Spoilers ahead for this week's Dark Nights: Metal #6.
As writer Scott Snyder promised, the end of Dark Nights: Metal has shaken up the DCU and unleashed threats and new heroes from throughout the DC cosmos to set up future stories.
As the dust settled after a massive team-up to save the Earth, the Source Wall had been broken, the World Forge had been restored (but needs a forger), and Lucien's library was missing one of its books.
So how did it go down? Let's take a look…
Who's In Those Bandages?
As the book opens, the creepy red narration is provided by the Batman Who Laughs - a character that's one of the breakouts of the book (and coming soon to The Immortal Men title, according to solicitations).
He's speaking to the mysterious bandaged figure that Batman Who Laughs brought with him to Earth early in the series. He's unwrapping the bandages from the unknown character's eyes.
Meanwhile, Wonder Woman is fighting the hordes from the Dark Multiverse, including countless dark versions of herself. Beside her is Kendra Saunders, and the two are trying to reach the summit of Challengers Mountain, where Wonder Woman's Justice League teammates are.
Wonder Woman has been banging her bracelets, hoping her teammates hear her, but Kendra suggests that she use Hawkman's mace instead, since it's made of Ninth Metal (instead of the Eighth Metal of her bracelets).
She slams the mace against her bracelet. The other characters hear her, including Mr. Terrific, Aquaman, Green Lantern, and Deathstroke.
Mr. Terrific calls out to Plastic Man, telling him it's time to wake up and help.
And he does. Plastic Man lives!
In fact, as Plastic Man awakens, the multitude of shapes he makes take out so many evil attackers that he creates a path through which Wonder Woman and Kendra pass.
Plastic Man tells the two women that they need to go into the portal through which Barbatos' armies arrived. Because of his connection to the metal, he senses that portal will take them to the source, where they may be able to defeat Barbatos.
Kendra convinces Wonder Woman to take the lead (because of Diana's connection to "truth" and Kendra's dangerous connection to dark metal). But when the two get to the Forge of Worlds, Kendra sees Carter and calls out to him.
Carter recognizes her, which ticks off Barbatos. He strikes down Hawkman.
But surprise! Cyborg, the Flash and Raven have arrived in the Ultima Thule (that wacky Grant Morrison-esque music ship), bringing characters of the 53rd Earth and the House of Heroes with them (see Dark Knights Rising: The Wild Hunt for more of that craziness).
Barbatos is distracted enough that Wonder Woman can make her next move. She guesses that Batman and Superman might be down in the liquid metal, so she dives into it and emerges with them, pulling them out with her Golden Lasso.
Superman and Batman are all young looking and refreshed as Wonder Woman rescues them. And all three of them are wearing brand new armor.
As if that's not wild enough…
Their shiny new armor is made out of "Tenth Metal," Batman says. And Batman has one drop of Tenth Metal left in his palm.
Although Barbatos has disabled the Thule, Cyborg has a plan. He tells Batman to take the drop of Tenth Metal to the summit of the mountain where he saw the Cosmic Tuning Fork. He believes Batman can use the Tuning Fork to channel the Tenth Metal.
(Yeah, I don't really understand this stuff either, but this is comic books, dagnabbit! The heroes go for it because, of course they do!)
As the hordes of Barbatos' army attacks the Trinity, Superman tells Batman to hop on his back so the three of them can fly to the summit. But Batman finds a better way. He punches a Joker dragon and jumps on its back, taking control of the creature.
You read that right. Batman is flying on a Joker dragon.
(Seriously... comic books!)
The narration from Hawkman's journal returns.
Readers are told that the Eighth Metal is the "stuff of gods. The Ninth uses dark energy to give its carrier powers that defy physics. But the 10th, also called Element X, is metal of the so-called Forge itself."
Apparently, this Element X creates stuff with just a word. Batman uses it to make batarangs, and he throws them toward other heroes.
Those heroes are suddenly clad in Tenth Metal armor. This Element X is potent stuff, man!
As Batman yells "Hee-Yah!" on his Joker dragon, Wonder Woman summons all other heroes to the mountain. Doctor Fate shows up and frees the people trapped there, while Green Arrow helps Steel escape and the Bat-family reacts to the sight of Batman clad in Tenth Metal armor.
As Nightwing puts it, Batman is "riding a Joker dragon and glowing … because of course he is."
Comic books, people!
Screams and Bandages
So Hawkman's narration now informs the reader that the cry of Barbatos is the "wail of billions of failed worlds." And all the creature has to do to lower the Earth into darkness is open his mouth and let out the "anti-music" of his scream.
So, with the heroes fighting back, Barbatos opens his mouth and starts to scream.
But he's struck down almost as soon as he opens his mouth.
Carter Hall swings the giant forging hammer he's been wielding in this series and slams it into Barbatos' chest.
