It's been a busy few weeks in the Dark Multiverse. Following last month's Dark Nights: Metal #2, DC Comics has published three terrifying "Dark Knights" one-shots: The Red Death, The Murder Machine and The Dawnbreaker. Additionally, the four-issue "Gotham Resistance" crossover ran through Teen Titans #12, Nightwing #29, Suicide Squad #26 and Green Arrow #32. After this issue, Metal itself takes a break until December, but there are more specials to come.
Right now, though, there's plenty to discuss. Dark Nights: Metal issue #3 was written by Scott Snyder, penciled by Greg Capullo, inked by Jonathan Glapion, colored by FCO Plascencia and lettered by Steve Wands. Rebecca Taylor and Eddie Berganza were the editors, assisted by Dave Wielgosz. (Note that we don't count the credits pages as part of the numbered story pages.)
As always, we'll spoil just about everything in the issue, so grab your copy and let's get cracking!
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Scary Smallville (Pages 1-3)
We realize that everyone probably knows the significance of Smallville, Kansas, but we wanted to explore its history just a little. Although it was first named in May 1949's Superboy issue #2, we suppose it could have appeared as early as Superman's first appearance in June 1938's Action Comics #1. For decades, Smallville tended to be located somewhere in the vague American Midwest, until 1978's Superman movie placed it in Kansas. After that, the 1986 John Byrne-led reboot established the comics' Smallville as being in Kansas, and it has remained so ever since, regardless of media.
Damian Wayne made his Metal debut last issue, so the other boy is Jonathan Samuel "Jon" Kent, a/k/a Superboy, f/k/a Jon White. Created by Dan Jurgens, he was born to Lois and Clark in July 2015's Convergence: Superman #2. Originally the Kents were refugees from the pre-Flashpoint timeline who (as related in Jurgens and Lee Weeks' 8-issue 2015-16 Superman: Lois & Clark miniseries) found their way to the main DC-Earth ("Earth-0"). Seeing that it already had a Superman and Lois Lane, they became the "Whites" and lived off the grid raising Jon while Clark used his powers in secret and Lois became an anonymous journalist. That's all kind of moot now, but it may be worth remembering in light of Metal's multiversal shenanigans. Jon first appeared as Superboy in September 2016's Superman vol. 4 #2.
Of course, Damian is playing the theme song to the 1966-69 "Batman" TV series. It was written by jazz trumpeter and composer Neil Hefti, although composer/arranger Nelson Riddle wrote music for the individual episodes and the 1966 feature film.
Clark is right about the difference between Batman music and Superman music. With all due respect to the themes for the Fleischer brothers' Superman cartoons and the "Adventures of Superman" TV series, John Williams' Superman march has become the standard by which all Super-music is judged. Jay Gruska's "Lois & Clark" theme, Shirley Walker's animated-series theme and Blake Neely's "Supergirl" theme all feature pulsing introductions reminiscent of Williams' 12/8 prelude. Even Hans Zimmer's Man of Steel music has some hitch in its giddy-up. Compare that to Danny Elfman's and Zimmer's respective Batman themes, which while instantly recognizable, are each a lot more simple.
Is Scott Snyder being a bit self-deprecating by suggesting that Batman "need[s] a better writer for non-dark, non-brooding moments?" We're laughing with him, because between those super-depressing Dark Knights one-shots and what's to come in this issue, we do appreciate this bit of light-hearted fun. Considering that this is Superman's vision, we're not surprised that he would imagine Batman being emotional and contrite, and being bad at it.
"Carpe Diem," as Robin Williams taught us, is Latin for "seize the day." We suppose the phrase could also have been "chow down" or "cat dancing," but "carpe diem" is probably easier to drop into conversation. Besides, it's one more light-versus-dark reference.
Although we saw Barbatos in the background at the end of last issue, on Page 2 he appears in all his '80s-album-cover glory. His design reminded us of an old World's Finest Comics story from March 1979's issue #255. Written by Bob Haney, pencilled by José Luis Garcia-Lopéz and inked by Dan Adkins and Frank Chiaramonte, it was the tale of a little heartland town beset by a cult of bat-demon worshippers. Superman and Batman defeated their dark god, Gitchka, with the help of a local "bat-man" who was the latest in a long line of Gitchka-fighters.
We wonder if the Dark Knights read The Dark Knight Returns, which established firmly that Batman looks pretty impressive on horseback. Naturally, here on Page 3 they're more like the horsemen of the apocalypse.