DARK NIGHTS: DEATH METAL: THE LAST STORIES OF THE DC UNIVERSE #1/ Stories by JOSHUA WILLIAMSON, JAMES TYNION IV, SCOTT SNYDER, JEFF LEMIRE, MARIKO TAMAKI, GAIL SIMONE, CHRISTOPHER SEBELA, CECIL CASTELLUCCI & MARK WAID/ Art by TRAVIS MOORE, RAFAEL ALBUQUERQUE, DANIEL SAMPERE, MEGHAN HETRICK, CHRISTOPHER MOONEYHAM, MIRKA ANDOLFO & FRANCIS MANAPUL// Colors by TAMRA BONVILLAIN, IVAN PLSCENCIA, ADRIANO LUCAS, MARISSA LOUISE, ENRICA EREN ANGIOLINI, ANDREW DALHOUSE & FRANCIS MANAPUL/ Letters by DERON BENNETT, STEVE WANDS, SAIDA TEMOFONTE, TRAVIS LANHAM, DAVE SHARPE & JOSH REED/ Cover by TULA LOTAY with DEE CUNNIFFE/ Variant Cover by GARY FRANK with BRAD ANDERSON/ Published by DC COMICS
What would you do if you had one night left to live?
It’s a small sentence for a big question, yet it lies at the heart of every story in Dark Nights: Death Metal: The Last Stories of the DC Universe. Set on the eve of the final battle between the survivors of the Multiverse and the forces raised by the Batman Who Laughs, the heroes and villains of dozens of realities gather together for what will, for some of them, almost certainly be the last night of their lives, one way or the other. It would be easy to glibly dismiss this as business as usual for the DC multiverse, which seems to reboot its reality every decade or so, but the writers of this issue treat this moment with the gravity it deserves.
Even the weakest of these chapters resonates. The strongest of them could stand alongside Alan Moore’s Whatever Happened To The Man of Tomorrow? or Parallax: Emerald Night as the greatest stories ever written about a hero’s final battle. I’m hard pressed to pick a favorite, as there are so many wonderful moments in this issue, though I did enjoy Dick Grayson’s desperate attempts to declare his love for a “too busy to deal with this now” Barbara Gordon and Oliver Queen’s best effort to try and give Black Canary a proper first date among the ruins of Themyscira.
What can I say? I’m a romantic.
The frame story involving the Titans does deserve special mention, as it hand-waves any question of continuity regarding just how all the Titans are there, even as it makes reference to several recent storylines. The final message is that, in the end, your real family will accept you and continue to love you despite your mistakes.
I should also note that it is a pleasure to read Mark Waid writing Superman again and I hope the Powers that Be at DC Comics will finally show the good sense to bring Mark Waid back, as a writer if not an editor, and let him handle the Man of Steel on a regular basis once again.
The artwork is uniformly excellent as well and I once again find myself hard-pressed to single out any one aspect as being better than the rest. Perhaps I’m biased as a fan of Daniel Sampere, Francis Manapul and Rafael Albuquerque. Yet I also enjoyed the work of Meghan Hetrick, whose work I’ve never seen before but reminds me a bit of Otto Schmidt and I love Otto Schmidt. I also enjoyed Christopher Mooneyham’s take on the underwater world of Aquaman and the depth of his work, no pun intended. The whole color art team deserves praise as well.
Even if you haven’t been buying the Dark Nights: Death Metal saga up until now, it’s well worth picking up this issue to see this all-star team of creators at work. There’s not a dud comic in the bunch and these would all be fitting final stories for these heroes, even if I thought there were a chance these really would be their last stories. Once more into the breach!