Dark Nights: Metal has so far lived up to the universe ending event that it was marketed as. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have turned a lot of elements that have been building in the Batman books since Grant Morrison’s run into something that affects the entire DC Universe. Things got even more interesting as we saw what Earth has become since Barbatos took over, which is not a very kind place to the heroes and villains of the world. That led to something interesting new dynamics for all the remaining heroes and villains, some of which was explored in recent tie-ins. Now that we are back to the main event it’ll be interesting to see how the tie-ins work within the context of Snyder and Capullo’s story and what that leads to. Now let’s find that out with Dark Nights: Metal #4
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: Dream of the Endless reads stories of the Justice League’s exploits during the Metal event and how the whole library holding these stories would burn the world down.
In the Dark Multiverse an aged Batman is surrounded by three versions of Superman (Kryptonite Suit Superman, Dark Knight Superman and Superman Blue). Batman does not believe any of them are the real versions of Superman but instead his nightmares, which they confirm.
Batman steals the gauntlet called “Five Finger Death Punch,” which holds every color Kryptonite in it, and uses it to keep all the Supermen from attacking him. Batman then tries to wake his Superman up but is soon attacked by the three Supermen.
At the Rock of Eternity, Wonder Woman, Doctor Fate and Kendra Saunders fight the personifications of the Seven Sins. During the fight Kendra is very pessimistic about their mission’s success much to Wonder Woman’s charging. Kendra states that Carter Hall refused to believe “The Dark” was evil and was afraid that by venturing there she would find out it was. Wonder Woman contacts Aquaman to get an update.
In Atlantis Aquaman and Deathstroke find the guardians watching over the tomb of the first king of Atlantis have been killed. Deathstroke decides to break the seal of the first king’s tomb much to Aquaman’s anger. Aquaman is surprised to find a portal to new depths in the tomb and tells Wonder Woman they will be going off communications for a while.
Over on Thanagar Prime Green Lantern Hal Jordan expresses his surprise to Mr. Terrific about how he never knew a place like they are in existed, further bringing into question the Guardians secrets.
In the throne room Onimar Synn, the emperor of Thanagar, greets Hal and Mr. Terrific, already knowing they are their for the Nth Metal which he has consumed the last of. Onimar goes on to reveal he took over Thanagar with the help of Starro. Mr. Terrific tries to tell Onimar not to be fouled by Starro and that he must help them save Earth and the universe in the process.
Onimar reveals he already knows about “The Dark” threatening Earth and that he has had the Thanagarians build what he calls The Phoenix Cannon, which is fueled by various super-metals, to protect the planet. Onimar then thanks Hal and Mr. Terrific for bringing him the last piece he needed to ensure Thanagar’s protection. He proceeds to have his guards capture Hal and Mr. Terrific with Starro ensuring Hal’s Green Lantern ring doesn’t work by affecting his mind.
Somewhere unknown Batman and Superman wonder where they are. Dream appears and Batman demands to know why he is suddenly helping them. Dream reveals his various names throughout time and current events are much more personal than Batman and Superman know.
Dream transports the two to his personal library. Dream reveals that the library is called “The Dreaming,” a domain where everyone goes to while sleeping. He goes on to say the “Lucien’s Library” section is reserved for horror stories never told but are being brought to reality by Barbatos, which is causing the library to burn up.
Superman asks Dream to join them in defeating Barbatos. Dream says he can’t do that but can help them by giving them information on the spark that created Matter and Anti-Matter. Along with with them came a third monitor to watch over what was to come and resided at the World Forge. The forger ended up spending time creating universes and had its great dragon, Barbatos, destroy them to return its energy to the forge. Barbatos ended up turning on its master.
Dream goes on to reveal that by removing Superman from the dark towers it stopped Barbatos from sending Earth into darkness. He then reveals the metal of the Forge he spoke of is much more powerful than Nth Metal or any other metal they have found. He goes on to say that Barbatos has a secret cosmic being that will help it plunge the world in darkness.
