THE FORCES OF DOOM HAVE WON! The goddess Perpetua has taken over Earth Prime, and is destroying all realities so she can restart everything in her image. Her lieutenant, the Batman Who Laughs, enforces her whims across Earth, aided by an army of evil Batmen from the Dark Multiverse. All resistance has been crushed, and even Earth’s heroes have been press-ganged into servitude. Or have they?
To say DC’s continuity is convoluted is being generous at best, and probably a bit of an insult to convolution. It’s especially taken a beating in the last four years, since the company’s Rebirth initiative to rehab its flagging New 52 image has wound up largely abandoned as the promise of returning hope as the company’s keystone was derailed by behind-the-scenes disorganization, a perpetually delayed Doomsday Clock, and vanity projects like Heroes in Crisis hijacking the narrative.
Through all that, though, Scott Snyder has been shepherding his own attempt at redefining DC continuity, and although it seems to contradict Doomsday Clock (creating the unfortunate scenario in which its necessity to continuity seems to be utterly discarded), the work he began in 2017’s Dark Knights: Metal, segueing into the Justice League: No Justice mini, and then onward through his regular Justice League has at last come to fruition with Dark Knight: Death Metal #1, an insanely over-the-top power chord of a comic that assaults readers like a twenty-foot amp stack turned up to eleven.
Death Metal presents a world turned on its head in the most insanely metal ways possible. Joker Dragons freely roam the sky. Wonder Woman guards the entrance to Hell. Dark Multiverse Batmen police with impunity. (And one of them’s a t-rex.) Batman uses a Black Lantern ring to raise some zombies. Superman is nowhere to be seen, but he’s mentioned to have almost succumbed to the Anti-Life Equation. Up is down. Black is white.
And throughout, Snyder does what he does best: brings an unrestrained sense of pure fun to every panel, every page.
Although Death Metal is the swan song of a years-long storyarc, it’s also a salient attempt to clean up DC’s cluttered continuity. Snyder coyly ties crises past to Perpetua and her machinations (even from behind the Source Wall), trying to bring meaning and logic and coherence to DC’s many reboots and retcons. To borrow a phrase from my colleague Cody White, this leaves Doomsday Clock as the lingering fart in the room, because Snyder’s thesis directly contradicts the story of Dr. Manhattan’s own tampering with DC’s continuity. Yet the issue also features Wally West, who recently and most definitely has had dealings with Doc M in the Flash Forward miniseries… so where does that leave continuity? How do the two reconcile? Is DC abandoning Doomsday Clock in favor of the less-controversial Death Metal approach? Is anyone steering the ship at DC since Dan DiDio was fired? Why does my head have to hurt so much trying to work all this out? Does it even matter?
All that aside, though, there’s no denying Death Metal is a rip-roaring fun comic. And it wouldn’t be half as good without Snyder’s longtime collaborator Greg Capullo along for the ride. Capullo is pulling out all the stops with this one, drawing the hell out of every insane concept Snyder comes up with. And it works fantastically. Capullo has clearly found his perfect muse in Snyder, because their ongoing decade-long collaboration has brought out the best in the artist at every turn. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Snyder is giving him juicy and tantalizing things to draw like Clayface Batman or Etrigan Batman or the floating upper torso of Sergeant Rock. Who wouldn’t want to go all-out on that?!
In the end, continuity quibbles aside, Dark Knights: Death Metal #1 is everything you could possibly want in a comic. And if it isn’t, then why are you even reading comics anyway?!
Dark Knights: Death Metal #1 is more fun than a barrel of used death metal CDs. Big, fun, and utterly over the top, the fate of the DCU being at stake couldn't possibly be a louder power chord!
Dark Knights: Death Metal #1: Eaten Back to Life
Writing - 10/1010/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 9.5/109.5/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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