Dark Nights: Metal is one of the most high-concepts superhero comics that DC has put out in years, but it’s also one of the most accessible and welcoming superhero events in recent memory. It’s a hard tightrope to walk, but the creative team manages it with ease by making sure that above all else, the comic is fun. There’s a bit of comics advice that roughly goes along the lines of “Something exciting should happen each page,” and even at its most expository as Lady Blackhawk is explaining the concept of the Dark Multiverse to the Justice League, and by extension us the readers, Dark Nights: Metal has a pace and kineticism that makes it a captivating read.
As an event, Dark Nights: Metal seems daunting at first. It’s spinning out of very specific events of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman run, it has all these long-lost DC characters that newer readers might not know. Even the heavy use of the word “Dark” in the titles and promotional material could lead readers to think this would be a grim continuity-heavy murder-fest akin to Infinite Crisis. However, the first issue of the event is actually incredibly easy to dive into, partly due to how new everything is presented. Scott Snyder has said in the lead-up to Metal that he wants to use it as a springboard to introduce many new ideas and concepts to the DC Universe and this first issue is a great example of how accessible this story and its spin-offs are going to be.
That’s not to say there isn’t a lot to love if you’re a DC die-hard. Whether it’s the appearance of a good handful of characters that haven’t been around since before DC’s New 52 initiative or not-so-subtle references to Final Crisis and that time Aquaman had a hook for a hand, this feels like the DC Universe like no comic has since 2011. While the ongoing mystery of DC Rebirth is preoccupied with the “how” of the latest continuity shuffle, Dark Nights: Metal just embraces the entire history of the publisher. This is a DC Universe that feels lived in and shared, which has been the biggest ingredient missing from the publisher’s stories for a number of years.
It’s also an incredibly bright book, considering the title and the plot. FCO Plascencia is the colorist that doused Greg Capullo’s Gotham in neon pink during “Zero Year,” and together on Dark Nights: Metal they take it up a notch for one of the most appealingly colorful books in recent memory. Jonathan Glapion’s inks let Capullo and Plascencia’s work shine by not taking up too much space or focusing too much on heavy shadows. Glapion inked the first part of Snyder and Capullo’s Batman run but was replaced by Danny Miki, who is an excellent inker but one who brings a lot of deep blacks to the page. Glapion’s sparser work gives Capullo’s art more of a Jim Lee edge to it, reinforcing the feel that this is a big-budget blockbuster capital-S Superhero story.
Ultimately, Dark Nights: Metal is just outright fun. Snyder, Capullo and their collaborators really leaned into the ecstatic lunacy of superhero comics towards the end of their Batman run and Metal feels like the next logical step. There’s multiple page turns and reveals that’ll make you smile, laugh, clap your hands or shake your head in disbelief. Dark Nights: Metal is everything superhero comics can be and it will remind you why you love the genre in the first place.