Review: Snyder And Capullo Offer Up A Darker DCU In ‘Dark Nights: Death Metal’ #1

by Oliver MacNamee

The multiverse is dying, only 8 universes survive, and the DCU as we knew it has been transformed into a Lovecraftian nightmare courtesy of The Batman Who Laughs and his mistress, Perpertua. The Justice League have all but lost the battle and the war. All hail the brave new world of mayhem and darkness.

And so we are given a shocking, unsettling new status quo from the DCU’s latest architects, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo in Dark Nights: Death Metal #1, a saga that has been years in the making, taking in 39 issue of the Justice League along the way which we all now know was the longest drawn-out tease in the history of comics! All leading to this universe-shattering series that, I hope, finally makes sense of the DCU after recent false steps such as The Doomsday Clock and the ill-fated 5G initiative that saw Dan Didio lose his job.

Clearly events have moved on from Snyder’s last issue of Justice League last year, and whatever has happened in between, once again Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman and pals face a crisis on multiple Earths with the fate of reality – all realities – as the prize. How the DCU will look after all of this is the central mystery I’m eager to witness unfold. After all, like so many other readers, I’ve invested a lot of time and money into this endeavour. And enjoyed every minute, by the way.

Synder grew up on the same diet and era of DC comics I did, and so it is gratifying to see him respectfully borrow from the past to create a very DC flavoured crisis indeed. This is as much a love-letter to to DC Comics history as it is a summer blockbuster that will, once again, see a new DCU energy from the dust.

As ever, Capullo brings his A-game to the party with his years spent on Spawn showing through in his macabre portrayal of Swamp Thing as well as other horrific elements, I won’t spoil for you, in this debut issue. But, he can draw the exotic and exquisite with as much panache too and seems to relish the amount of design work needed on a book like this one.

It’s a busy issue as it needs to swiftly and effectively establish this new nightmare reality while also stirring up the requisite intrigue too, which he does with the introduction of a mysterious prisoner who’s identity we soon learn. Suggesting how this book is no going to afraid of setting a tracey pace to the action, which is exactly what you’d want from a story of this scale. The prisoner will familiar to many; A rather familiar character who’s been at the peripheries of the DCU for a while now, but has done his fair share of travelling through the known multiverse nonetheless, and gaining a huge power boost as a result. Now, if you haven’t worked it out yet, then do pick up the book and find out for yourselves.

It’s a damn fine debut issue that has a lot of heavy lifting to do before the end as well as some balancing too. Thankfully, Synder’s scripts are pretty heavy on dialogue and exposition that allows readers to catch-up after our initial confusion, as he incorporates other essential stories from DC Comics into his story. And so, with out a sentence, Doctor Manhattan and the whole of the Doomsday Clock are dealt with. He tried to “mend the fractures” of the multiverse only for his actions to “not have the intended effect.” That’s a fey diplomatic way fo putting it, that;s for sure. But, onwards and upwards. We’ve got a new unibsre to forge. Again.

In the past decade DC Comics has gone through not one but two reboots with a great deal more detail being added to the fabric of the DCU as a result. We’ve had the emotional spectrum introduced, the Dark Multiverse, the return of Doctor Manhattan, the JSA and the LSH and so, so much more. All resulting in a more confusing DCU that Snyder has been attempting to sow together for the past few years. Just as Crisis on Infinite Earths did so well back in the mid-80s. It’s too early to say how this will all play out, but this first issue does indeed live up to the hype, with a dynamic, energetic read that incorporates many various elements of the DCU while not making it too comfortable for us the readers. A promising debut and I’m interested in seeing where it goes next and what this creative team includes from the annals of DC’s colourful and vast history.

Dark Nights: Death Metal #1 is available now from DC Comics

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