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Dark Nights: Metal #5, Annotated Part 1 - Villainous Debut & Crime Alley Redux

hard to believe we're almost done with dark nights: metal! issue #5 checks in with the justice league's expeditions and sets up what promises to be an ear-bleeding finale. while there aren't as many deep cuts into dc history, there's still plenty to discuss.

as always, we'll spoil the issue along the way, so be sure you've read your copy before you follow along. previously we've covered the forge (parts 1 and 2) and casting one-shots, plus issues #1, #2, #3 and #4. join us, won't you?

dark nights: metal issue #5 was written by scott snyder, pencilled by greg capullo, inked by jonathan glapion, colored by fco plascencia and lettered by steve wands. rebecca taylor was the editor, assisted by dave wielgosz.

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winner of 13 anti-grammies (pages 1, 17)

the demons three are imprisoned, as told by gardner fox and mike sekowsky in justice league of america #10

the issue opens with barbatos perched atop a multiversal tuning fork. he's attended by flying joker-dragons, the batman who laughs and his demonic sidekicks. as crazy as each of those might sound, by now they're nothing new. however, because the batman who laughs encourages his master to "wail," we're compelled to observe that metal may not be over until the bat-demon sings.

along the same lines, we look forward to describing our least favorite song as "anti-music." in a miniseries filled with over-the-top concepts and album-cover-esque spectacle, that simple term is one of the most audacious.

related: interview: snyder teases dark nights: metal’s ultimate dcu ramifications

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we don't really check back with barbatos' plan until page 17, when the bmwl lays it out for wonder woman. somehow we forgot to mention the phoenix cannon in last month's annotations, but it gets a lot more attention in this issue. apparently it's new as of this miniseries, because we can't imagine why else thanagar would want to have an interstellar weapon trained perpetually on the earth.

anyway, the plan goes like this: the phoenix cannon has been "reversed" so that it will turn the earth's core "dark." that will push the planet into the dark multiverse, guided via hawkman's mace into an interdimensional portal at the rock of eternity. the bad guys were counting on the justice league assembling all of the necessary nth metal artifacts which otherwise would have been "too dangerous for [the baddies] to risk approaching."

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the tripartite scheme reminds us of the trio of artifacts which would free abnegazar, rath and ghast, the so-called "demons three." gardner fox and mike sekowsky created the demons three (along with venerable league foes felix faust and the lord of time) for march 1962's justice league of america issue #10. see, the demons ruled the earth eons ago, but were imprisoned by the mysterious timeless ones. before that, though, the demons created a three-part ritual which would free them. the ritual involved opening the red jar of calythos, ringing the green bell of uthool and spinning the silver wheel of nyorlath. to get the demons to obey him, felix faust mind-controlled the leaguers into retrieving the objects from their secret locations; but (spoilers) the league defeated felix, the demons and the lord of time in issue #11. some 15 years later in october 1977's jla issues #147-148 (written by paul levitz and marty pasko and pencilled by dick dillin), the 30th century wizard mordru tried to do the same thing, including mind-controlling members of the jla and justice society.

related: why plastic man is an egg in dark night: metal, revealed

back in this miniseries, the fact that plastic man's egg is powering the phoenix cannon probably gives the good guys a bit of hope. plas doesn't get to save all of creation that often, but it would be a nice transition for him and mister terrific into the upcoming terrifics ongoing series.

naturally, plas wouldn't be the first dc comics stretchable superhero to save all of time and space. as shown in november 1978's justice league of america issue #160, of all the heroes of the justice league and justice society, the world-famous elongated man turned out to be the last one standing against the lord of time. (an image in this post shows him destroying a robot guardian.) as his doctor explained, "[a]nother man might not have survived ralph dibny's ordeal, but another man wouldn't have had organs and bones as resilient as rubber."

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