In Dark Nights: Metal #2, the narration reviewed a fundamental story from DC history about the creation of the universe, but then connected it to a crazy scheme involving an astral brain and the Rock of Eternity.
According to Metal, the plan calls for someone to "take the Anti-Monitor's astral brain and ... fire it through the core of the Multiverse, at the Rock of Eternity, and destroy the Dark Multiverse once and for all."
When we call this plan "crazy," we're not just talking about it being risky, which the dialogue implies that it is - saying there are dangers to mixing "anti-matter and dark matter."
But just the fact that a writer could come up with the idea is kind of mind-boggling.
"It's serious. That is the real story," Metal writer Scott Snyder said with a laugh in a Newsarama interview this month. "[It's] not tongue-in-cheek. That really is the plan. But, at the same time, there's a joy to the zaniness of the elements in there. You know?"
So readers, be aware that this installment of Dark Nights: Metal 101 is treading on zany ground. For those just getting on board with DC Comics, or even those long-time readers who are confused as hell by the idea, we're going to attempt to steer this Dark Nights: Metal 101 toward some known facts, even though discussing something so "out there" leans toward conjecture.
Krona and the Hand of Creation
Let's start with the easy stuff.
Snyder and artist Greg Capullo start their second Metal issue with a narration about Krona, who looked into the "very core of the universe."
This narration refers to a story that's been a part of DC history both before and during the "New 52" reboot. It centers on a character named Krona who became obsessed with observing the origins of the universe.
Krona figured out a way to go back in time far enough to see the universe's origins, and he glimpsed the "hand" of creation (no, really, he saw a hand - DC's version of God in this story).
But at the moment the universe was created, his time-ship exploded, and that resulted in the creation of an opposite Anti-Matter Universe.
There's much more to Krona's story, but for the purpose of this series, the key things to remember are:
1) Krona was so obsessed about finding something that he really messed things up (remind you of someone in Metal? Hint: He wears a cowl).
2) According to Metal, Krona viewed this at the "very core of the universe," a terminology that comes up later when the Immortals come up with their crazy plan.
Anti-Monitor's Astral Brain
Later in the story, readers hear about the aforementioned "astral brain" plan, hatched by a group of immortal DC characters.
First, who's the Anti-Monitor?
Well, the villain's history (which has evolved through different stories) also involved a character who peered at the origins of the universe. But instead of interacting with life and positive matter, this character touched the Anti-Life Equation and came to embody anti-matter.
He became the Anti-Monitor, and in various DC stories, he devoured worlds in the Multiverse.
In the 2016 storyline "Darkseid War" inside Geoff Johns' Justice League run, the Anti-Monitor was destroyed. And presumably, so was his brain.
However, this is an "astral" brain, which refers to the idea of astral projections, a sort of out-of-body experience. So this isn't Anti-Monitor's actual brain, but some sort of astral projection of his brain.
How the immortals obtained an astral version of the character's brain has not been explained, and its properties are unknown. But the implication from the dialogue is that the Anti-Monitor's brain is connected to the Anti-Matter Universe somehow, perhaps even the Anti-Life Equation that was once associated with the Anti-Monitor.
Keep in mind that we're dealing with matter (in the known Multiverse), anti-matter (in the Anti-Matter Universe associated with the Anti-Monitor) and dark matter (associated with the Dark Multiverse).
The immortals seem to believe that the anti-matter connected to Anti-Monitor's astral brain will interact somehow with the dark matter of the Dark Multiverse - and it will destroy the Dark Multiverse.
Or something like that.
Core and Rock
But first, that astral brain must be "fired" through the core of the Multiverse. Since Snyder already used the term "core" in this issue to refer to the place and time where Krona saw the universe being created, this term probably refers to that concept.
However, the plan also calls for the astral brain to be thrust toward the Rock of Eternity.
On DC's Map of the Multiverse (which showed up in Metal #1), the Rock of Eternity was mapped right near the center of the Multiverse's structure, which implies it sits at its "core." So perhaps these two concepts are linked, and the "core" will come to mean something more closely connected to the Rock of Eternity.
So what was the Rock of Eternity in past DC mythology?
Traditionally, the Rock of Eternity is the home of the Wizard who gave the powers of "SHAZAM" to young Billy Batson. (The wizard's name used to be Shazam, but in recent DC continuity, he's just known as the Wizard.) The Rock of Eternity has also served as a prison to the Seven Deadly Sins.
In the past, the Rock of Eternity was a focal point for magic in the DC Universe. And as previously mentioned, it has been shown having a central position of importance in the Multiverse, according to the DC Map of the Multiverse.
This isn't Metal's first reference to the Wizard and the powers of Shazam. The Wizard showed up in Dark Days: The Casting with a dagger of Nth Metal that also possessed the "power of Shazam."
That artifact established a connection between Shazam (of the Rock of Eternity) and Nth Metal (associated with the Dark Multiverse).
What It Means
So although the plan suggested in Metal #2 sounds pretty off-the-wall, the elements involved all appear to be related to matter and anti-matter, as well as magic and metal.
But will the plan work? That's up to Snyder. But whatever happens, the experience will be emotional, the writer told Newsarama. "when that comes to fruition, it's one of the most painful moments in the series. I just wrote it. It's in issue #5. The way that plan goes is really painful to some characters. There's a betrayal involved. All kinds of stuff."
Dark Nights: Metal #3 is scheduled for release October 11.