Saturday, August 26, 2017

Comic Book Review: Dark Nights-Metal #1

By: Jerry Montgomery 
August 20, 2017

Dark Nights: Metal #1

Written by: Scott “Doom Commander” Snyder

Pencils by: Greg “Pain Bringer" Capullo

Wayne Industries is operating a secret black drilling site deep within the ocean near Atlantis. Superman's Fortress of Solitude houses a secret locked room for Batman that the Man of Steel has sworn not to look in. The Batcave has a cave that houses an unthinkable secret and what or who is locked away in Batman's lunar base? What does this all mean? What path is the Batman undertaking and why is he doing so covertly? Thus began DC's blockbuster summer event detailed in the first prelude issue to Nights, Dark Days: The Forge. The mystery of the Nth Metal,  the very stuff responsible for Hawkman's power of flight and ability to reincarnate time and time again throughout the ages, came to light, thanks to the journal of Hawkman himself, Carter Hall. He has seen terrifying dreams…no, not dreams…visions of things to come that echo through the metal. A nightmare world in which a colossal statue of the Batman rises before a subjugated people, crushed beneath the symbol of the Bat. Through his research and further study of the Nth metal, Carter Hall discovers that it conducts a powerful energy from somewhere…beyond. Following every clue, he is offered a glimpse of  a story that began with the first tribes of man. Three, or rather four and a secret that included him as part of something bigger and beyond his control. Three tribes of man at the beginning of civilization, bird, bear and wolf, with a fourth destructive and invasive…the bat. Two tribes, the bird and bat, forever at war with one another.

As for those secrets that Batman has locked away, it seems he's detected an anomaly deep within the core of the Earth, hiding in it's magma. Within the secret locked room of the Fortress of Solitude,  Miracle Man is called upon by Batman to reveal a part of the Anti-Monitor's machines. Housed within Batman's lunar base in the unstable Plastic Man in an egg shaped holding container and the secret Batcave within the Batcave? What secrets does it hold? Deep within the labyrinthine construct stands the Joker (or at least one of them). They all hold some part to play in Batman's quest to peer into the darkness.  All of this certainly hasn't gone unnoticed however, as Hal Jordan, the Immortal Men, the Blackhawks and Mr. Terrific all have their parts to play in this puzzle.

Dark Days: The Casting #1

In the next installment, Dark Days: The Casting, the mystery deepened as Batman sought the aid of the Olympian Gods themselves, but finds they have abandoned Earth due to a belief that a war is coming. A war that has the potential to reshape the Earth and the cosmos, bringing with it a crisis that will threaten to extinguish the light of creation. Batman feels it too. The shadows call out to him, yet he cannot make out what they are saying. In the meantime,  Duke Thomas and Hal Jordan have their own problems as they try to sort out just why Batman would imprison one of the most dangerous villains on the planet without telling anyone? The Joker claims that he has to stop Batman from using his machines to dig any deeper or it will be the end of the world. How does he know this? He claims to have done it all before…that Batman has been tracking the metal within anyone containing it in their blood stream. The Joker then makes the startlingly revelation that Duke Thomas, aka Batwing was chosen by Batman because he is special.  Special as in not to be a Robin but special to act as a signal for the darkness to hone in on. Therefore, for the Joker to save the world, Duke must die to snuff out the beacon and with it, stop the dark forces drawn to it. Almost funny, isn't it? The Joker as the good guy? Green Lantern and Duke are able to finally overcome a driven Joker only to let him escape as Duke begins to feel what the Joker was talking…a pull on the base of his spine from something unseen...out there. 

Batman arrives to explain his digging machine and his quest to solve the mystery of the Nth metal. Whomever it comes in contact with is effected differently, bestowing upon them great powers. Duke, using Hal's ring, is able to create in light, a machine that Batman had envisioned that would allow him to peer into the darkness and finally get his answer. Manning this machine of light, he gets his look and collapses after trying. He disappointedly exclaims that all he was able to see was nothing, only a black void. Unbeknownst to Batman, he put 50000 years of waiting into motion. The seal has been broken, the Dark Knights arise and with them, the true father of Batman.

In Dark Nights: Metal #1, the story begins as the members of the Justice League find them fighting gladiator style on the intergalactic villain, Mongul’s new warworld. Just how this happened isn't exactly outlined especially since the last time we saw Mongul he was jettisoned into space, courtesy of General Zod’s fist in Action Comics #957. Any fan of the old Voltron cartoon series, Power Rangers  or if you're old school, Battle of the Planets, will especially enjoy the outcome as the Justice League dispatches Mongul with the help of the Toymaker. Call this our story's Mulligan as the real interest begins upon the League's arrival back on Earth to find Gotham City in a state of panic. It seems a huge chunk of mountain appeared out of nowhere smack dab in the middle of it. All is not what it seems though. Something lies inside the mountain and meant for more nefarious purposes than  what can be seen at face value. A bunker in which a lab is placed with outdated technology but advanced in design, coursing with a disturbing power. A power that courses throughout the place and not the good kind. It takes the arrival of Lady Blackhawk and her Blackhawk Squadron, a sort of black-ops, anti-apocalyptic watchdog group to explain just what is going on in an apocalyptic kind of way. Oh, did I mention that Lady Blackhawk was once Hawkwoman? So, you can imagine her interest in what goes down here goes back…way back.

 Many characters within the DCU attuned to the Nth metal can feel something coming and it's already on it's way. Batman's discovery of the many revelations through Carter Hall's journal prove to him that all that is about to transpire is all too true and further reinforced by the emergence of one of the most popular Vertigo line characters into the DCU, who assures Batman that this is no dream. Bird vs. Bat has come full circle.

The Verdict: I have always enjoyed the summer crossover events in comics and this one has been highly anticipated since it was announced several months ago. DC has imagined a whole new multiverse, albeit a dark one, steeped in Lovecraftian fashion of old forces waiting for the day to reemerge and walk the Earth again. The possibility of new stories is exciting to say the least and when you've assembled the kind of talent that's been working on this, it will be a hard series to put down in both story telling and artwork. I have especially enjoyed the use of some of DC's lesser known characters, some who haven't been seen in a long time to be given a part to play in this soon to be cross-title series, such as the android, Red Tornado and the Blackhawks. If you enjoyed the Forever Evil event of a couple summers ago or even Batman 666, you'll love this one. I recommend this issue for it's entertainment value alone but also for it's impending crossover into not only other titles,  but for cross imprints as well. This one is well worth the fiver!

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