After the release of two prelude books, Dark Days: The Forge and Dark Days: The Casting the stage for DC Comics' first official crossover event of the Rebirth era, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Dark Nights: Metal is now officially set.
Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean the puzzle pieces have started to fit together just yet. With the prelude stories, the mysteries surrounding Metal have only gotten deeper, murkier, and more embroiled in DC Universe history.
With The Casting (illustrated by Andy Kubert, Jim Lee and John Romita Jr.) freshly released, CBR sat down with writer Scott Snyder [who co-wrote The Casting with James Tynion IV] to shed some light on the newest edition to the map of the Multiverse, and get some hints about what to expect from this summer's explosive rock 'n' roll event.
CBR: So, Scott, I know in the past you’ve talked really extensively about how much Metal has been seeded through your run on Batman in the New 52, but I think both The Forge and The Casting have made it pretty apparent that you’re mining from much, much more than that. What other books would you recommend completionist readers take a look at to prep for this summer?
Scott Snyder: That’s a great question! I’ve tried really hard to make it so that you don’t have to read anything but Metal -- but! To be perfectly honest, it ties to stuff going as far back as The Return of Bruce Wayne, and even earlier than that. It ties to Crisis on Infinite Earths, Infinite Crisis, to work by Grant [Morrison], it ties to Greg and I’s work… [Laughs] I don’t think there’s a lot of things you could read that you’d then feel like “Oh, this doesn’t work.” It ties to all of Geoff Johns’ Hawkman stuff, too. It’s -- [Laughs. It’s really a giant love letter to the DCU!
But really, I think it’s just that the prevailing wisdom has always been “it’s always better to go dark” and “scare ‘em into the store” -- you know, put the characters in the guillotine and ask “whose head is gonna get cut off?” And I get that! It worked on me! I was the one putting my quarters into the pay phone to see if Jason Todd was going to live or die -- though I canceled out my own vote, I voted once for yes and once for no -- But I honestly believe, and maybe this is just me, but it has been a really tough year all around. Not because of my politics, which are pretty obvious on Twitter, but for everybody. The divisiveness, the stress, the anger, it’s just been tough. I think that’s why movies like LEGO Batman and Wonder Woman, stories that are irreverently uplifting, are popular. I genuinely believe that it has nothing to do with being escapist, a movie like Wonder Woman isn’t escapist, but it’s also not grim and dark, it feels inspiring and celebratory.
Metal, for us, is a story about the ways in which you can find yourself in a terrifying situation, the day after you thought everything was going great. You can find yourself in a story that you never expected -- and everywhere you turn, there’s no way out of that story. But, you can do that in a way that says it’s going to be dinosaurs and robots and aliens and every crazy thing you can throw in there and have people standing up and cheering and enjoying it until it suddenly hits you, and you realize how emotional it was.
So one of the big reveals in The Casting is all about the Wizard and the Marvel family -- We definitely see a dagger in there with the insignia on it, too. Even though it’s in Black Adam’s colors, I’ve gotta ask: are we about to see Billy Batson’s Rebirth return?
Yeah, you might! Geoff has been incredibly generous with letting us work in the sandbox that he designed. You’re already seeing things like -- that is straight-up the Wizard, there’s no doubt about it, you know? And that is straight-up a dagger that has to do with Black Adam and Captain Marvel. That’s definitely what those things are.Similarly, that’s Plastic Man in the egg. But! There’s something else inside of Plastic Man that you don’t even know yet!
I want [Metal] to be like that, where you’re like, “Shut up! This is an awesome, I love it!” And then I get to be like “Well... guess what else?”
I really want that palpable fun where you pick it up and you feel like “this is why I read comics as a kid.” I feel like this mood is why there’s such a harkening back to '80s stuff right now. The '80s weren’t so great, but you want to go back to the things that you loved at a dark time to really remember you enjoyed and that you can enjoy that stuff again.
So one of the big motifs in The Casting is this idea of Bats vs. Birds -- It’s obviously directly related to a lot of stuff here, Hawkman, the Blackhawks, the Court of Owls -- but there’s one set of birds that hasn’t been called out yet. How is the Bats vs. Birds motif going to factor into the Robins, or even the rest of the Batman mythology?
Oh man, let me figure out a way to say this without spoiling. [Laughs] Let’s see... Well, I can say this. We wanted the war of Birds and Bats to be something that goes all the way back to early days of man, and even further than that, to a theological level. It’s almost cosmic in the story.
The idea is that there is a bat thing, in continuity, in DC history, that to me is totemic and could be as big as the things that inspire, like, pantheons and mythology. Or, maybe it’s older and more ancient and scary than that. So, in the way, it’s this thing that argues that the bat is a symbol of not just darkness, but something that works as a messenger from nightmares. It’s a symbol that Batman has actually co-opted to mean the reverse of that, where he’s taken the bat and made it about bravery and facing fear.
