Dark Knights: Metal #1 Review

Written by: Scott Snyder

Art by: Greg Capullo & Johnathon Glapion

Publisher: DC Comics

Metal is the genre of music I gravitate towards when I’m pissed off. The raging guitars, pounding percussion, and brutal vocals that define the genre make venting easy. I can get angry, turn on some Dillinger Escape Plan, and come out on the other side feeling serene, ready to rejoin civilization.

At the end of Dark Nights: Metal, I felt a great need to listen to some of the genre.

Taken as a whole package, I didn’t hate this issue. But the cliffhanger, much like the Watchmen reveal last May, left a bad taste in my mouth. If the quality of this issue is anything to go by, Metal is ill-equipped to properly handle the characters and world that they have re-introduced to the DC universe. Of course, there is merit to it. Had this issue not been so meandering and poorly focused, I may even be excited.

As you may have guessed, this issue certainly doesn’t feel like the same Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo that gave us The New 52’s Batman. Gone is the smart, introspective dialogue that defines much of Snyder’s body of work, replaced by boatloads of exposition. The sheer amount of text in this issue is daunting, and seems especially needless considering the one-shots that preceded it.

And, to be clear, I was not expecting Metal to have the philosophical ponderings of A.D: After Death. I calibrated my expectations to the pitch–a balls-to-the-wall, metal-as-fuck story that happened to star the Justice League. Building lore and plot into that is fine by me, but not when it’s dense enough to necessitate three issues of backstory and exposition that is presented solely in the form of overlong dialogue bubbles.

Of course, maybe all that is still to come. We get a little taste of it in this issue’s opening, which sees the Justice League battling on War World. Capullo’s designs are goofy, yet remarkably badass. The sequence is fun to look at, in spite of some clunky dialogue. Had this issue given me more of that, I could have excused some writing flaws solely because it was fun.

Unfortunately, I don’t know if the last page reveal is compatible with what I thought the pitch for Metal was. Ultimately, it has to be one or the other–a faithful, loving use of a critically acclaimed character, or a fun romp through the DC Universe. Attempting to simultaneously accomplish both undermines the ethos of the other.

Despite Snyder maybe not being at the top of his game here, Capullo is as solid as ever. He works with what he’s given, and pages seeing Batman riding a dinosaur and silhouettes of other-worldly horrors offer pleasant eye candy. Johnathon Glapion and FCO Plascencia’s inks and colors complement the work Capullo does perfectly, as per usual. The trio is one of the best art teams in comics.

And yet, they aren’t enough to salvage the issue. It hurts to say that, because I know that Snyder is capable of better. He’s penned some of my absolute favorite comics, and Metal should be no different. Especially because he’s positioned it as his passion project! I’ll be reading more of Metal in the hopes that it’ll get better, but this is a rough start to what should have been an easy home run for DC.