The Multiverse Who Laughs
…Thus begins the framing sequence for Dark Nights: Death Metal – The Multiverse Who Laughs #1 (which is a confusing title, since it should be a multiverse that laughs), in which the Robin King breaks the fourth wall and addresses readers directly, talking about how terrible/awesome the Dark Multiverse is, and giving a one-panel-each rundown on several of its misfit denizens as examples of why they are so terrible/awesome. There’s also a tortured bit about how the only way to stop hearing rehashes of the Big 3’s origins is to flood the room with twisted variations. It’s a by-the-numbers intro, but adequately sets the tone for what readers should expect going in: dark and/or darkly humorous twisted tales from the Dark Multiverse, with familiar faces no longer familiar. (Like Elseworlds, but, uh, Dark and Multiversal.)
Somehow, this framing sequence has three writers to its credit: Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, and Josh Williamson. I have absolutely no idea why it took three writers to cobble this together, and it should be noted that it isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s incredibly basic. There’s nothing unique about it. However, in its own way, it’s a harbinger of what’s to come: a Frankenstein’s monster of talent and characters mishmashed together to questionable effect.
Like the opening sequence, none of the tales within are really bad. But there isn’t much to them to justify buying the comic either, unless readers are okay with anthology books. To each their own. That particular format lends itself to lots of different story variations; DC is practically built on the things. But 21st-century readers probably want more substantive bang for their buck. There’s nothing wrong in theory with Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti writing a flat-out hilarious story about the Super-Pets gone very, very wrong or funnyperson Patton Oswalt crafting a tale about a Mr. Zsasz being jealous that other Arkham inmates are getting “special” treatment that he isn’t. The art is decent, too: horror comic veteran Tom Mandrake makes a spooky return to form in the final story, starring Steel; Scot Eaton brings old-school flair to a twisted take on the GL/GA team. But these elements alone simply don’t equal to a sum of parts.
None of the stories within, though, make much of a lasting impression. Nor do they add anything to the ongoing Death Metal narrative, which begs the question: Why should readers care enough to plunk down their hard-earned $5.99 to buy The Multiverse Who Laughs? I really can’t say. The book doesn’t do enough to justify its own existence, unfortunately. What could have been a fun opportunity for some truly talented creators to flex their muscles and go completely bananas just winds up being a forgettable wash.
Dark Nights: Death Metal - The Multiverse Who Laughs #1 is a hodgepodge of great creative talent given free reign to create an anthology that should be a whirlwind of psychotic fun but instead just falls flat. Without a concrete reason to justify its existence, readers will be hard-pressed to care, especially at its steep price point.
Dark Nights: Death Metal – The Multiverse Who Laughs #1: Blessed Are the Sick
Writing - 5/105/10
Storyline - 5/105/10
Art - 5/105/10
Color - 5/105/10
Cover Art - 5/105/10
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