THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS.
By Jarrod Jones. Batman is what got me through the New 52. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s bleeding edge, take-no-shit version of Bruce Wayne made the Dark Knight feel more like an individual than an elusive creature of myth for the first time in ages. If the human drama felt intimate (and it did), the scale was decidedly cinematic, packed with all-time best moments that will doubtlessly go into the annals of legend. It was great, warts and all.
The day-lit chase between Zero Year Batman and the Red Hood gang? Joker’s pitch black assault on the GCPD? “Get the hell out of my house“? All of it A+. Go ahead and give me your pick for Best Moment from Snyder and Capullo’s Batman. I promise you you’d be correct.
Now we have Dark Nights: Metal, a jet-black six-issue fracas with a debut issue stuffed to the brim with Big Moments. Snyder and Capullo are back, tremble in their wake, that kind of thing. If it isn’t the largest event DC has staged since the advent of Rebirth (and it is), it’s certainly the most indulgent, with foil embossed covers, variants up the wazoo, and an ending that will give you such severe flashbacks to DC Universe Rebirth that you might experience whiplash.
Metal #1 is grand-scale comics on a whole other level — the next level, perhaps. It bops around the world at a break-neck pace and beyond, beginning with a killer Warworld sequence that fudges with our expectations and provides a sweet promise of the havoc to come. It’s stuffed with Easter Eggs and throwbacks that are both thrilling (the Challengers of the Unknown! The multiversal map!) and bewildering (Will Payton?!). Its energy fluctuates from white-hot to ice-cold from sequence to sequence, depending on how much exposition needs to be fed to the readers at the time, though the info-dumps are nowhere near as egregious as they were in the Metal lead-in, Dark Days: The Casting.
Because of this, it loses some of the intimacy Batman had in abundance. (One bit, where the Justice League fly off to the South Pacific after Gotham City has been devastated, is one of those “put a pin in it” moments that make the heroes in this saga feel more aloof than they should.) Greg Capullo maneuvers around the quieter moments as best he can — there’s a panel during a sequence on Blackhawk Island that made me sit up in attention, thanks to Capullo’s collaborative efforts with inker Jonathan Glapion and colorist FCO Plascencia, the Batman team supreme. (Ah, hell, I put the spoiler warning up there: it was the Starman portrait.)
When Mr. Capullo isn’t juggling ten or more figures around or underneath Steve Wands’s word balloons in a single panel, he’s drafting a mixed bag of visuals that either work stupendously (the two-page Gotham devastation sequence, the crackerjack final splash page) or elicit a chuckle: A bat-signal emanating in an endless pool of black, filled with grinning, howling demons — a staggering graphic, surely — is framed by three disembodied DC heroes, all of whom react to its approach in peculiar, Frank Miller-esque ways.
It’s in the issue’s final four pages that Metal looks and feels like a proper Snyder/Capullo reunion. The borders are black as pitch, the imagery evokes deduction and discovery, and the surprise reveal lands with explosive vigor, even if it feels like it came from left field. (I’d kill to read the DC emails that lead to that page.) It’s here that Metal reaches its Frazetta-sized aspirations, not with brutal landscapes or a chop from those axes on Mr. Capullo’s variant covers, but by setting a mood of impeding doom.
Written by Scott “Doom Commander” Snyder.
Pencils by Greg “Pain Bringer” Capullo.
Inks by Jonathan “Guillotine” Glapion.
Colors by FCO “Killer” Plascencia.
Letters by Steve “The Slayer” Wands.
8 out of 10