Forging a Path of Redemption  (Dark Nights Metal #4 Comic Review)

As Batman and Superman are held captive in the Dark Multiverse, Wonder Woman and the rest of the League seek out Nth Metal.  But not everybody is sympathetic to what is going on, Kendra has her own mission, and what in the world does Dream have to do with any of this?

DARK NIGHTS METAL #4
Authors:  Scott Snyder
Artists:  Greg Capullo
Inkers:  Jonathan Glapion
Colors:  FCO Plascencia
Publisher:  DC Comics

What You Need to Know:

Batman and Superman are stuck in the Dark Multiverse, captives of Barbatos while his minions run free.  Before all hell broke loose, Batman received help from the entity known as Dream, sometimes called Sandman, who has been missing since Barbatos’ arrival.

What You’ll Find Out: 

Bruce Wayne, horribly aged, is confronted by several versions of Clark Kent, spawned from Superman’s own nightmares of what he might become (one is even in Lex Luthor’s armor).  But even aged as he is, and standing in front of three different Supermen, Bruce has had enough and he breaks free, grabbing the real Superman and as the nightmares charge, Batman cries out for help.  Not for help from Superman, or help from any of the Justice League, but rather for help from the man known as Dream.  Bruce and Superman disappear in a blinding flash of light.

Batman

At the Rock of Eternity (at the cosmic center of the Universe…gotta love DC), Wonder Woman, Dr. Fate, and Kendra seek out the Nth metal, encountering the seven deadly sins, but instead of helping the heroes, the sins are attacking (for some reason this is a surprise).  As the sins are defeated, Aquaman and Deathstroke investigate under Atlantis, finding a portal that leads to additional Nth metal.

Meanwhile, Mr. Terrific and Green Lantern are on Thanagar Prime, seeking more of the Nth metal, the egg in tow.  They are escorted to the ruler of Thanagar, Onimar Slynn, who reveals that the Nth Metal they seek is a part of him.  He took the throne of Thanagar with the help of the most fearsome and powerful telepath in the universe:  Starro! (yes…Starro the Starfish).  Mr. Terrific pleads for help, pointing out how if Barbatos wins on Earth, his darkness will overtake everything.  But Onimar knows of Barbatos and knows of the dark multiverse and has a weapon ready to destroy the earth if it comes to that.  And the egg is the last thing he needed.  A net is thrown over the two heroes.  Lantern tries to break free, but his ring won’t respond as Starro is preventing his thoughts from going anywhere.

In the darkness, Batman and Superman see a figure in white.  Dream (aka Daniel, and a lot of other names) stands before them.  Batman is furious at Daniel’s seeming apathetic view of the entire situation.  But Daniel does not care about Bruce’s anger, instead of opening a book and bringing the heroes into a library of sorts.  The library contains stories of every dream.  It has a section that contains the horrors of humanity, dreams that should never exist.  Whatever Barbatos is doing is causing the nightmares to become reality and is burning the entire library.  Once the library is gone, there will be no more dreams.  Daniel cannot do anything directly against Barbatos, but he can tell a story; a story that will hopefully lead to the defeat of the monster.  He tells of the World Forge, from where everything in all universes came.  There exists a metal that is purer than Nth Metal which can destroy Barbatos.  But if he succeeds in pulling Earth-0 into darkness, it will be too late.  And if he has already turned the Forge dark it is also too late.  Daniel explains that he can open a portal to the World Forge but they must walk with hope and wonder in their hearts.

dream

For Superman, this is no problem, but Batman, who is partly responsible for all of this, has lost all hope.  He cannot make the trip.  Superman pleads, asking him to remember what gave him hope, why he did what he did.  Batman thinks of his family.  His children.  Damien.  Nightwing.  All of them.  They are his redemption.  They are his hope.

Batman and Superman fly through the portal to the World Forge.

At the center of the Multiverse, Wonder Woman and Dr. Fate continue their search for the Nth Metal, Hawkman’s mace.  Kendra, however, is missing.  They find her with the Anti-Monitor’s brain (um…ew?), poised to throw it through the multiverse’s center into the dark multiverse.  The Council of Immortals had instructed her to do so, but Wonder Woman pleads with her not to.  Yes, it could destroy the Dark Multiverse, but it could also destroy everything.  The choice is taken from her as Kendra doubles over in pain.  Metal wings tear through her body from the inside.  A metallic bird woman stands in her place:  Lady Blackhawk.  Dr. Fate prepares to leap to her aid, but a lightning bolt strikes him as Black Adam appears.  Turns out him and Vandal Savage struck a deal with Barbatos.

lady blackhawk

As Superman and Batman emerge from the portal into the World Forge, they find it has gone dark.  Their worst fears have been realized.  But more than that…  Carter Hall guards the World Forge.  And he does not welcome them as friends.

What Just Happened? 

Whew.  This issue….  Wow.  Okay, so considering the past 3 issues along with the Batman dream issue and all the one-shots…  this issue on its surface seems boring.  After all, it has the unforgiving task of setting up the second half of the Metal Saga.  And that is never fun.  Compared to the previous books, it almost deserves a lower score because it just seems…boring.

It took me 2 additional times reading it to realize that would be a serious injustice to what is a fantastic book.  It may not be the best of the Metals, but it’s not the worst.  And the middle of the road for the Metal series is still above anything else I’m reading these days.

There’s very little that I dislike of this book, but let’s get that out of the way…  it took me 3 reads to really enjoy this book and it makes some very old DC references that a casual reader may not get.  Luckily, I have Google.  But Starro?  Really?  I can’t help that Snyder added him and was snickering the entire time.  Starro?  A-friggin’ telepathic starfish?  He seemed thrown in as a gag.  I also thought the idea of Wonder Woman and team fighting the Seven Deadly Sins was a bit wasted.  It was bad enough that they seemed surprised that the sins were fighting them (hello!  They’re called “deadly sins” for a reason) but it also seemed pointless to have them in there.

But everything else about this book was fan-freaking-tastic.  Dream/Daniel’s role and the library was a callback to the Sandman volumes that I loved years ago (I may have to re-read them now).  Having Daniel in here now makes sense as we see the end plan of Barbatos.

Capullo’s art was outstanding.  Hard to believe how far he came from taking up the reigns after Liefeld’s departure from X-Force to now be able to deliver such an epic tale with such beautiful precision.  The library is magical, the scene of Batman and Superman entering the book is trippy, and the single page epicness of Lady Darkhawk and then Carter Hall are…well…epic.

Carter Hall

And finally, Batman’s start of redemption.  It was heartbreaking to hear how he had lost all hope, how he had fallen so far into despair with all of his failures paraded in front of him.  But with Superman’s help, Batman finds that small sliver of wonder in his family.  He may be a failure but they will surpass him in every way imaginable and what he does is for them.  He is a true father.  Not just to Damien, but to all of them.

Rating: 9/10.

Final Thoughts:  All hope seems lost, and even though we’re far from over, Snyder gives us that glimmer of hope, that small sense that all is not gone, that the heroes will win.  It’s a wonderful issue, with some odd choices from the pantheon of DC villains, but they don’t distract much.  We get a glimpse into how the rest of the DC Universe is handling the crisis on Earth and we get a lot more from Dream!

 

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