Dark Nights: Metal #5
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion and FCO Plascencia
Lettering by Steve Wands
Published by DC Comics
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
The elegant multiverse that Julius Schwartz and Gardner Fox first began to carve out in the 1960s gave DC Comics infinite possibilities in storytelling. So Scott Snyder’s concept of a Dark Multiverse, in which fleeting nightmares become reality, is one of the most exciting things to happen to the DCU since the last reboot. And as we hit the penultimate issue of Dark Nights: Metal, things couldn’t possibly get any darker. After all, this is an issue that tells us exactly how many kickable butts Starro has.
The issue picks up immediately after the events of Dark Nights: Metal #4, with Superman and Batman confronting a monstrous Carter Hall in the Forge of Worlds. The various members of the Justice League are scattered across the multiverse, working on the assumption that there is still enough hope left in the infinite worlds to show the way forward. The audience at this stage may be wondering the same thing. For both cohorts, the answer may be uncomfortably negative.
The much-touted return of Martian Manhunter brings one of the few moments of joy into an increasingly inky series. The character has been missing since the start of DC’s "Rebirth" in 2016, and here he is directly responsible for restoring some of Green Lantern’s willpower. It’s the briefest of cameos in the end, and perhaps a microcosm of the whole series. In Dark Nights: Metal, any semblance of light ultimately casts a very long series of shadows.
Which is where we are at in this otherwise excellent series. That old expression about the night being darkest just before the dawn appears to apply to the second-to-last issue of event series as well. Page after page shows heroes attempting to climb to victory, only to be literally bludgeoned over the head in several cases with a harsh dose of dark reality. While this is par for the course in any major event, there are times when it feels less like treading water than it does drowning. Nevertheless, this is precisely the feeling one would want to have on the verge of a major shift in the DCU.
Dark Nights: Metal is the series that Greg Capullo was born to illustrate. From the opening page, the twisted and stylized Barbatos is wrapped around a spire like Todd McFarlane’s nightmare of a Batman. Having worked alongside Snyder for so long on the primary Batman title, his true Bruce Wayne is a mere husk that carries the weight of his collective run and all of Wayne’s guilt. Outside of dark Batmen, Capullo also has a lot of fun crafting twisted versions of the other heroes as well, such as a Cheetah in Wonder Woman’s armor. The final lightning-strike of a panel pays homage to a classic moment in Dark Knight history.
Several months and almost 20 issues into this event, Snyder has certainly kept the wheels of hopelessness spinning for what’s left of our heroes. As the second act of this potentially universe-changing saga comes to a close, there is a battle cry that heralds a sweeping finale. Yet having only moved inches since the end of the fourth issue, we’re left wondering how the light can possibly find its way back into the multiverse after all this darkness has permeated its shiniest of beacons.