The Black Album. The Number of the Beast. British Steel. Ace of Spades. Back in Black. Every so often, there comes a piece of art that becomes so seminal it almost defines the artist. By first indication, Dark Knights: Metal will be that for the team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. While it is certainly a part of DC Rebirth, and absolutely deserving of this week’s Rebirth Royalty, it’s so important to the overall DC Universe that it didn’t seem fair to cover it in brief during the round up. There will certainly be major spoilers in this review, so proceed at your own risk.
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Dark Nights: Metal #1
Written by Scott Snyder
Pencils by Greg Capullo
Inks by Jonathan Glapion
Colors by FCO Palscencia
Letters by Steve Wands
Foil-stamped embossed cover by Greg Capullo
Variant covers by Andy Kubert, Jim Lee and John Romita Jr.
Some things have been missing from the DC Universe in the aftermath of DC: Rebirth. Several iconic characters haven’t been seen. Two teams that define the legacy of the DC Universe have only been hinted at, but more importantly, a story with the feeling of a Greek epic. A story with a multiversal scope, of legendary good against a mythic evil. For me, DC has long been defined by it’s universe shaping Crises, and that is a thing we have not seen in years.
Metal’s opening licks are setting the tone for things to come, as we start without explanation on War Moon with the Justice League captured and their powers hindered by the monstrous Mongul. This opening salvo doesn’t slow down, as we see an outmatched and overwhelmed Justice League at the mercy of Mongul and automatons created by the Toyman. We get to see Wonder Woman strategize and command, and we get to see Batman’s detective skills pay off. And oh, what a pay off it is, as we get a Justice League Megazord (I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that Hal Jordan is the Justicezord’s crotch).
As tremendous as the opening scene is, it pales in comparison to what is to come. Metal is loaded with reveals and cataclysms rarely scene, even in the DC Universe. We get the return of the Blackhawks, led by Lady Blackhawk–though not the one you’d expect. We see glimpses of Doctor Fate, the Metal Men, and Plastic Man as they are haunted by the specters of the Dark Knights. We learn that Hawkman in preparation for this crisis had recruited the Challengers of the Unknown and commissioned the creation of Red Tornado. We get impossibly colossal moments both devastating and bizarre, as a mountain gets dropped on Gotham City and Batman escapes Blackhawk Island on the back of a dinosaur. We see Grant Morrison’s Multiverse map, and Carter Hall’s adventure journal. But the most shocking reveal comes at the end, and again, I’m going to warn of spoilers. This is a moment you’ll want to read for yourself, and I encourage you to do so. At the end of the issue, Batman is confronted by Dream of the Endless, who in another universe had been the grandson of Carter and Shayera Hall, the son of Fury and Doctor Fate. Dream is intimately tied to the Hawkfamily, and though it is told with Batman as the protagonist, Metal feels just as much their story as Bruce’s.
As broad and epic as the story is, the art is just as incredible, by going as small as the story is gigantic. Capullo’s pencils are so finely detailed it’s hard not to stare at the textures and backgrounds he details throughout the issue. It almost seems as though you could run your fingers over the page to feel the rigid scales on the dinosaur’s body, or the spiny feathers protruding from it’s head. And while some detail oriented pencillers can overwork the lines in a piece, Capullo also knows when to cut back so as not to overwhelm the reader. He sacrifices neither readability nor detail, a balance that is often difficult to maintain.
There’s something else in Metal that is often missing in event books and that is a seamless cohesion of the creative team. While many events pair big name creators, it’s often a pairing that hasn’t had the opportunity to learn how best to compliment each other. Metal capitalizes on Snyder and Capullo’s intimate working relationship that they’ve cultivated over the last six years. This is a pairing on par with Marv Wolfman and George Perez on the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, or Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis on Blackest Night.
Metal #1 provides us with an engaging and fast paced hook into the event, and judging by the cliffhanger, Snyder and Capullo have no intention of slowing down. This is their magnum opus, and what a ride it looks to be.