For so many issues, I’ve attempted to figure out what hasn’t sat well with me about Dark Nights: Death Metal. Part of my issue is that this event is clearly the latest DC “Crisis,” but it feels like the publisher is afraid to call it such. The next is that there’s very little “metal” about the comic, let alone “death metal” as it was promoted. But, it’s with Dark Nights: Death Metal #4 where I think it has clicked what hasn’t worked for me.
The comic, the event as a whole, feels like all of the weird alternative Batman figures Kenner would release for films. Arctic Batman. Toxic Sewage Batman. Urban Commando Batman. All I wanted was Batman. The comic is much like that throwing out concepts left and right without much explanation or depth beyond “they exist”. Like those 1990s toys, Dark Night: Death Metal feels like gattling gun of concepts, many of which don’t feel like they fit the “voice” or even together. Some may enjoy that but there’s a point where too little explanation or ideas too out there begin to stand out and seem a little silly.
Dark Nights: Death Metal #4 opens with a recap of what you might have missed. Yes, four issues in and it already needs to catch up readers. That’s because important events have occurred outside of the series in a few one-shots. I questioned those one-shots existing and not being part of the main story and still do. The fact they need to be recapped makes me as a reader feel like I’m not far off in that feeling. Things are desperate at this point. How do we know? Our narrator, the head of Sgt. Rock, tells us.
Writer Scott Snyder doesn’t hide what he’s going for in this issue. It’s the part of the story where things are darkest. They look bleak for our heroes with the odds against them and a chance they may lose. Dark Nights: Death Metal #4 is rather predictable like that, unfortunately. The twists, the turns, it’s all easy to see from a mile away. There’s little surprising about the issue which serves as a bridge from the previous arc to what comes next. And what comes next might be interesting. Maybe. We’ll see. So, this issue feels like a necessity to get us to the next story arc.
A lot of the issue revolves around Superboy Prime who has Wonder Woman hostage and is part of The Batman Who Laughs’ plan. Unless you’re really invested into the character, the fact so much of the comic might fall flat. It does for me. He’s a bad guy. I know he’s important in DC history. But, I have no connection to him. And that again reminds me of an issue of so many DC events like this. Unless you really know DC’s history, there’s going to be key moments or characters that just stumble. It rewards long-time readers more so than new readers and there’s a bit where that tilts too far. DC often tilts too far in the “long time reader” direction.
The art by Greg Capullo continues to be the more interesting aspect of the series. There’s a lot packed in at times and some solid switching of styles at times. Batman being torn part is one of the most interesting visual aspects of the entire series so far. Jonathan Glapion handles the ink while FCO Plascencia handles colors with Tom Napolitano on lettering. The art is good, though there’s moments that just don’t ring visually. When a key part of the plan doesn’t work the art doesn’t evoke the moment enough. The final panel reveal doesn’t have the punch it should. For every interesting thing like a world shattered, there’s something that falls flat.
Dark Nights: Death Metal #4 just generally falls flat. The comic is predictable far too often. There’s parts are non-sensical at times, a big moment being when our heroes are freed (not really a spoiler). It’s a ride though that focuses on desperation and delivering that emotion to the readers to get them interested. It’s a chapter in the bigger story and will be completely fine as such in a popcorn read sort of way. On it’s own though, it just doesn’t quite work for me.
Story: Scott Snyder Art: Greg Capullo
Ink: Jonathan Glapion Color: FCO Plascencia Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.15 Recommendation: Read
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review