Superman and Batman request Dream’s help. Dream says he can only create a passage that could lead the two to the center of creation if they walk with hope and wonder. Superman says he’ll go but Batman isn’t sure he can.
Batman says he is nothing more than a failure who has lacked hope or wonder throughout his life. Superman calls Batman out on this as he has brought hope and wonder to everyone. Batman is still not sure so Superman reminds Batman of his family back home. Batman starts remembering Damian and his family and gets the conviction to enter Dream’s passage.
Elsewhere while Hal and Mr. Terrific have been imprisoned by the Thanagarians and Aquaman and Deathstroke begin their own journey.
Meanwhile Wonder Woman, Doctor Fate and Kendra are able to discover a secret room within the Rock of Eternity. Inside Kendra looks to smash the Astral Brain of the Anti-Monitor. Doctor Fate and Wonder Woman try to stop her from damaging the multiverse.
Kendra suddenly stops and ends up collapsing, dropping the Anti-Monitor’s brain in the process. Suddenly Kendra transforms into Lady Blackhawk. Lady Blackhawk quickly kills Doctor Fate.
Black Adam then appears in front of Wonder Woman. Black Adam reveals that he and Vandal Savage have made a deal with Barbatos. He then tells Wonder Woman to hand over the Anti-Monitor’s brain, something Wonder Woman declines to do.
At the Forge of Worlds, Batman and Superman are in awe of what they see. Batman brings up how in Carter Hall’s journal spoke about the Forge of Worlds being a place of beginnings rather than ends.
Suddenly Carter Hall appears in the great dragon form. Carter proclaims himself as Barbatos’ dragon and keeper of the Forge, which he calls the place where there are only endings. End of issue.
The Good: Dark Nights: Metal #4 does its job of building on what has come before it and adding even more to a story that was already layered with detail. Scott Snyder does a very good job in always keeping the focus of the story on the greater threat that Barbatos is to the DC Universe, even when the villainous Dark Knights group are barely seen. At the same time, Dark Nights: Metal #4 was far from perfect as some of the events scope may be getting too large for the amount of issues we have left in the event.
By splitting Dark Nights: Metal #4 into four different stories going on at the same time Snyder is able to show the reader how big the scope of the his event is. These stories all happening simultaneously help to further the threat level of Barbatos and the Dark Knights of the Dark Multiverse. Because up until now we have been accustomed to the Justice League normally dealing with threats together or at least in giant groups. That is not enough this time around as Barbatos and the Dark Knights are so powerful that the Justice League must make preparations before even thinking of fighting the villains again.
This split up of the Justice League and their allies also allowed Snyder the opportunity to give each member of the team a spotlight rather than just having Batman and Superman take the lead. Even though that happens when it comes to learning major information on Barbatos there wasn’t a moment where we were allowed to forget about the Justice League. By doing this Snyder is able to paint Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and Aquaman’s own journeys as important as the one we see Batman and Superman on.
Wonder Woman’s group of her, Doctor Fate and Kendra Saunders especially took an interesting direction. Having Kendra turn into Lady Blackhawk rather than Hawkwoman gives this version of the character a darker edge. It also builds on how she is connected to Carter Hall and how what happens to one of them affects the other. This also makes you wonder what exactly this version of Kendra will become with her current view on things being on the negative side of things.
Lady Blackhawk’s appearance added to how much Wonder Woman has to go up against. Not only did she lose Kendra but simultaneously lost Doctor Fate in the same instance. That is a big blow considering she now has to face off against Black Adam and Vandal Savage. With the villains sudden appearance Snyder gives what Wonder Woman is doing in the Rock of Eternity an even greater sense of urgency.
Black Adam and Vandal Savage appearance also puts into question what role the Immortals group that Carter Hall and Kendra Saunders assembled will play in the rest of Dark Nights: Metal. These two villains alone are big time threats but we know other immortal characters like Ra’s Al Ghul were also part of the group. If that is the case Snyder may be setting the group up to be just as important as the Justice League when it comes taking down Barbatos.
