I remember “guidebooks” from back in the day. They’d be a lot of text that were more like roleplaying game supplements than comic books. And that’s what I expected with Dark Nights: Death Metal Guidebook #1. I was also really wrong about that as well. The Dark Nights: Death Metal tie-in is full of standalone stories and tales that shed more light on what has happened. It’s also a perfect guide for those that skipped “Year of the Villain” and want to catch up.
Dark Nights: Death Metal Guidebook #1 featured five stories from various creative teams and in between it has one-page guides/sketches that I was expected more of. As with all anthologies, the quality varies in story and art but this is the rare case where everything is at least good if not great. The story subjects, tones, and focus are all different delivering insight into the event.
The main chunk of the comic is made up of the “Fall of Earth”. The story goes into detail exactly what happened. While it skips some of the lead up it’s the perfect read for those who want to know what they missed. In goes into so much detail it spoils the first three issues of Dark Nights: Death Metal as well. It’s the Cliff’s Notes version of the event and when I got to the end, I felt like I had a good grasp as to what was going on and the why. None of it was Earth-shattering (pun intended) but I feel like I have a bit more of a grasp as to what’s going on now.
The other four stories focus on various heroes and villains and where they stand.
Harley Quinn gets a spotlight as she explores the irradiated wastelands and it answers some questions as to what has happened to some villains while raising questions as well. Aquaman is the most intriguing of the stories as it shows a former King subjugated and folded to protect his people. We learn more about Wonder Woman and her jail of villains. The story is the highlight of the comic delivering an emotional punch. Wrapping it up is a story featuring Batman, Jonah Hex, and the Joker Dragon. While the overall story is the weakest of the bunch it also has some key details that will impact the main story. There’s a reason Hex was chosen by Batman and something he must do if things go sideways.
The art is pretty solid all around. The styles vary a bit but none of it varies too much from each other. It’s unique but cohesive at the same time. All of it is good across the board and each has its moments that’ll leave you lingering. With a limited amount of pages to work with, the art is key to tell the story and bring emotion.
Dark Nights: Death Metal Guidebook #1 is a one-shot tie-in that really works. While it feels like it should have come out earlier in the event, it does a great job of acting as a starting point for those who missed the first three issues. It answers a lot of questions and also drops some key hints for the main story as well. It’s a spin-off that feels as vital as any main event issue.
Story: Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Joshua Williamson, Chip Zdarsky, Becky Cloonan, Vita Ayala, Christopher Priest
Art: Doug Mahnke, Khary Randolph, Becky Cloonan, Dan Panosian, Eduardo Risso
Ink: Jamie Mendoza
Color: David Baron, Emilio Lopez, Tamra Bonvillain, Luis Guerrero, Eduardo Risso
Lettering: Tom Napolitano, Dave Sharpe, Steve Wands, Ferran Delgado, Willie Schubert
Story: 8.15 Art: 8.15 Overall: 8.15 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review