Dark Nights: Metal creators Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo packed the first two issues of the series with characters, story elements and plot threads that extensively laid the groundwork for the remainder of the series. With all those aspects laid out, though, Snyder and Capullo now have a rich backdrop that they can utilize to more straightforwardly move their story ahead, and Dark Nights: Metal #3 begins to do just that. Moving from setup to execution mode, both creators are now free to speed down the multiversal highway, with the pedal truly to the metal, as the event begins to capitalize on the past issues’ investments.
The allure of the event’s first issue was the sheer wealth, depth and breadth of scope that Snyder gave his story, further embellished by Capullo’s implementation of it. The second issue excelled as Snyder continued to throw in everything but the kitchen sink — although he probably managed to do even that — while beginning to align all the pieces, as Capullo illustrated the over-the-top action that included Damian tearing through the Amazon rainforest in tricked out Bat-tank.
Issue #3’s strengths lie along different criteria — Snyder takes a simpler, more linear approach this time, making use of everything that came before as the environment to support the story progression of largely a single character. The other players and elements all remain, but Snyder and Capullo structure the story not to be enjoyed by close examination, but simply by sitting back and letting the G-forces take over.
The main character who’s spotlighted in this issue isn’t really a major surprise — Superman is DC Comics’ most prolific superhero, after all, perhaps other than Batman himself. The focus not only gives this issue its own unique shine, but also provides a ray of brightness and hope amidst a multiverse overflowing with evil and darkness. Always yin to the yang of his World’s Finest counterpart, Superman is an all-too natural choice for a momentary spotlight in DC Comics’ first line-wide event centering around Batman. The story also posits that Superman might continue to star in a larger role going forward, as is only logical for any DC event spanning across a multiverse or two.
Snyder also takes the opportunity to concentrate, if only briefly, on the family man inside the costume. Clark Kent as a father has been a major aspect of the DC Universe since “Rebirth” began, but examined less closely is the extended family dynamic between super-fathers and their super-sons. Snyder touches on not only Clark’s father role, but also that of an uncle-figure to Damian. The issue’s opening sequence peeks at that dynamic, but its potential is emotionally hammered home in a single panel where an atypically emotional Damian has a bonding moment with Clark in the absence of his own father.
While the flavor of the issue is different from its predecessors, it’s no less intense, in large part thanks to the skills of Capullo, who continues to dynamically illustrate each scene, from the high-octane action sequences to the quieter interludes. His Dark Knights retain the same level of detailed creepiness that’s been prevalent since their introduction, and Barbatos’ sinister towering structures endure as one of the series’ more disturbing elements. FCO Plascencia continues to demonstrate the same coloring versatility that he did during his Batman run alongside Snyder and Capullo.
Understanding he can’t over-sensationalize his story, Snyder throttles back the trappings this issue and uses them to enhance his epic, rather than dominate it, while Capullo simply continues to bring Snyder’s visions to life as skillfully as ever. The shift isn’t a breather by any means — Dark Nights: Metal #3 is simply the point in the story where it doesn’t have to run uphill anymore, and it’s all the stronger for it.