Ricky Church reviews Dark Nights: Death Metal Deluxe Edition…
For nearly a decade writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo have held the reins of Batman, taking him on quite a wild series of adventures from The Court of Owls to Dark Nights: Metal and Last Knight on Earth. Now Snyder and Capullo have reunited for ‘one last tour’ in Dark Nights: Death Metal, the sequel to Metal and the culmination of Snyder’s run on the Justice League title. Death Metal is a worthy follow up to its predecessor and an entertaining and crazy ride through DC’s multiverse. With Snyder’s writing and Capullo’s fantastic artwork, it is definitely a very fun read.
Picking up from Snyder’s Justice League (no, not that one), a powerful entity named Perpetua and the Batman Who Laughs have taken control of Earth and much of the universe, leaving most of the remaining heroes in servitude to them while a select few still resist in a dramatically changed landscape. After meeting someone with the potential power to revert everything back to the way it was, Wonder Woman enacts a plan to save the universe that requires a deep dive into the multiverse with Batman and Superman.
Snyder writes a pretty compelling tale that doesn’t hesitate to go completely bonkers with his ideas and concepts. From exploring the nature of stories, the battle of good versus evil and the power of hope, Snyder takes on some heavy concepts in the vein of a Grant Morrison story. He also takes a dive into DC’s history, looking at some of the biggest events the company has published in recent memory or the ones that have most significantly changed/rebooted their line of comics. It’s fairly interesting and doesn’t get too convoluted for any new readers. Even the fact Death Metal builds off developments from Justice League is easy to follow as Snyder gives a bit of a recap on how Perpetua and Batman Who Laughs came into power, but it still probably would have been a little stronger if Death Metal was its own story the same way Metal was. It does get pretty out there and a little more crazy in the middle of the book, especially after the story jumps forward a little due to a tie-in issue that is not included in the book, but Snyder catches readers up on those events in a quick and humourous manner that doesn’t overly effect the flow of the narrative.
One factor that is a bit surprising given Snyder and Capullo’s work on Batman and the Dark Knight’s focus in the original Metal series, one would be safe in assuming Death Metal would once again primarily follow Batman on this desperate adventure. While he and Superman do play major roles, Snyder actually places the most attention on Wonder Woman. This is really her story, her adventure and her mission as she tries to prevent the destruction of the multiverse before Batman Who Laughs gains too much power. It’s a neat switch, especially since Snyder has never written Wonder Woman so directly before. Snyder’s take on Wonder Woman is quite strong as she’s compassionate, hopeful and a powerful combatant, both physically and socially as she always uses her words first before a fight and makes some great insights into other characters, the universe and arguments to join her cause. If at any point in the future Snyder were to write a Wonder Woman series, this is pretty good evidence he can do the iconic character justice.
Capullo’s artwork is on point as always. He really goes to town on some of the radical changes to the character designs, particularly when it comes to Superman, Swamp Thing, Sergeant Rock and clearly has a lot of fun with the other Nightmare Batmen like B. Rex, a version of Batman who uploaded his consciousness into the Batcave’s robot T-Rex. Capullo’s artwork is rich and detailed, from the character designs to their facial expressions and the chaos of the action. The last couple of chapters has very frenetic fight scenes as he illustrates so many different heroes and villains from across the DCU and balances them all out pretty well for such a large-scale sequence. Much of the imagery is pretty wild to see and is complimented by Snyder and Capullo’s frequent collaborators Jonathan Glapion and FCO Plascencia. Glapion’s inks define Capullo’s art, helping to emphasize a character’s mood, their body language or a scene’s setting and the chaos of battle. Plascencia’s colours are very vivid, bold and pop off the page, providing much of the creepy atmosphere with Batman Who Laughs, Robin King and some other surprising villains who show up. The art all round from Capullo, Glapion and Plascencia is terrific and the best thing about Death Metal and the deluxe format really helps to pour over their details more. If this is indeed the ‘last tour’ of this collaborative team, they certainly went all out to deliver something epic and unique.
Collected as well with this deluxe edition are a few of Capullo’s character sketches for the new designs of the characters as well as the process of developing the first issue’s cover (which is also the book’s cover) as it went through Capullo’s sketches, Glapion’s inks and finally Plascencia’s colours. There is also a collection of variant covers from Doug Mahnke and David Baron, but unfortunately no kind of commentary or afterward from either Snyder or Capullo on their (potentially) final DC project. Given their decade-long work together and the vast mythology Snyder has woven through Batman, Dark Nights: Metal and Justice League, it would have been nice had this book included some insight from either of them over the end of this era, especially as DC kicks off the Infinite Frontier. While the bonus material may be a bit lacking, the story and artwork more than makes up for it.
Dark Nights: Death Metal Deluxe Edition is a pretty worthy follow up to Snyder’s recent works. It is very ambitious in its scope, but Snyder captures most of it with how wild, out there and entertaining the adventure is while contemplating the nature of stories and hope. His take on the characters, and Wonder Woman specifically, is intriguing as they’re all changed but still remain their core selves. Capullo’s artwork is detailed as is Glapion’s inks and Plascencia’s colours, making this book quite a visual treat. Fans of this team will likely enjoy the culmination to Snyder’s work while any potential newcomers may feel slightly lost at first, but will enjoy the ride nonetheless.
Ricky Church – Follow me on Twitter for more movie news and nerd talk.