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Review: Dark Nights: Death Metal #4

Dark Nights: Death Metal #4

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

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Preview: Dark Nights: Death Metal #4

Dark Nights: Death Metal #4

Written by: Scott Snyder
Art by: Greg Capullo

Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman are trapped in nightmare worlds within the Dark Multiverse! They’ll need to face down their fiercest foes once again if they hope to accomplish their mission and bring back a power capable of stopping the Darkest Knight. But what horrors has he unleased on Earth while they’ve been locked away?!

Dark Nights: Death Metal #4

Review: American Vampire 1976 #1

American Vampire 1976 #1

It feels like forever since I read an issue of American Vampire. While I remember the series starting off slow, it quickly became one of my favorite reads. The series showed off the talent of writer Scott Snyder and the artistic talent of Rafael Albuquerque and Dave McCaig. It’s been years… and honestly, I don’t remember a lot of it. That’s both good and bad for American Vampire 1976 #1. The good is, you generally don’t need to know what happened. The bad is, you’ll want to find out.

Snyder returns to his take on the world of vampires as the series flashes forward to 1976. It’s the bi-centennial for the United States. Though it’s 44 years ago, there are some things that are the same as today. It’s 1976, the President is a criminal, the economy is in the shitter, China is gaining, and “Russia is handing us our balls.” Add in people joining cults, kids going missing and people “kissing the devil’s ring instead of the lord’s feet,” and you could be talking about today.

It’s interesting that Snyder chose 1976 for the series to take place. While the above about how similar of a time it is today does stand out, the reality is, it’s kind of the hook as to where the comic is initially going. The comic to start is the setup of a heist.

American Vampire 1976 #1 lays out the series in a way one might expect for an Ocean’s 11 film. The key players are introduced and their personalities laid out on the table. The problem is discussed and the solution is a heist as to the answer. Much of the comic is standard in that way but it’s done with such and style and attitude, it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

But, what Snyder does that’s impressive is create a first issue that’s solid for new and old readers alike. If you remember everything that has happened, you’ll love jumping back in the world. For those that are new, there’s more than enough teased in explanations to understand what’s going on. You might not know specific characters and their connections but you get a sense what they think of each other and how they interact.

The cool of the comic is brought together through the art of Rafael Albuquerque and the colors of Dave McCaig. The comic art brings the 70s to life in its settings, clothes, and details. I can’t say how accurate the looks are, but it put me in the setting, and in the end, that’s what matters for me as a reader. The characters look like they haven’t aged a day since last I read the series, nor should they but to see their new style based on the era brings some fun with it.

What I really like about American Vampire 1976 #1 and the series as a whole is how it delivers action and the vampire aspect without going over the top. The issue has some gory fight scenes but never takes you out of the story. A head might be on the floor but it feels natural and maybe even downplays the gore a bit.

American Vampire 1976 #1 is a bit of the typical gathering of the key players story but it does it all in such an entertaining way both story-wise and look. It’s a fun reintroduction to the world of Skinner Sweet, the American Vampire, and has me wanting to go back and read what has come before. It impressively pulls off a debut that’s accessible for new readers and should excite longtime fans. Despite being years since the last chapter, American Vampire doesn’t miss a beat with its return.

Story: Scott Snyder Art: Rafael Albuquerque Color: Dave McCaig
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

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Preview: American Vampire 1976 #1

American Vampire 1976 #1

Written by: Scott Snyder
Art by: Rafael Albuquerque

America is broken. Trust between the government and the American public has crumbled. Paranoia reigns supreme. It’s 1976, and this is the concluding chapter of the Eisner Award-winning American Vampire! Skinner Sweet has exhausted all efforts to regain his lost immortality. With his powers and purpose gone, he is now determined to go out with a bang. At a seedy motorcycle rally in the desert where he’s closer than ever to his death wish, Pearl Jones and a shocking partner track him down for one last, desperate mission: The force known as the Gray Trader and its minions are tunneling through the bowels of the world to unleash hell on Earth—just in time for America’s bicentennial. With catastrophe looming, it’s up to Skinner and Pearl to reconcile and change the course of history—or die trying. The series that launched the careers of superstars Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque returns for nine final issues and the closing chapter of the legacy of American Vampire.