That puts an end to that.
But Barbatos has one final plan up his decaying evil sleeve. The bandaged figure!
The Batman Who Laughs pulls off the final bandage and ta-da!
It's the cosmic overseer, the Over-Monitor.
The Batman Who Laughs says the Monitor "only just started to re-form after the last multiversal crisis."
OK, so that's a fun Morrison-esque surprise. But what's the final plan?
Well, the Batman Who Laughs and his Robins also have the astral brain of the Anti-Monitor.
Remember how, in Metal #2, Kendra warned about the dangers of mixing anti-matter and dark matter?
Yeah, you can imagine what's about to go down.
The Batman Who Laughs hooks the astral brain of the Anti-Monitor (with his negative energy) and the Over-Monitor (with his positive energy) to a mysterious machine, where he'll connect it to the Batman Who Laughs (with his dark energy).
And they'll blow apart the realm above.
From Over-Monitor's scared reaction, this plan is apparently a good one.
Best Bat-Fight Ever?
But wait! Batman shows up in the Batman Who Laugh's Batcave. "Crow crow crow," the Jokerized Robins say as they obey the order to attack. Unfortunately, Batman's Tenth Metal armor will not work "down here," the Batman Who Laughs says, because the "energy cancels it out."
Batman quickly eliminates the threat of the Batman Who Laughs' Robins with a gas pellet. He punches the Batman Who Laughs, who punches him back in the exact same way. Their battle isn't going well for Bruce, because his opponent anticipates his every move. He knows Bruce too well, because technically, he's Bruce too.
But Batman is always prepared, right?
You bet your sweet bippy he is. As the Batman Who Laughs holds a gun to Batman's head, the Joker shows up and shoots the Batman Who Laughs.
And readers get an awesome Joker/Batman team-up to take down the the Batman who Laughs.
In the end, Joker appears to defeat the the Batman Who Laughs.
Up on the surface of Earth, and thanks to their Tenth Metal armor, the heroes make it to the summit of Challengers Mountain and defeat the Nightmare Batmen. Kendra finally even defeats Barbatos himself, but the dark bat-god smashed the antenna of the Cosmic Tuning Fork before he went down.
Barbatos has apparently destroyed their last hope of getting the Earth out of the Dark.
Well, don't give up yet. Batman brings the Over-Monitor to the surface and he informs them that there's still one hope left: They can conduct the raw creative power of the Tenth Metal through the humans of Earth. They can all come together as one and raise the Earth from the depths.
Holding hands, the heroes who are wearing Tenth Metal armor channel all their energy, link with the humans of Earth, and make the glowing Earth rise back to its rightful place.
As Hawkman's narration says: In dark times, "we need each other to find our way back home."
Hooray! The Earth is back where it belongs! The forces of evil are defeated!
One problem, though. The power of that Tenth Metal armor (and the good vibes of humanity) reached all the way to the Source Wall.
And they broke the Source Wall.
After the End
The epilogue reveals that the heroes are all chummy with Bruce again.
Barbatos is trapped in chains forged by the Over-Monitor himself.
There's also a hint about the World Forge "waiting for the true forger's return." (Yeah, where did that original forger dude go?)
The House of Heroes is being rebuilt, preparing for the "new worlds that may rise to meet it."
Oh, and one more thing. Although the "library for impossible stories" has stopped burning, one of the books is missing. And Dream himself is also missing.
Hawkman's alive and well, resting on Blackhawks Island with the Metal Men and Red Tornado. But before Hawkman started that rest, he wrote some stuff in his journal that has the Justice League worried.
Hawkman wrote down visions in his journal, and readers are shown teases for various upcoming stories:
- The "Darkstars Rising" story beginning in the next issue of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps…
- "The Dark Gods" storyline that starts in May's Wonder Woman #46…
- And the Wally-versus-Barry battle coming up in "Flash War."
- The art also depicts the new heroes who are being featured in the "New Age of DC Heroes" line.
- There's also a prediction that Atlantis will rise out of the ocean.
- And another prediction shows that Earth is going to be visited by some Kirby-looking ginormous creatures (the Old Gods?).
This stuff is going down because, as mentioned above, the Source Wall was destroyed. (And just as a side note, aren't there several villains that were trapped there? Like Superboy Prime, and Black Hand…?)
Back on Earth, Kendra is acting like she's now part of the Justice League team. And so is Martian Manhunter. But then, we already knew that from teases for Snyder's Justice League. As the group celebrates their victory, they join a slew of other DC heroes in a huge party.
But the Trinity slips out of the party, talking about how they're going to have to "rethink everything."
Bruce says he has a "plan," as he takes Clark and Diana into his office, where the blueprints for the Hall of Justice sit on his desk.