The story being played out in the main Dark Nights: Death Metal series is so huge in scale it’s spilt out and into several entertaining and, in my opinion, essential tie-ins already, and this week saw the publication of Dark Nights: Death Metal: Trinity Crisis #1 which is another essential read in my opinion and worth picking up. And, as it’s also written by Scott Snyder, teaming up with artist extraordinaire, Francis Manapul, it feels more like an additional oversized issue of Dark Nights: Death Metal instead.
While I often feel the core book seems to make mention of events that have happened off page, its these meaty one-shots that have helped expand and elevate the whole affair and puts it on track to go down in the annals of DC Comics’ history as one of the better crises sagas to engulf the DCU.
Wonder Woman takes charge as she sets out the next stage in their plan to take out Perpetua and it requires the Justice League to spilt-up and into smaller teams which has always been a staple of the Justice League of old and good to see this narrative convention being used as the backbone to this stories narrative that is told in this special.
And so, the DC trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman head out to infiltrate Castle Bat, along with Harley Quinn, Jonah Hex’s zombie and a decomposing Swamp Thing not too much better looking than Jonah. Meanwhile, Martian Manhunter and Hawkgirl lead a team to destroy Perpetua’s throne, leaving John Stewart and the Lanterns to take out the remaining antennae that are harvesting the crisis energies feeding Perpetua.
Of course this whole affair gives artists like Manapul the chance to flex their creativity with alternative versions of Batman primarily, but the whole Justice League too, and it’s always been a big part of why I love DC Comics and their attachment to the multiverse that goes way, way back to that fateful day Barry Allen and Jay Garrick met in The Flash #123 (1961). The backdrops are equally as important as they establish this new world order in savage detail but thanks to colour artist Ian Herring, it’s not allowed to steep too far into darkness and its a surprising colourful issue given its subject matter.
Furthermore, Manapul is a master of laying out a page of art in very expressive and experimental ways and it’s always a revelation to see what he does in any comic book he illustrates. And an aside, I am forever reminded of a remark Jim Shooter made about Manapul’s art when they both worked together on The Legion of Superheroes back in 2008: “is going to be great someday – maybe one of the best of all time,” and which were misconstrued at the time. But, not by me. I knew then what me meant when discussing this young gun’s emerging talents, and boy was he proven right. Manapul is one of the best in the biz, and that’s partly down to his almost Eisner-esque eye for layout, which is on display her one again and only adds to the energy and drama of this essential read.
There’s thrills, spills and a reveal at the end of a returning character from the odd few pervious crises too and with Snyder working his way through each one it’s no surprise this particular character is back. I look forward to how he is being particularly used this time round, given the fan theories surrounding his role in a very specific previous crisis in the DCU. My only gripe with this whole issue is how the big reveal at the end is somewhat spilt by the cover unfortunately. And that cost you a point deduction, DC Comics in what would have otherwise been a 10/10 effort.
What is worth noting about this current crisis is the role of Princess Diana. Argue with me all you want, but in the past most crises to rock the DCU have been ultimately won by Superman, for many, many different reasons including what he stands for as arguable America’s first superhero, as a symbol of hope, strength and preserving a carton way of life, and so much more. But this time round – and it’s only taken almost 80 years – it’s Wonder Woman who’s very firmly in the driving seat as Superman struggles to keep the anti-life in check. About time, DC, and a reflection of how far comic book story telling and representation has come, even in a few years. Here’s hoping Batman doesn’t come forth to win teh day, as Snyder is prone to do. After all, in many ways, its because of Batman we’re in this mess anyway. Or, at Elst, a version of Batman from the DaRk Multiverse.
Snyder’s long-form love letter to the DCU of mine, his and other fans’ collective experiences continues to impress and entertain and offer up one-shots like this that are all killers and no fillers, and truly add to the unfolding epic. Something I couldn’t say about their extinguished competitions most recent summer event. If Marvel thought they could strike back with Empyre, they were very much mistaken.