DARK NIGHTS: DEATH METAL: THE LAST 52: WAR OF THE MULTIVERSES #1/ Script by VARIOUS/ Art by VARIOUS/ Colors by VARIOUS/ Letters by VARIOUS/ Published by DC COMICS
Without a doubt, one of the most popular types of events you will find in the world of comics is the crossover event. Make no mistake, this is not to include such occurrences as Superman showing up in a Batman book; those things are commonplace nowadays. No, I mean Captain America meets Batman and they duke it out before realizing that they are on the same team (or at least tactically aligned) and take out the big baddie together. Unfortunately, since the Big Two have been withholding such a crossover event from us for over two decades, they’ve resorted to creating their own in-house events. Case in point: this book.
Within these pages lies the mother of all wars. All of DC’s multiverses fight against all of their dark multiverses for the fate of the all-inclusive Omniverse. On one end of the battlefield, you have Wonder Woman, now a full-blown goddess, squaring off against the Darkest Knight on the other. All of this is in the wake of the death of Perpetua, the Mother of All Creation. The legions of both sides seek out their other-dimensional counterparts for a series of battles, that find themselves chronicled in their own chapters.
The concept is rooted in a primal desire amongst fans; take your favorite characters and set them up against their biggest baddies. What tends to be the heaviest of nightmares is one’s inner demons, so it makes sense that the creators would pit our heroes and villains against the darkest versions of themselves. The execution of this endeavor was not as successful as you might hope for, though.
Before we begin to tear away, let us preface with a positive: the art on the book as a whole was enjoyable. The book is an anthology of stories from multiple creators. You will find different styles throughout the stories and you are sure to find some you like and others you do not. The authors and illustrators are accomplished names that you will recognize and appreciate.
Sadly, so many aspects of this project just fell flat. For the most part, the dark characters are underdeveloped and leave you with a general sense of malaise as you have zero investment in the characters or the overall motivation for their existence. This was much more Snidely Whiplash twirling his moustache at the thought of being evil for evil’s sake where we have grown accustomed to something closer to a villain snapping away half of existence in a misguided attempt to restore balance to the universe.
Between dry dialogue and a handful of cheap laughs, these stories seriously miss the mark. They are overburdened with exposition and prose that would almost feel out of place accompanying images. One of them, Apicius, was downright confusing. Hopefully you’ll make more sense of The Penguin’s story than I did.
The only story I felt was worth the read was Armageddon Blues. This was Constantine vs. Dark(er?) Constantine in a way only they could: getting to know each other over a drink in the only pub in the wasteland of Themyscira. I can’t help but chuckle as I think about how much it felt like The Nan In Black going in against a Sicilian when death is on the line. If you feel like eight pages of entertainment is worth $8.99, then I’d say grab this book. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it more than I did.