Onward, To Oblivion (Pages 11-18)
Last issue we saw Zatanna and John Constantine, two members of Justice League Dark; but Page 11 reintroduces two members of Shadowpact, the JLD of ten-ish years ago. Denny O'Neil and Jerry Grandinetti created Nightmaster for May 1969's Showcase #82; while John Broome and Carmine Infantino created Bobo T. Chimpanzee (a/k/a Detective Chimp) for July-August 1952's Adventures Of Rex The Wonder Dog #4. Before joining Shadowpact in June-October 2005's six-issue Day Of Vengeance miniseries, Nightmaster was part of the mystical super-group Primal Force, while Bobo and Rex the Wonder Dog worked for the Bureau of Amplified Animals (as seen first in Early October 1992's Green Lantern #30).
For those who want more detail, Jim "Nightmaster" Rook was lead singer of The Electrics (as mentioned later, on Page 18) when a trip to the Oblivion Inc. shop ended up transporting him to the otherdimensional land of Myrra. There he discovered he was descended from a Myrran warrior named Nacht, and fought for Myrra for a while. Upon his return to Earth, he discovered that the Oblivion shop led to the Oblivion Bar (which first appeared in DOV #1), and after serving as bartender, ended up owning the joint. Naturally, he let Shadowpact use the Bar as its headquarters. Green Arrow #32 mentioned that Zatanna organized the rendezvous at the Oblivion Bar. As for Bobo's origin, he and Rex have both drunk from the Fountain of Youth (as revealed in July 1981's DC Comics Presents #35), and this, according to DOV, amplified his existing intelligence.
Page 12 mentions the Murder Machine and Red Death. According to the aforementioned special, The Murder Machine was the Batman of Earth Negative-44, driven to such desperate ends by Alfred's brutal murder that he used Cyborg's technology to create an army of Alfred-drones, but they ended up killing all of Batman's foes in cold blood. Inevitably, that Batman fused his own consciousness with the "Alfred protocol," and after killing his own Justice League used it to defeat our Cyborg. Similarly, the Red Death special showed how the Batman of Earth Negative-52 (whose failure to be everywhere at once cost him his "family") rocketed himself and his Flash into the Speed Force.
By the way, the term "Speed Force" was first coined by writer Mark Waid (with artist Mike Wieringo) in June 1994's Flash #91. The Speed Force is another dimension, visible on the map of the Multiverse, which manifests itself as an energy source. Clearly it can convey a wide range of speed-related powers, including the nasty ones the Red Death is using. There's also a Negative Speed Force currently "infecting" the Flash in his own title, but it's not clear when Metal takes place in relation to that.
As described in Nightwing #29, Dick's wearing "thermal armor" which he picked up from the Batcave. He calls it the superhero equivalent of an "ugly sweater" (i.e., all it does is keep you warm), but we like to think it's an homage to the Batman And Robin movie snow-suits. Dick does look a little rougher here than he did in his own book.
Readers of Suicide Squad #26 saw what Nightwing meant by "I lost the Teen Titans." Overwhelmed by the Batman Who Laughs' forces, Starfire, Beast Boy, Aqualad and Raven were Jokerized along with Deadshot, El Diablo, Enchantress and Captain Boomerang. Clearly Nightwing has a stronger bond with the Titans than he does the Suicide Squad, so he mentions one group and not the other.
Page 13's question about the towers activating indicates that they're similar to Crisis On Infinite Earths' tuning forks. The Monitor intended his forks to draw the surviving positive-matter worlds into a safe haven, free from the destructive antimatter waves. See, every world in the Multiverse vibrates at a unique frequency, which is why the Flashes are able to use super-speed vibrations to travel from one to another. Thus, if you want the whole world to go to a specific cosmic destination, you use a giant tuning fork. In Green Arrow #32, Mister Terrific alludes to this when he explains that the Dark Multiverse machines are changing people's frequencies. If they change enough, "our entire world will tumble out of existence as we know it."
Kendra's "pile of dirt" remark on Page 13 refers to Wonder Woman's classic origin, wherein she was a baby formed from clay and given life by the Greek pantheon. This is in contrast with her New 52-era origin, which made her the child of Zeus and Hippolyta.
Following his cameo in issue #1, Page 14 gives us Steel in the flesh, joined by Mister Terrific and the Plastic Man egg from the Forge special. Apparently Steel's hammer, Fate's helmet and Plastic Man's egg are made of Nth Metal.
Breaking into teams is a classic Justice League (and Justice Society) strategy, so while we're not surprised to see it here, we're not complaining either. One team is headed for the Rock of Eternity, but remember that last issue Morgaine Le Fay wanted Kendra to go to the Rock, fire the Anti-Monitor's "astral brain" through the "core of the Multiverse," and "destroy the Dark Multiverse once and for all." We don't see Kendra say anything about that plan, but maybe she tells her team about it off-panel.
Green Lantern's friends (and presumably family) were "swallowed by shadows" in the Dawnbreaker special. Hal lost his brother Jack a while ago, so his family currently includes his other brother Jim, Jim's wife Susan, and their children Howard and Jane.
Dick and Damian's argument on page 15 continues their conflict from Suicide Squad #26, where Dick told Damian he thought Batman was dead. Since Dick has started hearing "messages" from Batman (as seen in Green Arrow #32), his decision to stand and fight no doubt strikes Damian as even more cruel.
Page 16 reminds us that Deathstroke's weapons are made of Promethium. This isn't surprising, given the history (discussed in last issue's annotations) that Deathstroke has with Promethium.
Page 17 mentions Iris West, who (as if you didn't know) is Barry "Flash" Allen's one true love. (We're Team Iris, but we still thought the TV version of Patty Spivot got short shrift.) Bob Kanigher and Carmine Infantino created Iris for Barry's debut in September-October 1956's Showcase #4. Barry and Iris are going through a rough patch over in Flash, but since it's related to the Negative Speed Force storyline, again we're not sure when Metal takes place in relation to that.