Dark Nights: Metal began with a mystery. An investigation by Batman into a mysterious alloy lead him to questions he'd never known to ask, and answers he wishes he never needed to learn. Over the course of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's event series, the Dark Knight's investigation into the Dark Multiverse has left readers with a few lingering questions of our own. And, like all mysteries, the biggest questions start at the beginning, where Dark Days first led into Dark Nights.
Before Metal arrived, DC Comics published two prequel one-shots to set the stage for the event. Those two comics, scripted by Snyder and illustrated by a roster of A-list artists, were called Dark Days: The Forge and Dark Days: The Casting. While those issues set up many important beats that Metal has since picked up on, there are a few pieces of the picture that have yet to be filled in.
What Is Duke Thomas' Connection to The Immortal Men?
Duke Thomas, aka The Signal, figures prominently in The Forge and The Casting, where he investigated a mysterious room in the Batcave alongside Green Lantern Hal Jordan. Their scene transitions into a preview of the forthcoming The Immortal Men series, with the Immortal Man himself talking about Duke's own mother.
Back during the events of "Batman: Endgame," Duke's parents were rendered permanently insane by the Joker and are currently being taken care of while Batman searches for a cure. The Immortal Man reveals that he has been monitoring Elaine Thomas, Duke's mother, and that he had at one time actually offered her a place among the ranks of the Immortal Men.
So, what does this have to do with Duke? We know he now has superpowers, as established first in The Casting, and currently being expanded upon in the Batman and the Signal miniseries, but how does that relate to the Immortal Men? This brief scene could have shown the Immortal Man watching anyone in the DC Universe, so the answer as to why it focused on Duke's mother will likely play a big role in Metal's conclusion.
Where Will the Outsiders Show Up Next?
In The Casting, Duke and Hal walk down a corridor of conveniently placed holograms while Joker to explain Batman's investigation of Nth Metal. The clown reveals that the Dark Knight established his own team that could investigate these mysteries in secret, while a hologram shows that team to be the Outsiders.
Metal establishes them to be something of a black ops team for Batman, consisting of Black Lightning, Metamorpho, Katana, Halo and Geo-Force. While most of these heroes have been missing since the beginning of Rebirth, Katana has been a prominent member of the Suicide Squad, and Metamorpho is set to feature in the upcoming Metal spinoff, The Terrifics.
Knowing what is to come, and the fact that we haven't seen this team in action in Rebirth continuity, we have to wonder where they've been and what they've been doing.
In The Casting, Batman attempts to contact Black Lightning when he comes across a secret base in the Arizona desert. He mentions he wants his people to investigate the place and find out who runs it. Just then, he encounters the psychic mutant Dubbilex, long a part of the mysterious clone-creating Project Cadmus, who tells him that some organization has been experimenting on people by exposing them to the metal. Based on the psychic image he implants in Batman's head, these are the people who created the monster Damage, who just launched his own ongoing series. Will the Outsiders continue their investigation into the matter there, and will Project Cadmus become a major player in the DCU once more?