Dark Nights: Metal started eight long months ago, and in the time since we’ve learned a lot. We’ve learned new details about the very creation of the DC Multiverse, about the heretofore unknown Dark Multiverse, and the origins of some of the nightmares that populate it. We’ve learned about Barbatos’ plans to suck the Earth into the Dark and our heroes’ plans to stop him. In Dark Nights: Metal #5 those plans all come to a head, and as the story gears up for the approaching climax things do not look good for Batman and the rest of the Justice League.
The League’s spent the past few issues trying to get their hands on the universe’s last remaining fragments of cosmic metal, and in Metal #5 they finally do, only to have it all snatched away at the last moment. The Batman Who Laughs was wise to their plan the entire time, it seems, and the Dark Batman swooped in to take the metals from the League so they could use it to finish pulling Earth into the Dark Multiverse after Superman’s escape from Barbatos’ battery.
It’s not surprising that The Dark Batmen outsmarted the League here. There needed to be one more big complication before the climax, and there’s no bigger complication than the nightmare hordes of the Dark Multiverse finally breaking free. The logic behind the Batman Who Laughs’ plan doesn’t really hold up to close scrutiny, though. He tells Wonder Woman that they waited for the Justice League to acquire the metals because it was too dangerous for the Dark Batmen to approach them directly, yet they didn’t wait for the League to leave the locations where they found the metals before stealing them.
Given how powerful they are, I don’t see that the Leaguers did anything in those scenarios that the Dark Batmen couldn’t have done themselves. The only reason the narrative was structured like this was to give the appearance that the League would actually succeed, only to have the carpet pulled out from under them. None of that is unanticipated, and there isn’t really any other way things could’ve gone. It’s just a case of the mechanics of the narrative being more transparent than usual.
Other than that, this was a very exciting issue that sets up the finale nicely. By the end, most of the League is captured, Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl are alone facing an army of nightmares, and Batman and Superman have been consumed by the raw magma of the Multiverse. We know that good will ultimately triumph over evil, but it’s anyone’s guess how Scott Snyder’s gonna get everyone out of these dire straits, and that’s what we read these stories for. I’m excited to see what surprises he has in store for us.
Speaking of surprises, Metal #5 had a very nice one: the return of the Martian Manhunter to the DC universe. As a big fan of the character, it’s to my eternal shame that I didn’t even realize J’onn has been absent since the start of the Rebirth era. It’s nice to have him back, though, even if I didn’t notice he was gone, and I’m looking forward to finding out what he’s been up to since Rebirth in the post-Metal Justice League comics.
It was also nice to finally get a solid explanation for what’s going on with Plastic Man. Apparently, the accident that gave Plas his powers also turned him into some kind of cosmic tuning fork, giving him a sensitivity to the energies of the Dark Multiverse. He’s retreated to egg form to fight off all the evil impulses those energies are trying to force him to succumb to. With all this cosmic superconductor talk—along with mentions of the Court of Owls—it seems like Snyder has made some significant alterations to Plastic Man’s origins. It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out in the pages of The Terrifics.
On the art front, Greg Capullo is just having too much fun. His work on Metal—along with Jonathan Glapion and FCO Plascencia—has been exemplary throughout, and this issue is no exception. It was particularly great to see more Dark Multiverse versions of various characters. We get our best look at a couple of alt-Wonder Women, but my interest was particularly piqued by what appears to be a Two-Face with two heads in one of Capullo’s wide shots. There had to have been a lot of fun conversations between Capullo and Snyder coming up with all these Dark alternates, and it’s a shame we’ll probably never get to see more of most of them beyond these brief glimpses.
With all of the exposition finally out of the way, Snyder is taking the opportunity provided by this story’s scope to set up a truly epic finale. Metal #5 puts all the pieces in place for that finale, and I eagerly await the final two issues of the series to see how it all plays out.