So this thing is going to say, “you took my symbol and I’m coming to get it back.” This thing wants to show how Batman is actually going to be the lever it pulls with all the alternate Dark Knights to [reclaim that symbol]. Batman thinks he’s a symbol that inspires people to do better but this thing wants to show that he’s actually something that makes everyone too afraid to ever go out in the light again.
To be really clear, it’s not an “evil Batman” story in terms of Bruce turning evil, but it is a story about evil Batmen where there are these multiple nightmare versions of Batman.
So, this relates to The Dark Multiverse, right?
Yeah. The way the Dark Multiverse works is that your fears and your fantasies exist there. There are 52 known universes in the Multiverse as we know it, right? But the ocean of the Dark Multiverse is roiling, fluid place, where anything you fear or think becomes material and then bubbles back back. But, if something down there decided they pluck the things from your nightmares and bring them here, to our universe, they could.
You know, if that thing, whatever it might be, could actually get here.
So that’s the idea. What if this thing says “oh, I know what you’re afraid of, Batman. You’re afraid of these possibilities where you did this to your friends.”
So we get a little glimpse into what might be a future for Duke Thomas in this issue, and The Joker of all people may or may not even give him his new superhero name. Is there a big future ahead for The Signal? Is that what we’re going to be calling him?
Well -- I would -- [Laughs] I’d like to say that we’re making an announcement soon! What I will say about The Signal, or Signal, is that Duke is a character I’ve had a lot invested in for a long time, and there’s been so many calls to get him his own book and his own name and his own story. But, I didn’t want to do it before I felt we had the right platform.
One of the reasons we put him in The Casting was to show his importance to us and spotlight the part of the mythology in Gotham that he’s actually essential to. So the other half of this, from just a logistics standpoint, is that I wanted this to be a place where I could bring in new talent.
I wanted it to be someone who I worked with in the workshop, that I taught, who was passionate about the character and had a really good taken on him. Dark Matter is [a chance] for me to put my money where my mouth is a little bit and say if Metal is about the creation of “new,” about doing a Crisis where nothing is old -- we don’t go back to Earth 2, there’s no Alexander Luthor, everything is about a new realm with new villains -- then new books, the Dark Matter books, should bring in new talent.
So there will be an announcement about Duke and Signal and all of that soon, and I’m very, very proud of it.
The other thing I’d say is that i think it’s a really cool concept just in that, Joker is actually really open about it. We’ve hinted at in previous stuff, but, to have something that actually makes a hero-by-day for Gotham is actually really cool. It’s something we haven’t seen and gives Duke a mythology that is brand new.
Now we can’t talk about The Casting without talking about the roster of art collaborators because there’s really no other way to say it: you’re working with a team of legends. What’s that process been like?
I pitched the story when I was out in Burbank over a year ago, right after I finished with Greg [Capullo] on our run. It was only really a few months after that Andy [Kubert] and Jim [Lee] and John [Romita Jr.] -- while I was working with John on All Star -- came in and said, "Let’s do this together. Let’s have really heavy hitting art on it.”
We pitched the first just using Andy or just using John, but part of the idea in Metal is all these recombinant materials and stories and ideas, so [we decided] why not use three artists to have it be something that says we’re all united behind this event.
It was an incredibly humbling moment that they felt like they could send a message of confidence to everybody that we all wanted to get behind this thing. It really means a lot to me.
I have to ask about Hal Jordan, since he’s such a prominent part of the story. He’s spent the majority of Rebirth out in space, save for a few cameos on Earth for guest spots in other books. What prompted your choice to use him?
I actually just spoke to the Green Lantern writers, Sam Humphries and Robert Venditi, and I just asked what the status of the Corps was come late summer/fall. It became clear that Hal would be back and that Simon [Baz] and Jessica [Cruz] would be out in space at the time. So that’s where the choice to use Hal came from, and Simon and Jessica will come back in when they get back from deep space in October or November.
So Simon and Jess will definitely play a part later on, Hal just happened to be the Green Lantern in the sector at the time.
I had a total blast writing Hal, honestly. I had one of my favorite moments -- I had to change it because we changed the setting, but at one point, there was a big fight in Metropolis between the Bat Family and the Justice League because they’re looking for Batman and so on. But there’s a moment where Hal chases Nightwing down an alley and the alley’s all painted yellow. So Hal says something like, “That... doesn’t work on me anymore, Dick.” And Dick’s like [defensively], “That actually just looked like that when we got here!” [Laughs.]
I love writing Hal, he’s confident. He’s like Evel Knievel.
Dark Days: The Casting is on sale now. Dark Nights: Metal #1 is scheduled for release on Aug. 16.