Dark Nights: Metal #6, Annotated; Part 1 - The Trinity's Reunion and Joker vs Joker

Back in December 2016, when writer Scott Snyder and penciller Greg Capullo were preparing to reunite for a "Batman heavy metal rock opera," Snyder spoke effusively about the project's tone. "I want this one to be different," he explained. "I don’t want it to be grim. I don’t want it to be superheroes arguing over something. Superheroes won’t be fighting superheroes. I want it to be celebratory, and huge, and crazy. I am going for out of control dinosaurs and lasers. It should be fun."

Fifteen months later -- and nine months after Dark Days: The Forge kicked everything off -- we can say safely that it has been fun (if sometimes exhausting) combing through the details of Snyder and Capullo's gonzo epic. Dark Nights: Metal issue #6 brings everything full circle, and even teases a couple of encores and side gigs. Join us one last time for all the nitpicking and Easter eggs you can handle!

Needless to say, there will be spoilers. In case you need to catch up, we've annotated the Forge (part 1, part 2) and Casting one-shots, plus issues #1, #2, #3, #4, and #5 (part 1, part 2).

The main story of Dark Nights: Metal issue #6 was written by Scott Snyder and pencilled by Greg Capullo, inked by Jonathan Glapion, colored by FCO Plascencia and lettered by Steve Wands. The "Coda" was written by Snyder and James Tynion IV, pencilled by Alvaro Martinez, inked by Raul Martinez, colored by June Chung and Brad Anderson, and lettered by Wands. Rebecca Taylor was the Editor, assisted by Dave Wielgosz.

Together On Our Main Stage (Pages 1-7)

The Batman of Earth Negative-44 teams up with the Alfred Protocol, from Batman: The Murder Machine

Issue #6 divides the final battle with Barbatos into distinct segments. First, it gathers most of the Leaguers into the same barren hellscape seen at the end of issue #5. We last saw Aquaman and Deathstroke facing down a group of evil Batmen, with Green Lantern Hal Jordan, Mr. Terrific, J'Onn J'Onzz and Plastic Man in similar circumstances. Page 1 makes it clear that the heroes lost, since their foes are dumping the unconscious Leaguers at Barbatos' feet. Issue #5 also described the villains' plan to drop the Earth into the Dark Multiverse with Thanagar's Phoenix Cannon. Since we don't hear anything more about that this issue, apparently that's what happened after the Leaguers were defeated.

Meanwhile on Page 1, for the first time we're hearing the voice of the Batman Who Laughs' prisoner, although we won't learn his identity for several more pages.

Pages 2-4 bring us more twisted versions of DC heroes and villains, including Sinestro with what looks like a mouth in his chest, and a bovine Wonder Woman. The latter may be a riff on Diana's old embassy employee Ferdinand, a minotaur created by Greg Rucka and Drew Johnson. First appearing in October 2003's Wonder Woman issue #196, Ferdinand was a chef at the Themysciran embassy.

Other villains include Giganta (created by William Moulton Marston and H.G. Peter for Summer 1944's Wonder Woman issue #9) and a punk-coiffed version of the Riddler (created by Bill Finger and Dick Sprang for October 1948's Detective Comics issue #140). The Alfred Pennyworth on Page 5 whose head is "coming apart" is a manifestation of the cybernetic "Alfred Protocol" from Earth Negative-44, first seen in November 2017's Batman: The Murder Machine one-shot. In a nutshell, the Alfred Protocol was how the Batman of Earth Negative-44 dealt with his faithful aide being murdered by Bane and company. Naturally it led eventually to his turning into an evil Cyborg mash-up.

On a happier note, it's nice on Page 5 to see Wonder Woman making connections with Leaguers not named Batman or Superman. We're not saying that the Trinity doesn't have a special place in DC history, but it can tend to overshadow their relationships with other colleagues.

Last time we mentioned how Plastic Man's most recent origin was tied to 2013's Forever Evil event, but Hawkgirl's "Is that Plastic Man?" on Page 6 suggests that Plas has been part of the DCU since before that time. In fact, Plastic Man goes all the way back to the Golden Age, when he was part of the All-Star Squadron (as shown retroactively in August 1981's Justice League of America issue #193). Plas joined the Justice League in March 1998's JLA issue #16, but during his tenure Hawkgirl (Kendra Saunders) was part of the Justice Society.

Speaking of Hawkgirl, her assertion on Page 7 that Wonder Woman "make[s] people see the truth" is right in line with Diana's modern characterization. Ever since George Pérez and company reframed the magic lasso as the Lasso of Truth in the 1986 reboot, "truth" has been one of the character's guiding principles. Writer/artist John Byrne even allowed Diana to ascend to Mount Olympus as the Goddess of Truth, an office she held from November 1997's Wonder Woman issue #127 to August 1998's issue #136.

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