American Vampire 1976 #1

Review: Undiscovered Country #8

Undiscovered Country #8

A divided America full of chaos and unrest. A divided America whose ideals have been perverted and twisted. When Undiscovered Country began, the fantastical series felt much more… fantasy. As the series has progressed, each issue feels like it’s an exploration of the current American zeitgeist. Undiscovered Country #8 begins to explore the slip to technocratic solutions and the impact, both good and bad, of technology on our lives.

The group of explorers have moved on to the second of the thirteen territories and the new United States. The first was called Destiny, the second is Unity. Unity, located in the Pacific Northwest is a technocratic dreamcoat. It’s a society built on nano-technology where one has to only think to be rewarded. Buildings, plants, vehicles, everything has been consumed by an overarching, and most likely overreaching technology. It’s also a world of temptation and clear malevolence underneath.

Writers Scott Snyder and Charles Soule delivers a Willy Wonka/Wizard of Oz/Alice in Wonderland journey into a debased America. Our real-world is twisted and explored in ways that feel all to close to home as our reality plays out. While protests flood our streets and the government slides into Fascism, the abuse of technology to manipulate the populace hangs in the background. This second territory feels like that abuse taken to extremes and once again is ahead of the curve as far as topics flooding newspapers.

Much like the debut story arc, Undiscovered Country #8 continues to introduce us to the world. The concepts, basis of reality shift with each keeping readers on their toes. Unlike the more barbaric Destiny, Unity is a world of the future and what ifs? There’s also a clear nightmare waiting underneath it all and it’s a question as to when, not if, that will be revealed. The issue is also a solid entry point. Though the new arc began with the previous issue, this one is fine for new readers to explore the world as they have avatars asking questions they’ll have in the main cast of characters.

The insanity and fantastical is delivered by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Leonardo Marcello Grassi. The art is full of so much detail that it begs the readers to spend time on each page and with each panel exploring the world. Much like our main cast of characters, the visuals are our true introduction to the mystery. We’re forced to piece together what’s going on as our guide, Uncle Sam, only gives cryptic clues.

Matt Wilson does a solid job as the visuals are generally lacking in much color beyond white. With a mostly mono-chromatic look, the colors still really work using some grays to really make the details pop. There’s also work between the trio to deliver something that’s slightly off. Buildings feel like they’re slightly crooked, whether that’s on purpose or not is unknown. But, it feels like it is and done so to show that the technology isn’t perfect and there’s more than meets the eye. Crank!‘s lettering too comes in to play. There is a lot of dialogue and it is laid out well but there’s also a serene aspect to the font choice that doesn’t become apparent until the very end.

Undiscovered Country #8 is another fantastic journey into the crazy world this creative team has created. There’s a horror story awaiting as we’re given the setup that we know is too good to be true. But, where it all goes is unknown. Undiscovered Country is a series where anything is possible and with that it has become a series where we’re forced to expect the unexpected and just enjoy the wild ride.

Story: Scott Snyder, Charles Soule Art: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Leonardo Marcello Grassi
Color: Matt Wilson Lettering: Crank!
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

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Preview: Detective Comics #1027

Detective Comics #1027

Written by: Matt Fraction, Brian Michael Bendis, Peter J. Tomasi, Grant Morrison, Dan Jurgens, Mariko Tamaki, Greg Rucka, Scott Snyder, Marv Wolfman, Kelly Sue Deconnick, Tom King
Art by: Jim Cheung, José L. García López, Lee Bermejo, Dan Jurgens, Jamal Campbell, Dan Mora, Ivan Reis, Emanuela Lupacchino, Riley Rossmo, Eduardo Risso, Chip Zdarsky, David Marquez, Chris Burnham

Light the Bat-Signal, because Detective Comics #1027 is here! In honor of Batman’s first appearance in Detective Comics #27, this special, book-size celebration brings you the biggest names in comics as they chronicle the most epic Batman adventures Gotham City and the DC Universe have ever seen! The World’s Greatest Detective has a mountain of cases to crack: Who murdered Gotham’s most corrupt police officer? What does The Joker’s annual visit mean for Bruce Wayne? And most importantly, what WayneTech mystery will sow the seeds of the next epic Batman event? All this and more await you within the pages of the biggest Batman issue of them all!

