The final chords have played... the rapid-fire thud of the double-bass pedal is fading into the night as the echoes of the concert grow silent. The last yowls of the vocalist has wailed, and the house lights have gone down.
The end is here.
It's Dark Nights: Death Metal #7, and the DC Universe will never be the same!
2020 was a long, dark, fundamentally lifechanging year for pretty much everyone, so thematically, it’s fitting that Dark Nights: Death Metal – a comic that has been pretty dark and fundamentally lifechanging for the characters involved – were to coincidentally arrive at the same time.
But now it’s 2021, and the hope of a new year, and all the unseen promise of the possibilities to come has arrived, so it’s further fitting that Death Metal should conclude now, and end with a powerful note of optimism.
Death Metal has been the culmination of everything Scott Snyder has been working on at DC since 2011, amazingly – starting with his and Greg Capullo’s fabled Batman run, then winding through the original Metal, Justice League: No Justice, and at last his epic Justice League run. It’s been a long, strange trip, but there’s no denying: Scott Snyder has been the driving creative force behind the DCU for the past ten years. All that work, all that meticulous seed-planting and myth-building and continuity-busting and balls-out EPIC storytelling – where no idea was too small to be cool (Jarro, buddy, take a bow) – culminates here, at the dawn of a new year, with endless possibilities before us all.
When last we saw our heroes (and villains!), they were outnumbered 100 (or more) to one in final battle against the combined multitudes of the Dark Multiverse, while Wonder Woman, empowered with anti-crisis energy and perfectly golden, was about to throw down with the nigh-omnipotent Darkest Night. Suffice to say – even with the most powerful version of Diana ever conceived battling with the Batman Who Laughs for all the marbles – things did not look good for the good guys.
And that’s precisely where Death Metal #7 picks up at. Despite the smaller-scale and more intimately character-focused collection in last week’s The Last 52: War of the Multiverses one-shot, this is without a doubt the main show. As the stakes have gradually upped and grown more desperate throughout this series, Snyder has done an astounding job at making the reader feel it as the walls continue to close in on our heroes, as all hope continues to dwindle. Heroes never give up, Snyder seems to have been saying, but what if even that isn’t enough? At the end of the day, the Batman Who Laugh’s forces – and the creature himself – are simply too powerful, too vast, for a desperately weakened Batman, Superman, Harley, and everyone else to do much more than make a last stand. Imagine the final battle of Return of the King but without the benefit of Sam and Frodo destroying the ring as a path to victory.
While the heroes valiantly fight a doomed campaign on Earth, throughout the heavens, the universe, and time itself, Wonder Woman battles the Darkest Knight in the true battle that will decide which faction will truly succeed. And this is where Death Metal #7 elevates itself beyond the standard storytelling tropes or standards of event comics. Scott Snyder proves himself to be one of the savviest writers in a generation by using metaphors for editorial edict and fanbase appeasement to shape the battle in unexpected but brilliant ways. The metacommentary goes deeper than that, though (and manages to succeed in not being a distraction or glibly self-satisfied with how clever it is) – touching on the interplay of fandom with characters and ending with Diana having to make a desperate choice between the lesser of two evils – except that maybe she doesn’t. It’s complicated, brilliant, heartfelt, and nobody will see it coming. And, as a bonus, it does an astounding job of setting up Future State without feeling egregious or shoehorned in.
Of course, Snyder isn’t a one-man band. His artistic wingman, Greg Capullo, turns out some of the most flat-out mind-blowing work of his entire career. This is a story – and the finale is no different – that demanded a particular level of scope to capture it, and Capullo (with inker Jonathan Glapion and colorist FCO Plascencia) turn in Eisner-worthy page after page after page. Tom Napolitano’s brilliant letters should close down any argument as to whether or not letterers are artists, too (they are). It all comes together in a gorgeous cacophony of artistic brilliance, each contributor deftly playing off the others to craft as perfect a product as can be imagined.
If your eyes aren’t seared by the time you’re done reading it, you’ve been reading with your eyes shut. Give your self time to really scan the details of each page, particularly in the battle scenes. Capullo isn’t afraid to do terrible things to favorite characters. But at no time is it garish or done for shock value, but rather, to reinforce not only the horrors of war and also to effectively communicate the stakes being fought for. There are no favorites here; war is indiscriminate and anyone who survives can owe it to more luck than skill. And sometimes, everyone just gets slaughtered. That may sound like a terribly down thing to say, but it’s a hard truth – and Greg Capullo delivers that message with disquieting aplomb. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
And in the end, for all its bombast and power chords, darkness and terror, Dark Nights: Death Metal ends on a note of optimism. &%$#, it would have to at this point. It’s been said before, and who knows – five years from now, it may be said again – but right now, the future is wide open for DC, and it will never be the same again. Or maybe a better cliche would be, “What’s old is new again.” This issue feels like the proper capstone for the entire Rebirth era, one that was predicated on a return of hope and optimism and familiar faces doing familiar things, and despite some unplanned twists and turns, that era is now drawing to a close. DC has effectively re-established its identity, now, it’s time to turn to the future and see what the next era looks like – with a smile on their heroes’ faces and the possibilities endless – an infinite frontier. A job well-done to everyone involved.
The future is wide open in the appropriately epic Dark Nights: Death Metal #7. Tomorrow is now, and no fan will want to miss it!
Dark Nights: Death Metal #7: Spiritual Healing (SPOILER-FREE REVIEW!)
Writing - 10/1010/10
Storyline - 10/1010/10
Art - 10/1010/10
Color - 10/1010/10
Cover Art - 10/1010/10
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