Even though Dark Nights: Metal doesn't begin until August 16, readers have been given a slew of hints about the story thanks to several DC announcements, a couple Dark Days prequels, as well as first looks, previews and articles here at Newsarama.
"It's essentially, the Justice League discovers that there's a Dark Multiverse out there, and that Dark Multiverse is coming to invade. And everybody is screwed," said writer Scott Snyder. "So they go around trying to find the stuff, this Nth Metal, which is one of the rarest things in the universe."
Dark Nights: Metal is the much-anticipated reunion of Snyder and his "New 52" Batman partner Greg Capullo. But many of the story's concepts were introduced in Dark Days: The Forge and Dark Days: The Casting, two one-shots Snyder co-wrote with James Tynion IV.
As a result, readers have been given glimpses of the story's main players and mysteries but few answers. As we get ready for next week's kick-off to the event, Newsarama is running down the 10 big unanswered questions of Dark Nights: Metal.
What's the story behind the Outsiders black ops team that Batman formed?
In Dark Days: The Forge, the Joker shared knowledge about Bruce Wayne's dark-ops team - a group called the Outsiders, made up of Metamorpho, Black Lightning, Katana, Halo, and Geo-Force. He said they'd been helping Batman with his investigation into 'the Dark.'
Although these characters may have just been a throwaway cameo - particularly since Metamorpho is supposed to be soon joining The Terrifics (more on that in a minute) - The Outsiders is a concept that could return at some point in Metal. Is this the familiar Outsiders team from DC's previous stories? Or something new?
What's the story behind Plastic Man and Mister Terrific?
In Dark Days: The Forge, the super-smart hero Mister Terrific had gathered data from another world for Batman's investigation into the Dark. In the same issue, readers were shown what appeared to be Plastic Man, stuck in an oval shape, seemingly held there by a huge contraption.
And Batman told Mister Terrific to free Plastic Man.
Not only do readers still not understand the story behind Terrific's investigation and Plastic Man's containment, but there's a new question now that DC announced a new comic book about The Terrifics. How do Plastic Man and Terrific join with Phantom Girl and Metamorpho (previously of the aforementioned Outsiders) to form a team known as the Terrifics?
How is the Shazam family involved?
In Dark Days: The Casting, the Wizard from the Shazam/Captain Marvel mythos produces a powerful dagger that is made of Nth Metal. The Wizard is among several immortals who take part in a meeting to discuss the dangers of the Dark.
Eventually, the dagger ends up in the hands of Ra's Al Ghul, who was among the immortals, then his daughter Talia, who gives it to Batman. Talia says the dagger has "the power of Shazam," and later the dagger affects Duke Thomas and aids in Batman's attempt to access the Dark Multiverse.
Snyder told Newsarama that DC has "big plans" for the Marvel Family after Metal. But how does Metal tie in to their story? What is this dagger? Does it connect to Billy Batson and friends?
Who are the three tribes: Bear, Wolf and Hawk?
In Dark Days: The Forge and previews for Dark Nights: Metal, three symbols keep showing up, referring to three tribes: Wolf, Bear and Hawk. In Forge, Hawkman described a "glimpse" he experienced while investigating Nth Metal - “a story that began with the first men to walk the Earth - three tribes.”
Subsequent clues have indicated the story can be traced back to these tribes, and it's looking like they might tie into the history of the Immortal Man, Vandal Savage, Hawkman, and Hawkgirl. But the connection isn't clear. Who are these tribes? And what do they have to do with the Dark Multiverse?
What is Duke Thomas? And what will he become?
The Casting revealed that Batman ally Duke Thomas has traces of mysterious metal in his blood - something his mother apparently had too. And because of this, they have some sort of connection to immortality and to the "dark energy" being investigated by Batman.
In The Casting, Duke discovered powers that were previously hidden. And DC has announced that he'll be starring in his own ongoing title soon as the Signal.
So who is Duke Thomas? How is he connected to the Dark Multiverse? And what will his new role in the DCU be?
What's the story behind the Joker's appearance?
In The Forge, the Joker was discovered in a secret portion of the Batcave - an area that Duke Thomas didn't even know about. He was apparently imprisoned there, but not before he discovered secrets about Duke being a "signal," information about the Bat-creature drawing in the depths of the Batcave, and that he "knows how the story will end" because it's happened before.
How did Joker get there? How does he know so much? And even though Snyder promised he won't be solving the "Rebirth" mystery of the "three Jokers," is Joker's knowledge about the Dark connected to him being one of three?
What's the deal with the Blackhawks and the Dark?
Readers have seen hints about a group of characters - both past and present - who are either either working together with the Blackhawks or are connected with their mission. And it's all tied to the mystery of the Nth Metal and the Dark Multiverse. Included in the glimpses of these characters are Hawkman and Hawkgirl, but also odd characters like versions of the Challengers of the Unknown and the '80s Starman.
How are all these characters connected? There's a chance some of these cameos were just continuity fan-service, but there were story threads involved too. What do the Blackhawks and others have to do with the power of the Dark, and why are the Blackhawks currently trying to stop Batman?
Who are the spin-off characters — the Silencer, the Immortals and others getting Dark Matter spin-off titles?
Besides the aforementioned The Terrifics, DC has also announced ongoing titles for a wide variety of Metal-connected concepts that are still essentially unexplained. Titles like Brimstone, The Silencer, Sideways, Immortal Men, Damage and New Challengers all feature characters that haven't been introduced, but are promised to play a role in Metal.
Who are they? How did they get their powers? Are they connected? Or are these just a bunch of new concepts that come from different corners of the DCU?
Where is Hawkman?
In Dark Days: The Casting, Hawkman walked into some type of portal, deciding that he had to pursue the powers of Nth Metal on his own. Just before he left, he secretly handed his journal to an unknown character.
Snyder told fans in Comic-Con International: San Diego that Nth Metal is the only material that will stop the Dark Multiverse's invasion, so heroes "go around trying to find the stuff." Will the heroes go looking for Hawkman? DC has already announced an upcoming story by Jeff Lemire, Bryan Hitch, and Kevin Nowlan called Hawkman Found, which appears in the middle of Metal's run. So Hawkman will likely be reappearing. But where did he go?
What is the terrible being waiting to pounce on the DCU?
In The Forge and The Casting, readers were shown that a bat-looking creature fought heroes in the history of the DCU, but it was entrapped by Hawkman and Hawkgirl (or some form of them).
Now it wants to come back from, apparently, miles beneath Gotham City. What is it? Who are his followers in the skull masks? What's the meaning behind the cave drawings and the bat tribe Hawkman mentioned? And how is this creature connected to Batman?
Dark Nights: Metal #1 will be available August 16.