Credit: DC Comics
We have arrived at last to the finale of my review of Dark Nights: Metal. For this final part, we will be covering the main series 1-6. The heroes of the DC universe have been pushed to the absolute limits of their abilities by the dark multiverse and the nightmare Batmen. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have brought their epic story to an explosive conclusion that will leave the Justice League, and the entire DC universe forever changed. Spoiler Alert for Dark Nights: Metal 1-6. You have been warned. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 here.
Dark Nights: Metal #1
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have bee working on Batman together since the start of the New 52 relaunch way back in 2011. Many fans regard this as not only one of the best modern Batman runs, but the best the New 52 had to offer. Metal represents the finale of all they were building to during the 52 issues and three annuals of Batman. The finale shows us right away that it has much larger implications for the DC Universe. Issue one introduces us to the concept of the dark multiverse, a dark reflection of the matter and anti-matter universe where worlds are born into existence. Some world rise and become part of the known multiverse, while some dark worlds are broken down and returned to the world forge. Kendra explains all of this to the Justice League and tries to capture Batman as she believes he is the doorway to darkness. Obviously, this doesn’t work and Bruce gets away with the metal he has been searching for, Nth Metal, a substance that has some connection to the dark multiverse. The final pages of this first issue introduce us to the journal of Carter Hall, Hawkman, which he left hidden in Wayne manor. Carter knew if anyone would be able to solve this mystery it would be Bruce. In the final moments, Bruce gets help form an unlikely ally, the Dream of the Endless, who tells Bruce that things are much worse than he thinks.
Dark Nights: Metal #2
The second issue opens with the Justice League and their allies trying to locate Bruce and stop him before the prophecy comes to light. Batman’s allies do their best to distract the League, but ultimately Superman catches and confronts Bruce. This turns out to be Clayface in disguise, but he does explain the connection to Snyder’s Batman run. Barbatos, the dark bat god, has been watching Bruce since he went back in time during Grant Morrison’s The Return of Bruce Wayne mini-series. Bruce is being prepared for something called the mantling, which involves him being exposed to five heavy metals. This connects back to the New 52 as Bruce has already been exposed to Electrum, while he was lost in the Court of Owls labyrinth, Dionesium, when he fought Joker to the death, Promethium, when Bruce got his memory back and Nth Metal, when he attempted to see the dark multiverse. Kendra proves that she will do whatever it takes to protect this universe as she allies herself with what can only be called the Legion of Doom, as it is being led by Vandal Savage. Batman believes the way to stop this involves going back in time with the help of baby Darkseid’s omega beams. It turns out to all have been a trap set by the Court of Owls to lure Bruce to the tomb of Hath-Set and expose him to the final metal Batmanium. Batman is taken away and returned in his place are Barbatos and his seven nightmare Batmen who immediately take down Superman and Wonder Woman.
Dark Nights: Metal #3
Superman thinks that Bruce is reaching out to him through a series of musical notes he hears in a vision. An alphabetical trinity, B-C-D, Bruce, Clark and Diana. Clark has his first confrontation with the dark Batmen and finds out very quickly that he is no match for villains that have the intelligence of Bruce Wayne but none of the morals. Ultimately, Clark and several other heroes are whisked away by Doctor Fate to the Oblivion Bar, an outpost hidden in a pocket dimension. There, they discuss the fact that they need the various metals to have any chance of fighting the darkness. Since Challenger’s mountain has appeared in Gotham, the metals have been vibrating at a frequency that the magical attuned characters, like Doctor Fate, are able to pick up. Fate believes these frequencies point to locations where the metals will be found, Atlantis, Deep Space and the center of the Multiverse. Mr. Terrific say that the loudest frequency is coming from the darkness, which Superman thinks means they need Bruce, who they believe to be trapped in the dark multiverse. Flash is able to vibrate at different dimensional frequencies and believes he can get Clark to the darkness. The teams are set, Diana, Kendra and Fate will head to the center of the multiverse, Lantern, Terrific and Plastic Man will explore deep space and Aquaman and Deathstroke will head to Atlantis. In the closing pages of this issue we see that all of these vibrations are leading back to darkness as Superman walks right into a trap. The servants of Barbatos were waiting for Clark, who they need to sink the Earth into darkness. The notes that Clark though were a plea for help from Bruce were actually a warning to stay away.
