Dark Nights: Metal #2
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion and FCO Plascencia
Lettering by Steve Wands
Published by DC Comics
Review by Pierce Lydon
‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
Spoilers ahead for Dark Nights: Metal #2.
They say you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. They also say you can’t have it both ways. As turns out, Batman is even more powerful than the oldest idioms, because that’s exactly what’s going on here. Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and company race toward the end of this Dark Nights: Metal #2 and deliver a fast-paced, action-packed addition to this event.
On the whole, Metal continues to be a really satisfying even if it does rely on some “big moments” to help gloss over some of the more clunky parts on both the writing and the art sides.
A big part of enjoying Metal is accepting that a lot of it sounds completely insane. Snyder is doing a pretty good job of weaving together somewhat disparate parts of the DCU by finding the thing they all having in common. Luckily for him, Batman has an incredibly prominent role in just about everything, and that makes him the easy throughline between Snyder’s work and what’s come before. There was some pushback from fans about the idea of yet another Batman-centric event, but what Snyder actually achieves here is really interesting. For all of Bruce’s planning and detective work, he’s been outsmarted, and now the entity that basically allowed for the existence of Batman will use the Justice League’s greatest asset against them. This is a story where Batman loses, and that’s bad for everyone involved.
When this book is at it’s best, it’s really moving. The opening pages feature the Justice League chasing after Batman, only to run into duplicates designed to throw them off the trail. It’s a clever gambit, even if it doesn’t throw them off for long, as Snyder is wise to make sure that the Dark Knight isn’t constantly undermining the skills of the entire Justice League. There are some of the greatest heroes ever assembled - Batman’s good, but they’re no slouches either. But when Snyder needs to throw more exposition and backstory, the pacing grinds to a halt because this story just runs so deep. Without even cursory knowledge of what Snyder’s drawing from, readers would likely be incredibly lost, so it’s a bit of a Catch-22. Thankfully, Snyder and Capullo add in a lot of relief from the exposition. The reveal of the multiple Batmen, Clark punching through Bruce’s chest, the Legion of Doom headquarters and eventually the appearance of the Dark Knights all buoy the book and allow it to breathe a little bit. No matter how complicated the backstory seems to be, the conceit of the this story is simple: what happens when despite all his planning and preparation, Batman becomes potentially the strongest villain the League has ever faced?
The art ends up having similar problems to the writing, sometimes because of the writing. In those expository panels, the art can often feels crowded out, as if the page itself might have benefitted from a different layout to accommodate the additional text. Similarly, Capullo has always drawn a great Batman, but that’s in part to Glapion’s inks being able to reinforce what can otherwise feel like very brittle linework. It’s evident mostly with other characters like Superman and Wonder Woman, who just don’t have the same presence on the page as Batman without those heavier blacks. But when that contrast can be provided (usually in scenes with lower light, as we see towards the end of the issue), his linework comes across a lot stronger. And it’s a shame that the linework isn’t a little bit more consistent because the action is there (even if sometimes the choice of angle is less than stellar) and Capullo does make the book a fairly easy read. Those big moments in Snyder’s script really sing under Capullo’s pencil and I don’t know any fan who wouldn’t be excited at the sight of that final double-page spread of the Dark Knights. It’s a truly metal moment.
Dark Nights: Metal is a romp so far. It’s not without it’s flaws. But it’s the kind of event that you can sit down and have fun with even if you aren’t picking it all up on the first read. It does require knowledge of the past DCU (or at least a willingness to accept what you’re being told about it), and the editors could probably have thrown in an extra Editor’s Note or two just to direct people to the other readings that might actually enhance this experience.
Scott Snyder proves that he can do the long game as well as anyone, and this event is really shaping up to be his magnum opus if he can pay it all off. More than maybe any other event book in recent memory, you can tell that the creative team is having fun with this one and that goes a long way to getting people onboard. Comics should be fun. Metal is trying to remind us that.