On the other side of the universe it was very interesting to see how Snyder brought the Thanagarians back through Hal Jordan’s mission. It has been a while since we have seen any hint of Thanagar being part of the DC Universe. With that time away Snyder was able to revamp Thanagar to be an unknown place even to the Green Lanterns. By positioning Thanagar in this way it allowed the reveal that former Hawkman villain, Onimar Synn, is able to be perceived as an even bigger threat that goes beyond the events of Dark Nights: Metal. Now how that ends up circling back to whatever is going on with Hawkman and Hawkwoman’s current developments will be a big question.
All that said, the most intriguing developments to come out of Dark Nights: Metal #4 was from Batman and Superman’s journey. Snyder packs in a lot information with what Batman and Superman are going through. Kicking things off with Batman revealing that he had a gauntlet with all the colors of Kryptonite was a fantastic way to get the two out of their current situation at the dark tower.
The coolness of the Batman and Superman segment was helped by the presence of Dream. Though Dream does come off as a deus ex machina at the beginning of Dark Nights: Metal #4 the information he provides added depth to who Barbatos is. Connecting Barbatos to Monitor and Anti-Monitor instantly elevates the villain of Dark Nights: Metal to an even higher level. It gives us a better idea why Barbatos has so much power and that he truly is a threat that the Justice League can’t just solve by “punching harder.” By doing this Snyder is also able to build Barbatos and the Dark Knights of the Dark Multiverse up even more without having to make them physically appear in every issue of this event.
Adding to the segment was the further exploration of Batman and Superman’s friendship during this journey. Snyder did a fantastic job showing how Batman and Superman will lift each other up when it seems like they are at their lowest. We saw that with Batman doing all he could to defend Superman from the other versions of the Man of Steel. Pulling out the Kryptonite gauntlet was a nice touch to add to how Batman was a nice call back to how the character is always prepared for Superman to turn.
Then we saw Superman return the favor by reminding Batman is fighting for his family in Damian and the rest of the Bat-Family. That eye opening moment for Batman builds off how Snyder has worked on showing the importance of Damian, Dick, Barbara and others during his run in Batman. Using Superman as a conduit to emphasize this only furthers how the two know each other the best and why they are best friends at the end of the day.
Greg Capullo once again delivers a great looking issue with Dark Nights: Metal #4. Capullo’s artwork continues to get better with each passing issue, matching the scope of the story as it gets bigger. What is most impressive about Capullo’s artwork in Dark Nights: Metal #4 is the attention to detail to his character designs. From the white in Superman’s hair to the pouch Hal Jordan is wearing there were some good additions to show the weight of what is going on.
The Bad: As much as Dream’s information dump scene with Batman and Superman was helpful in developing Barbatos, the Dark Knights and the events of this series he was also used as a head scratching deus ex machina. Seeing Dream be the one that saved Batman and Superman from the dark tower in the Dark Multiverse felt like an easy way out for the characters. It also painted Dream as an overly powerful character who then says he can’t help. That move made Dream’s choices even more odd for those unfamiliar with his character since we still don’t understand what he allows himself to interfere with and not interfere with.
Additionally, while Carter Hall’s importance has been built to be big the ending with the character being a dark version of Hawkman working for Barbatos completely fell flat. Given that we have not seen the character in a while, even in tie-in issues, it is hard to actually connect to the character in an emotional way. Not having that emotional connection made his actual appearance in the present fall flat as he just looks like a muscle head that Batman and Superman will punch their way through. The next issue of Dark Nights: Metal will have a lot of work to do to care about Carter Hall’s fate.
Overall: Dark Nights: Metal #4 was another great issue of DC’s latest event. Scott Snyder added to the overall story by adding more context into who Barbatos is. The adventures Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Hal Jordan and Aquaman go on further added to how epic the scope of Snyder’s is. Add in all the detail Capullo gives the things going on in each panel only furthers the fact that Dark Nights: Metal is a must read event for DC Comics fans.