Dark Nights: Death Metal is the most fun summer event in quite some time, and this third issue – out now from Scott Synder, Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion, FCO Plascencia and Tom Napolitano – may very well be the dour and dark crescendo to a symphony almost half a decade in the making, but it also gives Snyder and Capullo the change to run wild with the DC Comics toy box, and creating a few new toys in the process. Take the parademons of Apokolips for instance, transformed by The Batman Who Laughs into ‘pararobins’, to join the ranks or the likes of B.Rex and the Batmobeast. Gloriously daft, and a much needed diversion from the gothic overtures of this series. The sharp back and forth between Harley Quinn and Batman only adds to the humour. Batman makes a great straighten to Harley’s funny girl routine. And, this is only on the first two pages of this new issue! It’s a scene that makes for a great standard bearer for the rest of this book too.
With the entrance of Batmanhattan (see what I mean!) – whom we saw The Batman Who Laughs transform into at the end of last issue – the risks have just gotten even greater and our heroes chances even slimmer. They’ve already spent the best part of four years over on Justice League getting their asses handed to them on a plate, and now this new, dark reality. All in all, this whole series should read as one big downer, but thanks to Snyder’s snappy, often humorously-edged dialogue and an understanding of his characters, we get a book that remains lighter in tone than it deserves to be and, really, is a celebration of DC Comics past crises all rolled up into one, with plenty of call-backs included in this issue. Oh, and don’t forget, he has to navigate this epic through what would have been with 5G too. That’s quite the juggling act, but I’m here to report; so far, so good.
I have always found Capullo’s art to be ever so slightly cartoon-like, which helped smooth out the dark edges of his Batman run with Snyder, but also adds that same tone to proceedings here. Here is a talent who’s past Image/Todd McFarlane inspired art style has matured and is less exaggerated, to suit more modern comic book readers’ tastes. Proper comic boom art, if you know what I mean.
As well as fun, campy dialogue and the kind of interaction you only get between great friends, there’s also a trip to the Fifth Dimension, the Crypt of Heroes and another look-in on the Justice Society of America, more of the Robin King – who we learnt more about in last week’s Dark Nights Death Metal: Legends of the Dark Knight #1 – and a line of dialogue that reminds readers of Snyder’s background in horror. Then there’s Batmanhattan and Perpetual, and in the middle of it all is Wally West, empowered by Doctor Manhattan too, and the return of… Jarro, doing his best homage to The Shawshank Redemption! For any DC Comic book fan old or new, all of these element wonderfully weaved together, should be pushing all the right buttons. Add to this another returning face, and the start of an explanation for the ‘Death Metal’ of this series’ title, and Dark Nights: Death Metal #3 is another issue of well balanced humour, horror and irreverence and homage. And out now from DC Comics.