Dark Nights Metal #1
Dark Knights Metal #1 is an incredible introduction to one of the freshest, fun, and exciting events DC Comics has churned out in a long while. Rebirth has been a great success, and a revitalized the brand, especially for fans feeling bogged down by the grittiness and darkness of the New 52. Metal is none of that— this comic is everything fun about comics, and everything super about superheroes, rolled into one hard-hitting package. This is what you get when you let creators do what they want, create things they think are awesome, and focus on the heroes we all love. DC
Metal is, frankly, Metal AF.
To put it simply, the comic is a really fun read. The introductory battle has everything from gladiator combat, leather kilts, and gross pink alien blood, to the Justice league MegaZording into a giant mech to defeat Mongol. Snyder and Capullo pretty much threw all their cool ideas into a blender and created a weird comic full of strange, off-the-wall ideas that somehow function harmoniously.
The first few pages are rife with an almost self-parodying humour and a friendly banter between all the members of the league. What so many DC books have bene missing in the last few years has turned up here. The interactions between the heroes remind us that they are also friends and comrades. The short exchanges demonstrate the bonds and relationships the DC crew has built over years of working together (and sometimes fighting each other) for the common good. Quippy exchanges between characters perfectly capture the league’s ability to work well together, even under extreme pressure. It does a lot to build a feeling of unity between the members of the league, adding more to the tension that results from Batman making some disastrous mistakes that may spell defeat for our heroes.
The fun factor remains even as the tone darkens and the mystery begins. The threat of a soon to be world changing event, heralded by Batman himself, and the reintroduction of a Grant Morrison Batman character add to the layers of mystery and suspense. Both are welcome and feel like natural parts of the plot rather than forced shock additions, which is a fine balance in such a plot-heavy issue.
As the scene is set and Batman realizes he may have (or will have?) made a few terrible decisions and led the team, and the world, into untold dangers.
Halfway through the issue, exposition gets in the way of what was a carefully constructed narrative pace. It takes place in very classic comic book style— a newish character appears to explain to the Justice league how much they don’t know about their current situation, and handily kickstarts the plot by revealing some key information about Batman. The exposition dump is more an acceptable obtrusion than anything else. Thankfully it’s over quickly and we get another cool fight scene for our patience.
The whole comic is incredibly well grounded by Greg Capullo’s art. The style feels kinetic but visceral. Capullo is a true veteran and can rock dynamic combat scenes and bloody battles while maintaining a serious, personal tone in still conversations between characters. Capullo does a stellar job of tying the whole issue together and keeping a steady forward momentum, even through lengthy exposition and wordy catch-up conversations. The art complements and enhances the script, playing into the visual comedy and actively engaging the reader, pulling us through the plot so we can keep up with the fast-paced action.
Capullo’s art is joined by Jonathan Glapion on inks and Flo Plascencia on colors. The line weight throughout the issue gives the book a retro feel, and each panel looks like its own heavy metal album cover. The colors in this book are phenomenal. Fans may say they tired of dark, gritty DC art, but FCO Plascencia presents a fresh take on the style. The plot is fun and fresh, and the colors follow suit. Though this issue presents some dark themes, but the deep blacks and darker tones are offset by bright lightning, colorful dinosaurs (yeah, you heard me. dinosaurs), and light, striking tones in the lighter parts of the issue.
This issue focuses on journal entries and dialogue, so the lettering work was heavy and demanding. Steve Wands handles every twist and turn with skill, shifting from artistic journal excerpts to visually striking effects that contextualize the events of the plot. This is a dialogue-heavy issue with a huge cast of characters, but Wands balances the empty space and keeps everything flowing forward. The interactions between characters, especially whispers, are handled excellently and help develop the relationships between individual characters.
To sum it up, Dark Nights Metal #1 is awesome, if a little exposition heavy. For fans entering this blindly, though, the set-up is necessary and handled in a way that does not stall the forward momentum of the plot or feel extremely out of place.
This is definitely a DC book, and it feels simultaneously retro and brand new. It is refreshing to see something fun and creative coming from DC, and we can’t wait for more! Dark Knights Metal #1 (and the rest of the series, if this issue is any indication), is definitely a recommended read.