Comic Review: Dark Nights: Metal 1

There’s going to be a lot of platitudes about this series, this book, jangling around the comics community in the near future. Heck, it was difficult not to be hyped up for this event by the promotional materials and preludes, but my lord…

Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s “Metal” event for DC basically encapsulates what comic fans love about comics.

 Scott Snyder (left) and Greg Capullo

Scott Snyder (left) and Greg Capullo

It starts off with the Justice League in a predicament: they’re coated in armor that looks dope, but the reader then finds out that the armor isn’t protecting them, it’s hindering them. They’re locked in gladiatorial combat in front of Mongul’s throes, at the mercy of some of Toyman’s savage inventions.

It’s a joyous welcome to the series, showing the individual members dealing with the threat, setting the table as to how they function in a group dynamic. We get a cool sense of the hierarchy of the Justice League for this story, ostensibly showing the pecking order of who leads battle (Wonder Woman), who does logistics (Cyborg), who serves as the brains (Batman), etc.

This is pretty big screen popcorn fun, where Batman uses his noodle to place the League in a tactical advantage, and it’s fun to read the rest of the heroes’ doubts and concerns melt away to the thrill of success. Also: big ****ing awesome visuals from Capullo.

And then: BAM! Opening credits.

Alfred then summons the League to Gotham where a big damn mountain is suddenly present, and they are naturally drawn to inspect it. Personally, this is where the story absolutely grabbed hold of my being: the heroes find that this is actually a headquarters, wherein they find Red Tornado and others in stasis, and are confronted by a revamped Blackhawks team, led by none other than Kendra “Hawkgirl” Saunders!

Snyder shines in the explanation by Saunders as he weaves older DC properties into the narrative in an organic way. Saunders mentions the Challengers of the Unknown, the fighter plane version of the Blackhawks, TO Morrow, Will Magnus & the Metal Men, and offers some much-needed context to the new version of Hawkman, who suffered greatly post-Flashpoint. Snyder is giving him some serious background here, inciting an excitement for the character I haven’t felt since Geoff Johns perfected him in JSA. Capullo also nails the vintage Blackhawks portrait and throws in a portrait of the Will Payton version of Starman, which coaxed an audible guffaw from me.

 File this under: Characters I  NEVER  thought I'd see again EVER

File this under: Characters I NEVER thought I'd see again EVER

Can we also just take a moment to revel in the art? Capullo displays the exposition in Challenger Mountain with all the tension of a taut thriller, and really nails the quick panels of vintage characters. His action is frenetic, especially the Batman escape from the mountain, causing the scenes to pop really well. And all hail his Batman – he designed the new costume and he arguably does the best interpretation, highlighted by that dark, angular cowl. Also, no one does a better harried, concerned Alfred.

However, it is a bit jarring at first to see Capullo’s stuff without the tight, clean inks of Danny Miki, but Jonathan Glapion provides a more rugged look, a more organic feel. FCO Plascenscia also had to use a VERY broad palate to color the book, tackling wildly varied environments from an alien arena to a dinosaur-filled jungle, and bringing warmth to the characters. His Kendra Saunders is mesmerizing, from her exotic skin tones to her beautiful green eyes.

There should also be a large degree of praise for letterer Steve Wands; Great lettering can be so organic to a comic that it’s nearly unnoticeable, and bad lettering can ruin a comic by taking the reader out of the story. Wands weaves the narrative captions and word balloons perfectly into the frames, allowing the panels to breathe properly, and accentuates everything perfectly within the speech patterns.

Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo are pulling out all the stops here, setting the table for what should be a hell of a feast. This book is a love letter to DC history, as well as a neat pathway to an even better creative future – the Dark Matter line is being set up sublimely. I’m beyond excited to see what all springs from this first issue in terms of story, character development, and badass fun. This looks to be a series that reignites a passion for comics, and who the hell wouldn’t want that?

 

10 out of 10 Starman Mullets