Detective Comics #1027

DC Reveals more Tales From the Dark Multiverse

Looks like the Dark Multiverse continues to have a lasting effect on the DCU, blemishing many of DC’s defining moments from across history. This December, the infection continues to fester, as the publisher announced three new titles to get the Dark Multiverse treatment this December.

TALES FROM THE DARK MULTIVERSE: WAR OF THE GODS #1

Written by VITA AYALA
Art by ARIEL OLIVETTI
Cover by DAVID MARQUEZ
December 1

In this 48-page, $5.99 Prestige Format one-shot, the realms of the gods have been turned upside down and inside out, on the verge of engulfing Earth and its people. Only one hero stands to defend it: Wonder Woman! But this dark mirror image of an epic tale features a Wonder Woman who is ready to destroy our world!

Cursed by the evil goddess of magic, Hecate, the Amazon warrior princess Diana has become a weapon of vengeance ready to tear down any god or superhero that stands in her way. Will Earth and its heroes survive her might? Or are they doomed to worship the dark princess of the Amazons for the rest of eternity?!

TALES FROM THE DARK MULTIVERSE: WAR OF THE GODS #1

TALES FROM THE DARK MULTIVERSE: CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS

Written by STEVE ORLANDO
Art by MIKE PERKINS
Cover by DAVID MARQUEZ
December 15

When the Anti-Monitor’s deadly grudge match with the Multiverse was finally foiled, there was only one Earth left! But which Earth? That was crucial to what would happen next. In one timeline, Earth-1’s Superman stopped the Superman of Earth-2 from going into final battle, but in the Dark Multiverse, it’s Jor-L of Earth-2 who survives, changing the landscape for all that follows!

When Surtur comes looking to crush all life, the beleaguered heroes jump into their next big battle, jumping from one Crisis to the next…but will the last days of the Justice Society of America play out differently if Green Lantern Alan Scott steps into the darkness?

TALES FROM THE DARK MULTIVERSE: CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS

TALES FROM THE DARK MULTIVERSE: DARK NIGHTS: METAL #1

Written by COLLIN KELLY, JACKSON LANZING and SCOTT SNYDER
Art by KARL MOSTERT and TREVOR SCOTT
Cover by DAVID MARQUEZ
December 29

In the event-defining epic Dark Nights: Metal, the Justice League defeated the vile Barbatos and his Dark Knights to save our universe from sinking into the abyss of the Dark Multiverse. But… what if they failed? What if Barbatos reigned victorious? Enter an alternate timeline where the DCU as you know it has been dragged down into the darkness. Witness the Justice League you once knew, hideously transformed into dragons who serve at the mercy of evil.

Duke Thomas, the Last Monitor, will have to seek out Nightwing and the few remaining survivors of the Metal event to assemble the Final Justice League in an attempt to save the Multiverse. Featuring a story by Dark Nights: Metal architect Scott Snyder, rising stars Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing, and art by red-hot artist Karl Mostert, you won’t want to miss the biggest, loudest arena rock concert in the history of the DC Universe!

TALES FROM THE DARK MULTIVERSE: DARK NIGHTS: METAL #1

All three of these titles are 48-page Prestige Format titles, each selling for $5.99. 

Review: Dark Nights: Death Metal Trinity Crisis #1

DARK NIGHTS: DEATH METAL TRINITY CRISIS #1

As a whole, I’ve been a bit mixed on Dark Nights: Death Metal. The comic tonally has been all over with gonzo ideas that don’t match its “metal pitch.” The comic also is clearly the latest “Crisis” to hit the DC Universe forgoing the classic title. Dark Nights: Death Metal Trinity Crisis #1 feels like it cements this event’s place in the ongoing “Crisis” of the DC Universe and is a key issue of the event. It’s enough of a key issue one has to scratch their head and wonder why it wasn’t?

