There is an assumption that many people seem to have about these reviews of mine. They seem to think that this was an excuse to just slag off Batman and make a meal of it. That was never the case. I gave Dark Days: The Forge and The Casting bad reviews because I didn't think they were particularly good. I've given the issues of Batman I read bad reviews because I honestly thought they were pretty bad. I may use some hyperbolic language in my reviews, but my opinions were not sensationalized for the purpose of the review. I genuinely felt that way about those comics.
As such, if I had liked The Forge or "The War of Jokes and Riddles," I would have said so. There is still something to talk about in regards to me not liking the Batman and talking about how the comics managed to still be enjoyable in either how the story plays out or how they present the character of Batman.
That brings us to Dark Nights: Metal #1.
This story begins with a brief rundown of the tribes of the Wolf, the Bear, the Bird, and the Bat, as told by the diary of Carter Hall. It then turns to the Justice League (sans Simon and Jessica, replaced by Hal Jordan) being forced to fight the machines of Hiro the Toyman by the despotic Mongul, now in charge of a War Moon. The League is without their powers, and they are having to get creative with how they bring down the robots.
How do they do this? Justice League Voltron. I'm not lying.
They return to Earth to find that a mountain has sprung up in Gotham. They investigate and run into the Blackhawks, led by Lady Blackhawk, AKA Kendra Saunders (Hawkgirl, for those keeping score). They bring them back to Blackhawk Island and explain to them the situation they're in. There is a Dark Multiverse, and its lord, Barbatos, is coming. Batman will be the sire of its arrival.
Dark Nights: Metal #1 is the first of the Dark Days/Nights issues that has really clicked for me, and not just because of Justice League Voltron or because Batman may turn into the villain of this whole affair.
The story is engaging. The characters and players interest me. Greg Capullo's artwork is very good. Sometimes it's just that simple, which the Dark Days issues were certainly not.
That's not to say that Dark Nights: Metal #1 isn't a tad convoluted itself or without its flaws. It's something of a major exposition dump, and it does the DC trademark teasing of other characters waiting in the wings who probably won't show up for another year or so. Batman is still being an arrogant bastard who is "protecting" his godlike teammates by not telling them what the hell is going on.
In regards to the ample exposition: it does kind of work in this issue. Forge and Casting were hard to swallow because the comics presented a bunch of obfuscated nonsense that has no emotional bearing on DC Comics as we know it. They raised a lot of questions without giving a reason to care what the answer is. This issue finally answers some of those questions while actually advancing a plot.
The promise of Cthulhu-esque unknowable evil god from beyond the stars does pique the interest my Lovecraft-loving self. I love unknowable evil gods from beyond the stars.
(Spoiler Territory): The arrival of Kendra Saunders, the Blackhawks, Red Tornado, and Challengers' Mountain does have me hoping this comic will actually involve these characters and their associates for more than a page or two. Also, if Kendra shot Batman, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, right? I'm sure you all totally agree with me on that. Let Dick be Batman again.
It still bothers me that we're assigning a destiny narrative to Batman and the Waynes. If I have to tell you how unnecessary that is, then you don't understand the parts of Batman's story that actually do work sometimes. He's just a (rich) man. He shouldn't need some convoluted backstory explanation as to why and how he was always going to be the Batman.
The pacing and portioning out of the story in Dark Nights: Metal #1 is a little rocky, too. The episode on Mongul's War Moon takes up a lot of time with minimal bearing on the main plot of the story. It could have been greatly abridged with the remainder of the story advancing of the plot further than it does. I love Mongul, and Justice League Voltron did tickle me. However, not all of it, if really any, was that necessary to the plot of Metal.
As I said, Capullo's artwork is as good as it ever was. This guy was always phenomenal at drawing the world of Batman, even if I'm not that interested in that world. The characters look cool, the world looks grainy and harsh, and the faces are excellent at showing subtle emotion.
The color art of FCO Plascencia is a mixture of deep dark colors and pales, and that works really well for the ominous atmosphere of this story, as well.
So yeah, Dark Nights: Metal #1 was actually pretty solid. I enjoyed it far more than its preamble issues, and it finally clicked for me. I'm fairly interested in what's to come. Feel free to grab this one when you see it.