Dark Nights: Metal #4
The fourth issue of the story finally gives us answers about the true purpose of the dark multiverse. We know that two universes exist, Matter and Anti-Matter, and that the monitors were birthed to watch over them. A third called the Over Monitor would watch over what was yet to come. This monitor presides over the world forge where the hopes and fears of all living things give birth to many new worlds. Stable worlds would rise while twisted unstable worlds were destroyed by a great dragon. The dragon, Barbatos, killed its master and began letting worlds that should have been dissolved live on. This darkened the forge and gave birth to the nightmare Batmen. Dream has a vested interest in helping stop this as it has started to burn the library of dreams, which will ultimately consume all of reality. The rest of the issues shows the traps that Barbatos has led the League into and the betrayal of Kendra Saunders. The villains have struck a deal with Barbatos because they believe he can’t be stopped. The last chance the heroes have to stop all of this is at the world forge. Unfortunately, the forge has darkened and is guarded by Carter Hall, the former Hawkman, who is now a slave to Barbatos. As the dark god says, “All roads lead back….to darkness.”
Dark Nights: Metal #5
All the Justice League’s plans have failed, and everything they’ve done has only helped the dark Batmen succeed in their plan to bring the Earth down into the dark multiverse. The penultimate issue does a fantastic job setting up the finale. Clark and Bruce continue to search for a spark of light in the forge. Bruce finds that spark by reminding the dark hawk that Carter Hall was a hero that dies a valiant death. This reminds the monster that deep inside is still that great hero igniting the forge. Superman and Batman dive in seemingly to their deaths in a last ditch effort to save the universe from the darkness. A face from the past comes back to help Lantern and Terrific escape from Starro’s dungeons on Thanagar, Martian Manhunter. Unfortunately, this rescue comes to little, to late as the Phoenix Cannon on Thanagar that should raise the Earth has been reversed by Barbatos’ minions to sink it instead. A small bit of hope arises in the form of Hawkman’s mace, now claimed by Wonder Woman, who uses it to knock some sense into Kendra. They return to earth just in time to see it sink and be invaded by the denizens of the dark multiverse. With a mighty war cry, Diana and Kendra prepare to face this threat head on.
Dark Nights: Metal #6
The finale opens with Wonder Woman and Lady Blackhawk (Kendra) facing the darkness head on. Diana unites the heroes that are left and Plastic Man makes his triumphant return and turns the tide of the battle. While the rest of the heroes distract the dark reflections of themselves, Wonder Woman and Blackhawk head to the forge. Kendra reminds the dark hawk of who he really is and a battle ensues between him and his master, Barbatos. Wonder Woman wastes no more time and dives into the world forge. This gamble pays of as Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman emerge from the forge wearing armor made from the tenth metal, the metal used to forge the worlds, and quickly give armor to the other members of the League. The tide is turned and Barbatos tells the Batman Who Laughs to enact the final plan. That plan consists of using the Anti-Monitors astral brain, the life of the Over-Monitor and the life of the Batman Who Laughs to destroy the multiverse leaving only the dark matter universe. The confrontation we have all been waiting for finally happens as Batman confronts the dark laughing reflection of himself. He seems to be no match for the Batman Who Laughs until he does something unexpected, teaming up with the Joker. Joker and the Batman Who Laughs continue to fight as the cavern collapses around them, seemingly burying them alive. The Over-Monitor tells the heroes how to use the tenth metal to reach out to every living thing in the multiverse and raise the Earth. This much power has a terrible side effect as the source wall, the barrier surrounding the multiverse, is shattered, opening up the universes to the dangers beyond. Once again Barbatos is imprisoned in the dark realm, serving the purpose he was made for, destroying worlds that should not exist. Bruce assembles the League at Wayne manor to discuss the plans for the future. Those plans include rebuilding the Hall of Justice, which will lead right into Scott Snyder’s new Justice League book coming later this year. This story, and the 52 Batman issues that preceded it, will go down in history as a defining moment in Batman’s history.