Dark Nights: Metal #1 is finally out this week, and we see DC's big summer event finally start proper. We've had the hints, the glancing blows from the Dark Days prologue issues, which gave us the shape of the idea, like a sonar blip on the map – but now we see it in full view, and it's as bombastic and wild as promised.
Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion and FCO Plascencia (or should that be Doom Commander, Pain Bringer, Guillotine and Killer?) bring us an explosive open that starts big. The slow build was in the prologue – this is an EVENT. Start with a bang! And that is just what they do.
This issue has dinosaurs, city-wide destruction, murder machines, gladiators, mechs and surprise appearances. And I am not kidding on that last part, there is a final reveal that is so surprising it's sure to damn near knock people out of their seats (as well as having a neat little metal connection of its own).
The mystery that Batman has been investigating goes a little deeper, and we get some hints as to where it's going. I certainly have a few theories, but I will say I am fully expecting to be surprised.
A big part of that comes from the fact Snyder et. al. have gone the other way than most other comics creators and publishers seem to be thinking for these large scale events. While most seem to be aiming to go as gritty, grim and sensational as possible, with political stories aimed to be so deeply dividing as to generate heated debate as a sales tactic (one which frankly, the audience is getting wise to and is starting to lose patience with), Snyder et al. lean heavy in the other direction.
This is not to say it doesn't have darkness or seriousness. Far from it, the consequences for several characters, and the wider DCU are dire and not shied away from. But there's a joy in this story. It's hard not to read these pages with a broad grin with the next crazy set piece or wild revelation. This is a story that derives fun out of taking advantage of what a comic can do/show: anything!
The story is about waking up to the world around you and seeing it's darkness and the nightmares that seem to pile up more and more, and instead of cowering or matching the ferocity and actions of those horrors, fighting back with joy and mirth and, ultimately, hope.
It's kind of nice to see and feel this different energy in an event story which is less about breaking things down and being all 'the status quo will be irrevocably changed (until next summer when it will irrevocably change again!)' and much more about going wild with what's there and coming up with crazy, fun and new ideas. It's in fact timely. We're celebrating the centenary of Jack Kirby, who revelled in wild, crazy new ideas and Dark Nights: Metal #1 honours that legacy well – it takes the fun parts of the superhero mythos and rocks out with them, creating wild new things.
It's amazingly kind of conspiratorial with the reader too. Less 'look at this thing you love, we're going to break it down and build it back up again before your eyes' and more, 'hey, you know what would be cool? Batman riding a dinosaur on a magic island as people want to kill him, right?'. It feels much more like an event designed to bring the reader in and have fun with them, and blow their minds in an entertaining way rather than a rip up their dreams way.
Dark Nights: Metal #1 is a bombastic, twisted thrill ride that invites the reader to come in and enjoy, rather than stand back and be shocked. Metal surprises, but in the best way. Put those horns up. Rock the **** out!