After a few months of build-up Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo are ready to unleash their big DC Universe event on the world with the first issue of Dark Nights: Metal. From the two issues, Dark Days: The Forge and The Casting, we know that Dark Nights: Metal will further explain the backstory of the term “meta-humans” used by those with superpowers on DCU’s Earth. That alone could be an event in of itself but that is not what Dark Nights: Metal is all about. As we have seen from The Forge and Casting this event will also involve the DC Multiverse. And that is just of what we know about thus far. What else do Snyder and Capullo have in mind for the rest of the DC Universe? Let’s find out with Dark Nights: Metal #1.
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Inker: Jonathan Glapion
Colorist: FCO Plascencia
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: 50,000 years ago a shadowy figure finds a wolf, paw and bird symbol etched on the ground.
In the present the Justice League have been placed in coliseum by Mongul where they have just finished fighting some creatures. Pleased with what he has seen so far Mongul unleashes Toyman’s creation, Fulcum Abominus, for the Justice League to face next.
The Fulcum Abominus come out and quickly overwhelm the Justice League with their specialized weapons. As Wonder Woman calls for the Justice League to regroup Batman figures something out. Batman tells the Justice League to allow the Fulcum Abominus to consume them. They think Batman is crazy but everyone follows his lead.
Inside each Fulcum Abominus, Batman reveals that Toyman was giving the League hints with the machines name that they are to be used to take down Mongul.
Now in control of Fulcum Abominus the Justice League combine their machines into one Mega Justice League Zord and destroy Mongul’s coliseum.
Sometime later the Justice League fly back to Earth. Alfred finally is able to communicated with Batman and informs him that an energy storm has appeared over Gotham City and that a mountain that suddenly appeared destroyed the city.
Flash runs around the area and finds a big door with a hourglass-like symbol on it.
The Justice League open the door and find a special laboratory that is emitting a unique energy signature that Cyborg is detecting. They find a space pod in the middle of the room. Inside the space pod they find what looks to be the energy core that is still emitting energy. Green Lantern finds the words “It’s Chasing Us Run” in blood on the wall.
Suddenly a squad of Blackhawks enter the room with Lady Blackhawk telling the Justice League to step away from the C-Pod. Batman goes over how the Blackhawks are a covert anti-apocalyptic team.
The leader reveals that she is not just Lady Blackhawk and takes mask off to reveal she is also Kendra Saunders. Kendra request the Justice League come with her so they can prepared to stop a full scale invasion.
In the South Pacific Lady Blackhawk takes the Justice League to Blackhawk Island where cosmic energy is conducted through the Earth’s core. Lady Blackhawk explains that this ‘static’ disrupts space-time like on Dinosaur Island, Themyscira and Nanda Parbat.
Superman asks Kendra about the invasion she spoke of. Kendra goes over how Carter Hall (Hawkman) and herself has spent thousands of years throughout many reincarnation stopping evil. She goes on to state Carter also searched for the answer on what the Nth Metal is about as the material defies all the rules of science and magic with the unique energy it broadcasts, like at the mountain inside Gotham City.
Kendra goes on to state that Carter seach kept leading him to finding out that some evil force is behind the Nth Metal. For that reason Carter ended up recruiting teams like the Blackhawks, Metal Men and Challengers of the Unknown to help him discover what is going on. She mentions that recently Carter took the Challengers of the Unknown to travel to “the other side.”
Kendra then takes out a map of the Multiverse that shows that 52 parallel universe exist, something Flash confirms. Kendra turns the map over to show the Justice League that a Dark Multiverse also exists where a third material in the same sphere as Matter and Anti-Matter exists. Kendra believes that the Nth Metal connects them to an older reality than they know.
The Justice League don’t fully believe Kendra’s story. Kendra reveals that before Red Tornado lost contact with them he got a warning of a “Great Dragon” prowling the Dark Multiverse.
She then takes out a scroll she found during her search for what this “Great Dragon” beast is and found it had many different names throughout history including Barbatos. She goes over the legend of the Five Divine Metals and how when she dug deeper she found another word “Wagon” which is the root of the name “Wayne.”
The Blackhawks then turn to try to capture Batman but Red Tornado suddenly re-activates. Red Tornado goes about attacking everyone in the room.
As most of the Justice League fight Red Tornado, Batman uses the chaos to make his escape from the island.
Meanwhile Doctor Fate detects some dark figures getting closer to their universe.
At the Batcave, Alfred begs Batman to tell everyone what he is doing. Batman says he can’t stop right now as he has never seen a pure sample like he found since the Purge. Batman continues to say that he will use what he found to find the missing signs.
Alfred suddenly hears a humming noise. Batman hears the same thing coming from upstairs.
Batman goes upstairs and finds the Batsymbol drawn on the floor. Batman finds the journal of Carter Hall in the room. He reads it and discovers something that he has been looking for to be true.
Suddenly Dream of the Endless appears behind Batman. Dream tells Batman that his nightmare has only just begun. End of issue.
The Good: When creating a first issue of any event Dark Nights: Metal #1 checks off all the boxes of how to deliver a comic that excites fans for what is to come. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo deliver all the big things fans expect to get in an event. And for as continuity heavy as this first issue is they provide enough information to understand what is going on as the story pushes forward.
