With the finale of Dark Nights: Metal pushed back to the end of the March, and this month's Dark Knights Rising: The Wild Hunt serving as the last issue before the ending, readers have a stage set for several weeks of waiting for the story's conclusion.
Metal, the event series by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, has already spawned spin-offs - some of which spoil the ending of the series for at least a few characters. For example, Mr. Terrific and Plastic Man will emerge unscathed, apparently, because they're starring in the upcoming series The Terrifics.
But when Metal finally does get around to finishing its six-issue story in March, there are quite a few loose threads to tie up. Not only does the Earth have to be prevented from descending into the Dark Multiverse, but the evil bat-god Barbatos and his Dark Knights Batmen have to be defeated.
For the latest in our series of "Dark Nights 101" articles, here are few other story threads - besides saving the Earth itself - that still need tied up in Dark Nights: Metal #6.
Dark Monitor's Astral Brain
In Dark Nights: Metal #2, when Kendra was visiting the immortals, Morgaine le Fey tells her they came up with a plan: "You will take the Anti-Monitor's astral brain and you will fire it through the core of the Multiverse, at the Rock of Eternity, and destroy the Dark Multiverse once and for all."
That plan appeared again in later issues, as Kendra Saunders pulled out the Anti-Monitor's astral brain while she was inside the Rock of Eternity.
When Newsarama asked Snyder (after the publication of issue #4) about the future of the brain, he said: "The brain's still there. It comes back in issue #5. And it's in #6. So his brain plays a big part."
Escape of Hawkman
Hawkman's journal has played a bigger part in Metal than the character himself, with stories from the Hawk characters' history and warning about the dangers of the mysterious heavy metals.
But in issue #4, Batman and Superman found Hawkman in the World Forge, serving as this huge dragon who guards the forge that's now darkened by Barbatos. The tie-in issue Hawkman Found, by Jeff Lemire and Bryan Hitch, showed that the heroic Hawkman still exists inside his mind, but he's trapped in a loop, living the same battle over and over again.
In Metal #5, there was a clear spark of hope within the Forge when Hawkman's name was mentioned, hinting that the real Hawkman may be able to escape by the end of Metal.
And Snyder has teased more stories about the Hawks.
"There are plans rolling forward for Hawkman that kind of play off a lot of [the Hawkman Found] material and the Geoff Johns run on Hawkman and all of that. So that's all being set up as a kind of launchpad for a lot of Hawkman story coming after Metal," Snyder said.
Future of the Forge
Dark Nights: Metal has added to DC's creation story, introducing a being who was tasked to reside in the World Forge and watch over what was "yet to come."
In Hawkman Found, when Carter Hall found the Forge unmanned, he indicated that it needed tending. He unfortunately fell under the power of Barbatos, presumably because of his exposure to Nth Metal, but his desperation to oversee the World Forge hinted at a question the series has yet to answer.
After the events of Metal, if Hawkman escapes, what happens to the World Forge? Will someone new tend it?
The Forge is said to create worlds from the hopes and fears of living beings. And if those worlds become stable, they "rise into the Orrery" and become part of the Multiverse. If this Forge really needs overseen, its future after the presumed defeat of Barbatos is at risk.
Of course, the answers might come later, since Snyder told Newsarama that the beings from this new creation mythology will be touched upon after Metal finishes. "We have stories planned for it - for these mythological figures - post-Metal too," Snyder said.
Justice League Teams
At the end of Dark Nights: Metal #5, the members of the Justice League were in dire straits. Batman and Superman had been consumed by the fires of the World Forge – although, the area where they sank was lighted by some sort of hope.
Hal Jordan, Martian Manhunter, Mr. Terrific and the egg-shaped Plastic Man have just been overcome by evil Dark Knights Batmen, who are firing a tampered-with Phoenix Cannon at the Earth.
Far beneath Atlantis, at the planet's core, Aquaman and Deathstroke were being attacked by Black Manta and another group of Dark Knights Batmen.
And Wonder Woman and Kendra were fighting the dark army of Barbatos, called forth from the Dark Multiverse.
And in Dark Knights Rising: The Wild Hunt, Cyborg, the Flash, Raven and DC scientific figures on Blackhawk Island had apparently failed to contact anyone in the Multiverse for help, and had in fact been manipulated by the evil Batmen to make things worse.
The heroes will, presumably, emerge victorious, but Dark Nights: Metal #6 has a lot of fighting back to do with all these characters.
There's also a bandaged figure that Batman Who Laughs brought here. He showed up early in Metal, then in Dark Knights: Batman Who Laughs. And last week, the figure appeared again in Dark Knights Rising: The Wild Hunt.
There have been very few clues about the figure's identity. The Batman Who Laughs called the character powerful and said the figure had "cosmic eyelids." Otherwise, readers have been told very little about the character's identity.
Snyder promised the figure would play a role before the end of Dark Nights: Metal, and that "there's a plan [the Batman Who Laughs] has behind the scenes."
Dark Nights: Metal #6 is scheduled to wrap things up on March 28.