Detective Chimp and Grant Morrison fans, rejoice! Both play pivotal roles in Dark Knights Rising: The Wild Hunt, a one-shot that acts as the penultimate chapter of obscure DC Comic character and evil version of Batman filled “Metal” crossover. Morrison is joined by writers/DC architects Scott Snyder, James Tynion, and Joshua Williamson and a blockbuster art team of Howard Porter, Jorge Jimenez, Doug Mahnke, Jamie Mendoza, Hi-Fi, Alejandro Sanchez, and Wil Quintana to show the last stand of the multiverse against the Dark Multiverse and its metal album cover Batmen. You might want to dust off that copy of Final Crisis or at least check out the Wiki page of The Bleed before diving into this one-shot. The Batman: Red Death one-shot helps the emotional beats land.
The Wild Hunt has several gears it hits. There’s the Morrisonian multiversal technobabble that gets dropped pretty early on and thankfully is roasted by mad scientists, like T.O. Morrow and Sivana, who are apparently good guys in this crossover. This is when the book is at its least fun. However, it’s entertaining when the writers say “Screw it!” and let Porter, Jimenez, and Mahnke cut loose with super cool double page splashes that show these high (As balls.) concept in action. Some personal visual highlights include Jimenez’s manga meets speed lines pages of Raven interfacing with and then empathizing with The Bleed (Barrier between universes.) and then throwing down a kick-ass one-liner with a purple background. There’s also Porter’s ballad of Red Death, who gets a golden makeover and a little redemption in a decent homage to Crisis on Infinite Earths down to his final fate. (Maybe, you should read that comic too before taking on this one.)
The third gear of Wild Hunt, and honestly I blame Morrison for this one, is pure comics kookiness embodied by the first and final pages of the book. (I think they were drawn by Mahnke and Mendoza, but don’t quote me because his style blends well.) Morrison and Mahnke retell the origin story of Detective Chimp and gets a little metafictional by including the map from Multiversity and the sheet music from Superman’s song in Final Crisis. These panels feel like a couple of old rockers digging into their greatest hits before the last third of the comics hits, and they realize they need a new hit single to get the fans on their feet again. (In light of the event of Wild Hunt #1, this comic could be taken literally or metaphorically.)
However, I don’t think they stick the landing and going for wacky for the sake of wackiness instead of something poignant. I do find the idea of Detective Chimp as a kind of ersatz furry Batman to be fascinating, and he gets a full Hero’s Journey in Wild Hunt #1 as he comes to grips with using the vast knowledge of the DC multiverse stored underneath his deer stalker. (The origin for his trademark headwear gave me all the feels.) He wants to be hopeful and look up in the sky, but hell is opening up at his feet. Chimp is piddling around a keyboard and trying to find a tune to save the world, and hell, he might have found it. Also, his piano playing is a nice throughline between Morrison’s work on Final Crisis and Snyder’s on Metal because a shared superhero universe is a neverending symphony of players, characters and creators both.
With searing multiversal land (and sound)scapes from Howard Porter, Jorge Jimenez, and Doug Mahnke; enchanting and frightening colors from Hi-Fi, Alejandro Sanchez, and Wil Quintana; and a very Grant Morrison, The Wild Hunt #1 is a decent setup to the Metal finale even though the last few pages will either make you laugh nervously or do a hard eye roll.
Story: Scott Snyder, Grant Morrison, James Tynion IV, Josh Williamson Art: Howard Porter, Jorge Jimenez, Doug Mahnke with Jamie Mendoza
Colors: Hi-Fi, Alejandro Sanchez, Wil Quintana
Story: 7.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review