There are a lot of ways a crossover event can go wrong for superhero comics. They can bog down the story, derail ongoing narratives, fracture the sense of continuity between books — really, you name it. The list of potential pitfalls is pretty lengthy and equally as daunting. So, it should really come as no surprise that there was a lot riding on the shoulders of the first major event book to happen after DC Comics’ 2016 Rebirth initiative.
There was a ton of pressure on Dark Knights: Metal right out the gate — it had to figure out just where and how to deal with the new status quo and continuity of the reborn DC Universe, and duck-and-weave around all the systemic issues that can plague event books just, you know, in general; all while setting the tone and the style for major event books in the Rebirth era going forward. That doesn’t even factor in the anticipation that came with the reunion of legendary Batman creative team Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. All of which is to say: if Metal had bombed, it would have been bad. Nuclear, even.
Thankfully, if Snyder and Capullo felt the weight they were carrying, they absolutely didn’t show it. Metal careened into the DCU with all the grace and subtlety of a mack truck, throwing down its proverbial gauntlet from page one. It wasn’t just the no-holds-barred, over the top absurdity of it all — from the Justice League piloting a Voltron style mech to Baby Darkseid swaddled across Batman’s chest as he Indiana Jones’d his way into a forbidden tomb — it was the overwhelming self-awareness of it all. Metal succeeded in 2017 by seeing all the potential stopgaps and landmines of a freshly reborn DCU and deciding that they were features rather than bugs. It took all the variables and uncertainty sparked to life by DC Universe: Rebith #1, molded them into story engines and means to mine out threads that may have been lost in the shuffle over the last several years of middling New 52 experimentation.
Each issue of Metal reads like one part gripping, high-stakes cosmic drama and two parts Vegas stage show extravaganza. It’s a two-dimensional surprise party where you can never really be sure who or what you’re going to run into each time you turn the page — from the long awaited return of old favorite characters, to off the wall reinterpretation of vintage villains, or even to the complete reorganization of old metaphysical constants like the multiverse and hypertime. Metal is all about turning raw potential into kinetic energy, just waiting to be tapped.
If Metal is a harbinger of things to come in 2018, the future of the DCU looks hilariously, heartwarmingly, face meltingly bright.