There was a time when we couldn’t believe a man could fly — especially if that man was Batman, and it was on the back of a dragon. A Joker dragon, no less. Times have changed, though, and if Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo can’t make us believe it, at least they can make it a whole lot of fun. Both creators hold nothing back in Dark Nights: Metal #6, the final issue of the team’s high-octane, headbanging, multiverse-spanning event that brought Batman to the forefront of the DC Universe.
For years, readers had been convinced that Batman largely had no place outside of Gotham — and only after dark, at that. Snyder convincingly upended that notion in his All-Star Batman, and has carried that momentum into and throughout Metal. DC’s first-ever Bat-centric event has forever put the Dark Knight on par with the company’s heavy hitters — not just lending a hand against the threat of Barbatos, but taking the lead.
Snyder’s drastic paradigm shift for Batman has also been a microcosm of his attitude towards Metal itself — high-thinking, but still loads of fun. It’s a serious storyline, sure, but that doesn’t mean going over the top once in a while– or a lot — does it any harm. In fact, the current issue hammers home why such an approach has worked so well.
It’s easy for any storyline centered around the concept of a multiverse to collapse under its own weight, and many have. To successfully execute and conclude an event centered around two multiverses, Snyder has balanced the weight of the concept with the endless possibilities it presents. Two multiverses, seven evil Batmen, and dozens of heroes are best juggled if they’re juggled in a manner akin to a thrash-metal guitarist tearing through a blistering solo on a diet of coffee and energy drinks. So that’s what Snyder does, throughout the series, and most especially the final issue – Joker dragons and all. The action is constant, the thrills are exhilarating, and the issue is packed with one too-cool moment after the next.
Of course, Snyder’s vision would never have been brought to life without Capullo’s heavy metal interpretations, and none could make a Joker dragon look so threatening, creepy, and larger-than-life like Capullo. The artist brings the same loud, fast and thrashing mentality to the issue as a whole, just as he’s done with the entire series. There’s no white space in a dark multiverse — every page, every panel, every corner is packed with caffeinated imagery.
This isn’t to say that Snyder’s content to just put a brick on the accelerator and let his story speed aimlessly to its conclusion. His attention to the story structure remains focused: for all the thrills, the overlaid narration from Carter Hall’s journal is a well-placed element that keeps the action linked to the very basis of the story. And when the issue hits its crescendo, much is implied rather than shown, but it works well, because the readership is largely out of breath by then.
Like many a song whose loud, thunderous music drowns out the lyrics, careful listening reveals a meaning that might not immediately be apparent. The story’s climax includes the last words from Hall’s journal, which carry an almost inspirational message to those reading it. It’s a nice final touch by Snyder, to counter those who might criticize his story for lacking any kind of meaning. Ultimately, Metal has been all about rising from darkness, and the final words from Hall’s journal remind us that we can all aspire to greater heights.
The issue’s lower-key but informative epilogue reads like the welcome and relative quiet of a power ballad played on loop as the crowd exits the arena after the show. The sequence sorts out not only what’s happened in Metal, but also lays out what’s to come in DC’s post-Metal era. The scene eagerly addresses the curiosity of those who, despite the intensity that just ended only pages earlier, immediately want to know what to expect next.
Like a speed metal song with no room between the notes, Dark Nights: Metal, and especially its final issue, just might be the first comic series to leave readers’ ears ringing.