IT'S COME TO THIS: The Darkest Knight versus the Dark Goddess Perpetua, with the entire multiverse hanging in the balance!
But as the cosmic drama unfolds, a new player enters the game... but who is the CHRONICLER, and is he friend or foe... or something else entirely?
PLUS: John Stewart and the assembled Green Lantern Corps lead a Carrier full of survivors through the crumbling Bleed... but is there any safe harbor remaining...?
Rise of the New God takes an unexpected turn from what readers might have expected from it, and is better for it as previews and solicits might create the impression that it’s a) slightly like filler and b) maybe another added element to Death Metal too many. But with that uncanny misdirection, it ends with a feeling of hope, which certainly shouldn’t be downplayed – especially given how relentlessly dark this story has been so far.
One might assume Rise of the New God is about the Darkest Knight (ne the Batman Who Laughs) throwing down with Perpetua on a grand, cosmic scale. That could have been pretty boring, honestly – and fortunately, writer James Tynion IV definitely recognizes that, and zigs instead of zags, making the multiverse-quaking clash between these two entities the background to a relatively smaller-scale, personal quest for discovery in storytelling. There’s meta-commentary to be sure, but at no point does it swerve into precious, self-congratulatory “look-how-clever-I-am” territory.
Adding yet another layer to the universal order, Tynion introduces the Chronicler, a “functionary of the source of all things,” i.e. the Omniverse – which, in the ever-expanding Troika doll of the DCU, is a level of reality above even the multiverse. For those having trouble keeping track: our universe resides within a multiverse of infinite realities, each crafted by the World Forge. Those realities that are “wrong” and thus unsustainable are cast aside to form the Dark Multiverse, a sort of dark reflection of the “right” worlds. The omniverse, then, is an ordered reality above these, and as Tynion writes it, the Chronicler functions as an abstract, passive observer for us, the readers. This is more implied than directly spelled out, but eagle-eyed readers should be able to read between the lines enough to make this connection. The Chronicler also has a book of worlds (a Codex Omniversa, which might be my favorite new phrase all year) logging worlds he has witnessed rise and fall; an inference could be made that both the Wildstorm and Milestone universes lie within. The information contained within the Codex is enough to humble even mighty Metron.
The Chronicler decides he needs more understanding about the multiverse so he can properly record it from start to finish, and as he talks to a wide assortment of characters throughout the DCU, realizes he believes in this world, and wants to see it survive. The Chronicler thus becomes a stand-in for disillusioned and perhaps lapsed DC fans, frustrated with constant continuity changes and/or reboots and wild verges into tonally inconsistent territory (i.e. “It’s too dark!”). But the message at the end is hope: this world is worth saving, because there is still good and wonder in it. Pay attention: Tynion is, hopefully, signaling to us the direction the DCU will be moving in post-Death Metal. (Well, post-Death Metal/post-Future State, I guess.)
What Tynion and his artistic chums Jesus Merino, Vicente Cifuentes, and Ulisses Arreola have pulled off here is a sneaky, subtle tip-of-the-hat to what makes DC great. It’s not the world outside your window, it’s a world of wonder and magic and hope and light that exists to inspire and tickle the imagination. It’s also their way of telling readers that no matter how dark things may seem right now, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s beautiful, unexpectedly hopeful and just a teensy bit subversive stuff.
That sentiment is carried forth in the back-up story starring John Stewart and the rest of the Green Lantern Corps as they navigate the Carrier (shout-out to The Authority!) throughout Bleedspace, desperately trying to find a safe haven to disembark their multiversal survivors. As all options fail one by one, only the deepest of Hail Marys will possibly make the difference. On top of building on the lead story’s themes, writer Bryan Edward Hill also successfully taps into what makes Green Lantern so great: it isn’t that any of them are fearless. It’s that they have the ability to overcome their fear. That may not be the most original sentiment in the character’s storied history, but it’s exactly what the doom and gloom of Death Metal needs right now. Far from being a throwaway backup story, “The Weight of Leadership” proves to be just the right dose of heroism the assorted Green Lanterns – and the world – could use a little more of.
Dark Nights: Death Metal - Rise of the New God #1 zigs where it's expected to zag and delivers a surprisingly heartfelt meta-commentary on what makes the DCU so great instead a banal cosmic throwdown. Highly recommended, even if you haven't been reading this story!
Dark Nights: Death Metal – Rise of the New God #1: Storm of the Light’s Bane
Writing - 8.5/108.5/10
Storyline - 9.5/109.5/10
Art - 8/108/10
Color - 8/108/10
Cover Art - 7/107/10
User Review( votes)