The Last 52 - War of the Multiverses #1
It's the end of the world as we know it, and nobody feels particularly fine. As the final battle against the Darkest Knight's forces rages, The Last 52: War of the Multiverses provides some ground-level battles between your favorite characters and their darkest reflections...
All this and Wonder Woman versus the Darkest Knight!
Okay, okay… one last tie-in before the big, loud, noisy Death Metal finale next week. Some readers may be rolling their eyes at one last-ditch effort to milk this narrative for all it’s worth, but hold onto your hats, sports fans, because this one’s really good!
That’s not at all sarcastic commentary on the dearth of event comic over-saturation in our current comics landscape (okay, maybe a little) – Dark Nights: Death Metal: The Last 52 – War of the Multiverses #1 really and truly does have readers’ best interest at heart, highlighting the little slices of humanity that exist on a battlefield. It also wants to hold the record for most subtitles in a major comic publication.
These types of jam comics can be notoriously difficult to pull off in a cohesive fashion; all too often, conflicting writing styles and voices clash, creating a disjointed reading experience – to say nothing for the veritable army of different art styles to be had, to boot. The Last 52 manages to overcome these standard barriers to success (or at least cohesion) by maintaining a strong running theme through the various narratives: hope. Hope is perhaps best typified by Superman (and boy, does Magdalene Visaggio hit that theme home in the best way possible for her Superman yarn with roaring success), but as the final survivors of the multiverse fight against desperately overwhelming odds for survival, hope is virtually the only thing they have left to cling to.
That hope manifests itself in myriad ways: Atom Ryan Choi (yay!) finds renewed sense of purpose; Batman learns to laugh at the strangest time possible; Wonder Woman lets loose some questionably out-of-character profanity that nonetheless packs a wallop; Swamp Thing brings life where death reigns supreme. The writers have a seeming unified sense of purpose and are all paired with strong artists to match. The duo of James Tynion IV and Alex Maleev are particularly potent; the only qualm I’d have about their Bat-tale is that the Batman Who Laughs’ dialogue balloons are nearly impossible to read with their red-on-black design.
Matthew Rosenberg cuts his DC teeth with a fun if predictable John Constantine story that is bolstered by panic-worthy art by Rob Guillory (Farmhand, Chew); DC, if you’re listening, you might want to consider Mr. Rosenberg for your inevitable Hellblazer relaunch. In just a few short pages, the man proves he gets the cut of Constantine’s jib. And while I’d hoped for a small preview of Ram V’s upcoming Swamp Thing run, Justin Jordan swings in to write that tale instead, and has no problem channeling Alec Holland’s voice without sounding like he’s trying to ape Alan Moore. Solid storytelling that even allows room for a brief miniature Gotham City Monsters almost-reunion!
Not all of the stories hit equally hard, though. Newcomer Che Grayson struggles to find anything new or interesting to say about Raven and the Teen Titans; Regine Sawyer writes a Lois Lane who’s weirdly out-of-character for the level of fear and general lack of certainty she displays. Artist Aletha Martinez does something very odd with Lois’ makeup that at first made me think I’d stumbled onto a Punchline story instead. The end result simply falls flat, even if the notion of an evil Lois Lane who hates superheroes and murdered them all is, at its heart, rife with potential. Meanwhile, the aforementioned Ryan Choi Atom story winds up being something of a letdown, too, falling into pretty standard “hero remembers why he fights” tropes. The story could have used more of a reason to focus on Choi instead of pretty much any other hero; as it stands, pretty much any other hero could have been subbed in and the story would have played out the same.
And then, there’s the just plain beautifully weird: Marguerite Bennett shows that the Penguin – yes, the Penguin – is more than capable of holding his own when stacked up alongside DC heavyweights Superman, Batman, and so forth. I don’t think anyone was expecting a Penguin solo story at the end of the world, but dammit, we got it and it is insane. Throw in some appropriately gritty art by Inaki Miranda, and you have a dark horse contender for best story of the bunch. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
In all, The Last 52 is, probably, inessential to the overarching Death Metal narrative. Aside from some fighting and philosophizing between Wonder Woman and the Darkest Knight, no one story can claim to advance the plot all that much. But that is beside the point. These are tales of humanity and bravery in defiance of Armageddon, and even if some may scoff and say they’re superfluous, at the end of 2020, a little hope at the end of the long, dark tunnel is exactly what the doctor ordered.
Dark Nights: Death Metal: The Last 52 - War of the Multiverses #1 is a comic about hope, timed perfectly to coincide with the end of the longest, darkest year most have seen in a lifetime. It isn't perfect, but if it doesn't make you smile as heroes rage in defiance of certain doom, I don't know what will.
Dark Nights: Death Metal: The Last 52 – War of the Multiverses #1: Human
Writing - 8/108/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 7.5/107.5/10
Color - 8/108/10
Cover Art - 7/107/10
User Review( votes)