To the casual reader, Dark Nights Death Metal #1 might appear to be a confusing mess, more style the substance. Certainly it’s an unusual comic born of a high concept. To complicate matters further, it is also attempting the nigh-impossible task of clarifying the current state of DC Comics continuity.
Here’s the short version for those of you playing along at home. The past few years have seen several different writers attempting to redefine the DC Universe like never before. In one corner, we had Geoff Johns and Doomsday Clock – a sort-of sequel to Watchmen that viewed the heroes of DC Comics through a metatextual lens and explored the idea that The New 52 universe was literally the result of Dr. Manhattan rebuilding reality without hope or legacy at the core. In another corner, we have Brian Michael Bendis, trying to rebuild the Superman mythos from the ground-up with some crazed conspiracy theory about their being a plot to destroy Krypton and some all-knowing secret organization called Leviathan.
In another corner, we have Scott Snyder and Justice League, which spun a wild tale of the universe being governed by the forces of Justice and Doom and how everything dating back to Crisis on Infinite Earths is tied to a mad goddess named Perpetua. And then there’s everything in Joshua Williamson’s The Flash and Tom King’s Heroes in Crisis. And all of this ignores the recent attempt to revive classic Vertigo Comics universe as The Sandman Universe, which is now part of DC’s Black Label.
Confused? I don’t blame you. I can barely keep it all straight and it’s my job to keep this sort of thing straight.
Thankfully, Dark Nights Death Metal #1 serves as a perfect introduction to this complicated mess and starts laying a groundwork for how it all works together. Somehow. And we also get Sgt. Rock cursing at the readers about how to cope when what you thought was a nice hamburger turns out to be a turd sandwich. Learn not to sweat the details and love the bomb, however, and there’s a brilliant book here that builds on the end of Snyder’s Justice League, as we find Wonder Woman in a strange new world where she’s the queen of Hell and head jailer for a strange team of vigilantes that includes Batman’s brain in a robot T-Rex body.
Why? Because that’s awesome, that’s why!
Greg Capullo’s art is equally influenced by Frank Frazetta and Roger Dean, as befits this series’ concept as a heavy metal progressive rock opera on paper. Everything is gritty and seems more appropriate to Metal Hurlant than DC Comics, but it works as well as it did in the original Dark Nights Metal series.
Fans of Scott Snyder’s Justice League will get the most out of this book, but newcomers can be rest assured that it is worth muddling through the weirdness at the start of this issue to get to the explanation of what the heck is going on and who is fighting who and why in the Brave New World in which Wonder Woman finds herself. If you’re looking for a good entry point into the current state of DC Comics, this fits the bill.
Dark Nights Death Metal #1 releases on June 16th, 2020!
Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.