Dark Nights: Death Metal Trinity Crisis #1 picks up as the heroes of the DC Universe are freed and the plan is laid out as to what to do next. The stakes are laid out and it’s clear that a multi-pronged plan is the way to go with various teams focused on specific objectives. Wonder Woman is calling the shots this time pivoting away from Superman and Batman, who are clearly hiding something from here and predictably whatever it is will be revealed at a pivotal moment to make victory difficult or prevent an easy initial win.

Scott Snyder handles the story of this tie-in that mainly focuses on Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, and their team that includes Jarro, Swamp Thing, Jonah Hex, and Harley Quinn. Their mission is to harness to “Crisis energy” of the Dark Multiverse to be used later to help spring forth a multiverse DC’s heroes will create and direct. Dark Nights: Death Metal Trinity Crisis #1 is so far the strongest of all of the issues released for the event. It’s an interesting launching point for the next chapter and direction of the story that will drive DC’s future into whatever comes next.

And that’s part of the frustrating aspect of Dark Nights: Death Metal as a whole. It’s a bridge to yet another “reboot.” When Dark Nights: Metal launched, I felt that it should have been the bridge between the dark and gloomy “New 52” and the more hopeful “Rebirth.” Dark Nights: Death Metal feels like it emphasizes exactly that and is a missed opportunity to really bridge the two eras in tone and in a more coherent and clean transition.

Snyder lays out what’s at stake and the issue well. It feels like a vital chapter that should have just been a part of the main series. There’s a tenseness about it all that builds and builds well, even if the latter aspects of the comic are foreshadowed a bit too much. It’s still an intriguing chapter that really makes you wonder what’s to come in this wild ride of an event.

Francis Manapul handles the art. With colors by Ian Herring and lettering by Tom Napolitano, the comic has an energy about it that Manapul is known for. Dark Nights: Death Metal Trinity Crisis #1 delivers visuals that are both tense and have you jumping with enthusiasm like a good popcorn flick. There’s also a lot going on. The details at time are a little packed in but the team does a solid job of fitting a lot into the issue. There’s a great balance of use of panels and page layouts to also emphasize the chaotic nature of what’s going on delivering an almost claustrophobic feel for a while before exploding into the latter half.

Dark Nights: Death Metal Trinity Crisis #1 feels like the issue where this event just admits it’s the latest “Crisis” storyline for the DC Universe. It does a solid job of both diving into DC history while also leaving it open enough for new readers to enjoy. But, again, there’s a fault of the issue for not being part of the main series. It’s an odd choice. Still, this is the second recent release for Dark Nights: Death Metal that acts as a jumping on point or an explanation of what’s happening. If you’ve been following the event, it’s a must get. If you’re intrigued by what’s going on, this isn’t a bad place to start to begin the latter half.

Story: Scott Snyder Art: Francis Manapul
Color: Ian Herring Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Story: 8.35 Art: 8.65 Overall: 8.35 Recommendation: Buy

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Preview: Dark Nights: Death Metal Trinity Crisis #1

Dark Nights: Death Metal Trinity Crisis #1

Written by: Scott Snyder
Art by: Francis Manapul
In Shops: Sep 08, 2020
SRP: $5.99

With Superman freed from his New Apokolips prison, the classic Trinity lineup is reunited and ready to rock! Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman amp up their power to launch an assault on Castle Bat, and that’s just the warm-up act! Three walking nightmares are hidden deep inside the fortress-but these Dark Multiverse versions of the Anti-Monitor, Superboy Prime, and Darkseid hold the key to humanity’s survival. The Justice League have to face down their old nemeses, but will round two be the end for our heroes?

Dark Nights: Death Metal Trinity Crisis #1

Review: Dark Nights: Death Metal Guidebook #1

DARK NIGHTS: DEATH METAL GUIDEBOOK #1

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


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