secret Origin was top notch. Jerry Ordway, Francis Manapul, Ryan Benjamin and Richard Friend, and Paul Pelletier and Norm Rapmund all worked together well so their respective styles clashed. They all brought their A-games to this story about Superboy-Prime to keep the story constantly moving forward. The pages they were each assigned worked to their respective strengths as artist. Hi-Fi, Ian Herring, Rain Beredo, and Adriano Lucas coloring for this comic book deserves just as much credit as they helped maintain the consistency in all the artwork’s look at a high standard.
The Bad: With all of this said it is a shame that one of the bigger character arcs in Dark Nights: Death Metal was told in a tie-in one-shot. Superboy-Prime was specifically brought back into play by Snyder in the main Dark Nights: Death Metal story. To remove his story, which sees Superboy-Prime destroy Batman Who Laughs’ Last 52 Multiverse, from the main events in Dark Nights: Death Metal shows that the event got to big to be told in the 7 issues Snyder and Capullo got to tell their final DCU story. Which is a shame because Superboy-Prime’s sacrifice is something that would be even more remembered if it happened in the main story taking place in Dark Nights: Death Metal.
Overall: Scott Snyder and Geoff Johns deliver an emotionally powerful end to Superboy-Prime’s story with Dark Nights: Death Metal The Secret Origin #1. Everything Superboy-Prime has done since Infinite Crisis is paid off in way that by the end you do feel that the character got the ending he deserves. Snyder and Johns writing of Superboy-Prime’s story is further strengthened by the top-tier artists that all worked on Dark Nights: Death Metal The Secret Origin #1. This is a definite must by for those reading Dark Nights: Death Metal.
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