To start Dark Nights: Metal #1 is a comic that the more you know about the history of the DC Universe the more you will get out of it. This is a comic that rewards fans who have a familiarity with the wider DC Universe. That familiarity extends from the deep pocket in DC’s history all the way to recent comics like Morrison’s Multiversity to expand on DC’s Multiverse concept.
At the same time, Snyder does an excellent job providing as much information about characters like Kendra Saunders and Challengers of the Unknown or ideas like the Multiverse to have a general idea of what is going on. The best part of this is that Snyder doesn’t treat the information he feeds us as just exposition to get to the next part of his story. The story is treated with such care that it clear that everything you will learning from this point on is important to retain for future chapters in Dark Nights: Metal.
With that in mind Snyder does a great job in showing how Batman is at the center of the event. Batman being the character that all the sub-plots of Dark Nights: Metal branch off from is a smart move. Not only is Batman the character Snyder has the deepest history with writing but he is the hero that every comic book fan knows.
That knowledge of Batman makes it easier to grasp how it is Batman, the greatest detective of the DC Universe, investigation that may be part of opening the Pandora’s Box that created the chaos hitting the DC Universe. Throughout Dark Nights: Metal #1 we see how Snyder emphasizes Batman as a detective. We see this specifically as he figures out Toyman’s betrayal of Mongul, the energy resonating from the core the Justice League and the information in Carter Hall’s journal . All these things help establish what Batman’s major role will be in Dark Nights: Metal as the DCU’s heroes will need Bruce’s knowledge to save the day.
Having the Justice League members play a third party role in Dark Nights: Metal help drive home how big of an event we are dealing with. Seeing the surprise reactions of the Justice League as they try to catch up on all the things going on in the shadows of the DC Universe added to the mystery Snyder is building. It furthered the idea that a lot of things we are seeing in Dark Nights: Metal is going to be new to these characters and we will be learning alongside them.
Dark Nights: Metal #1 also does a great job in building up Hawkman and Hawkwoman as intriguing characters. As important as the characters are to DC’s history both Hawkman and Hawkwoman have had a tough time gaining a big following. A lot of that has to do with the fact that the Hawk’s have incredibly complicated histories that makes them hard to grasp.
Now with Dark Nights: Metal, along with The Forge and Casting comics before it, we are seeing how Snyder is on a mission to streamline these characters history. Connecting Hawkman and Hawkwoman’s history to various fan favorite teams like Metal Men, Challengers of the Unknown and the Blackhawk Squadron is a smart way to connect things. This connection between the Hawks and the teams make them all feel important right away.
That importance is furthered by the fact that Hawkman and the Challengers of the Unknown are currently missing, possibly in the Dark Multiverse. This disappearance creates yet another mystery to solve since we already know how important Hawkman is to the overall story. Hawkman not being in Dark Nights: Metal #1 also makes the character come off as a much greater legend. That legend is furthered by how Batman reacts to finding Carter Hall’s journal in his library.
Seeing how Snyder used Dark Nights: Metal #1 as a way to explain Red Tornado’s backstory was great to see. Red Tornado is one of those fan favorite characters who has a lot of potential. Connecting him to the various teams Hawkman has created in each of his most recent investigation instantly builds a history for Red Tornado that is important. His re-activation and attack on the Justice League also furthers the mystery behind whatever Hawkman is up to in exploring the Dark Multiverse.
While they don’t get a lot of screen time the brief appearance of the Dark Knights. Just from the shadowy appearance and Doctor Fate feeling disturbed by their appearance builds interest in their connection to the event. What each of the members of these Dark Knights do and their relation to the story will be highly intriguing.
For as dense as a story as this was Greg Capullo adds further depth with his artwork for Dark Nights: Metal #1. This is a comic where Capullo is drawing so many different types of characters and locations and is able to keep everything together so that pages never feel cluttered. Every character stands out as Capullo adds to the sense of mystery around everything going on. At the same time, he is able to deliver on big moments like the Justice League version of the Megazord and Red Tornado’s attack standing out in terms of action.
The Bad: As I mentioned in my opening, Dark Nights: Metal #1 is a dense reading experience. The more you know about DC’s history the better you will be off. For those that aren’t familiar with all the characters and teams re-introduced in Dark Nights: Metal #1 their importance will be lost on you. That is neither the fault of Snyder or new readers since that is always hard to do. Still, these elements do create a sense that it is not completely new reader friendly. Hopefully as Dark Nights: Metal continues Snyder is able to give readers more details on groups like the Challengers of the Unknown to make new fans for the team by the end of the event.
The ending is a good example of the depth of knowledge in DC’s history hurt some of the impact of Dark Nights: Metal #1. As someone not familiar with Gaiman’s Sandman work the appearance of Dream of the Endless did nothing for me. While clearly an important character, Dream’s appearance did not connect in the way where my jaw was on the floor. Future issues of Dark Nights: Metal have a chance to turn that opinion around but for a first issue’s ending it didn’t deliver as it should’ve.
Overall: Dark Nights: Metal #1 is an excellent start to the latest event from DC Comics. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo pack a lot into this first issue that will leave a lot of long time DC fans happy. Newer fans may feel lost with some elements in Dark Nights: Metal #1 but Snyder and Capullo make it clear that they will provide the information readers need to know to keep up as the event continues. The connection to DC’s past and future created an aura around Dark Nights: Metal that makes it feel like the most important event for the company.