Rock’n Roll, seedy dim lit bars, jukeboxes, and more characters throwing up the sign of the horns than you can shake a stick at.
With the first two issues of Metal, we were introduced to the mystery of the Dark Multiverse, and the rock/metal connotations seemed like little more than a clever marketing scheme that was being implemented to publicize the book. But with this issue, things get a little too heavy handed for my taste. There’s so much overt Rock stuff going on in this issue, I was kind of sick of it by the end.
The story starts off with Damian and Jon throwing a private little rock concert for Clark, Bruce, Diana, and Lois. First off, seeing Damian and Jon in their leather-studded/grunge outfits was kind of off-putting. It felt like I’d stumbled into some bizarre mashup that was intended to catering to a very specific fan base. First DC brought us characters inspired by 40s pin-up girls. Then we get Gotham City Garages, where it’s all biker inspired DC characters. What is this then? The start of all DC characters re-imagined as famous Rock icons throughout time? Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there is an audience for that, but it’s not me.
Then this happens:
You’d be forgiven for not knowing who that is, because it seems completely out of character for her to be doing that. F.Y.I.: it’s Lois Lane. I know, right?!? So, here’s the first spoiler for you guys. This 3 page opener is a dream. So while it gets a pass for depicting characters in such a peculiar way (since it doesn’t really happen), I still had to read this. And for the briefest span of time, before I realized it wasn’t truly a gross defamation of character, I found it quite distasteful. And that’s not really a way you want to start a book off, with a bad taste in your mouth.
In any case, Superman is promptly woken from this dream by Wonder Woman and it’s revealed that he has had dozens upon dozens of dreams in which he has battled Barbatos. Many of them seeming to span entire lifetimes. To me, this is probably one of the most interesting things broached in the story, and it barely gets two panels. On top of that, it’s got to be downright exhausting. I have this one reoccurring dream where I haven’t finished my homework, and then I wake up in a panic before I remember I’m 40 and not even in school anymore. But for those few seconds when I’m still half asleep, it’s quite distressing. And that dream comes nowhere near to what Superman experienced. From the way he describes it, for all he knows, he has woken into another dream where he is going to fail again. That sounds like it would be super demoralizing and soul crushing.
Once Superman gets an update on what has been going on, he speeds off to take on Barbatos and the Dark Knights. While everything Superman has to contend with (both physically and mentally) is unquestionably ghastly, it doesn’t feel as horrific as what I had in my mind during the build up in chapter 1+2. And that’s kind of a trope of horror in general. That we can often come up with far more disturbing things in our own minds than could ever be presented on the page or in film. And that’s what happened to me over the course of this issue. Metal 1+2 had done such a good job at making me expect the worst, that when we actually get to see the baddies in action, they just don’t measure up to the hype I had built up going into this chapter.
Part of that disappointment also stems from the fact that I’m not worried for anyone right now. We all know that everyone is going to be fine, the good guys will win, and everyone that got turned into a monster will be reverted back to their human form at the end of the day. It’s not whether the heroes will win, but how. Sometimes it’s at what cost, be that loss of life or perhaps having to make compromises that hurt them as a person, chipping away at the very fabric of who they are. But more often than not, it’s just about how they win. But if this really isn’t all that different from the formula that most other comics adhere to, then what’s my problem?
I’m not all that interested in the direction the story is going. It looks like it’s just going to be several groups of people meeting challenges in order to get some stuff that will help them beat the bad guys. That’s not new. The specifics of it will definitely be something we haven’t seen before, but I’m just not that big a fan of the MacGuffin. I don’t want our heroes to have to win the day by acquiring some magic items. I want them to win the day through their own ingenuity and abilities.
Anyway, back to the story.
Superman is totally getting his butt kicked until The Flash shows up and whisks him off to a mystic bar where all the heroes are hiding out and licking their wounds. At this point, we get 7 whole pages of talking. Look. I accepted that there was a bunch of talking in the first 2 issues. They had to set up and uncover this huge mystery after all. But once that was done, I thought we’d be on to the fun action part of the story that Scott and Greg kept talking about in all their press junkets. At this point, I’m done with all the set up and exposition. Granted, they need to explain it because if they didn’t we’d have no clue what was going on. But I still think we should be past this kind of droning on at this point.
You ever seen one of those movies where a voice-over explains what a team is going to do while the visuals simultaneously show us those events. That could have been cool. Instead, we are given pages and pages of them talking about what they are going to do and why, but very little of getting to see them actually do stuff. It’s boring.
I think perhaps the editors also felt a lull here as well, because they try to spice things up with some humor. Personally, it didn’t work for me. If someone like Flash cracked a joke about Nightwing looking like Jon Snow, well, ok then. That’s within character. Although, given the situation and mood of the room, it would have been inappropriate at this time. The thing is, I’m not here to get commentary from the peanut gallery. The author is the one that’s supposed to make me laugh and enjoy myself. Personally, I find these editorial notes annoying. I’d liken it to going out to the movies and having a fellow movie goer shouting stuff out at the screen. “Your drunk, so shut up, I’m trying to watch the movie!” Oh, and before some smart aleck says that all I’m doing is offering commentary so I should shut up, try and remember that you came here for my commentary. If you don’t want to know what I think, you don’t have to come here, while the editor commentary is forced upon you.
It’s probably standing out to me so much more than in the first 2 issues (even though I didn’t like it then either) because I recently read the last 32 issues of action comics, and the editors over there did their jobs. It was all business. Story titles and issues #s (and it was actually quite helpful on more than one occasion). That’s what I need from the editor. Help in figuring out what all this random stuff is. At least with the Nightwing thing they mention the Gotham Resistance storyline, but would it have killed them to bring up Shadowpact instead of trying to incorporate a monkey’s uncle joke.
Much in the same way that Barbatos used Batman to enact his plans, he does the same thing to Superman, maneuvering him to where he wants him to be. And while Superman thinks he is doing good, he is actually helping bring about the end of the world. This raises all kinds of questions for me.
- Superman was unconscious for 7 days. Is there some reason they didn’t take his limp unconscious body to the Dark Multiverse and plug him into the battery over there when he was helpless? I understand that Barbatos’ whole thing is to lessen hope. He wants you to think you’re winning so you’re that much more down trodden when you fail, and giving Superman that glint of hope crushes him harder.
- I guess the question then would be, is it just a game to Barbatos or does he actually need characters to lose hope? Is that what fuels him?
- The whole thing Barbatos and the Dark Knights did to Batman in the last issue was to allow them to enter our world. So, why do they need to do what they are doing now? If the door is already open, why do they need to open more doors? Can’t they all just keep coming through the same door that’s already open?
- Why couldn’t Superman just use that same portal to get to their world?
- The plan for Barbatos and the Dark Knights to enter our world was very elaborate, taking lots of planning and centuries to execute. Yet Superman comes up with some half ass plan on the fly to get to the Dark Multiverse and it works. Part of me thinks that undermines all the complexity of Barbatos’ original plan. It also make me wonder why they never tried breaking through to our world before, since it seemed pretty easy for Superman to get over to their world.
With how much time was spent explaining certain elements of the story, you’d think a dialogue balloon or two could have been devoted to things like these.
Odds and Ends:
- Green Arrow, Nightwing, and Robin were all in the bar. Where did they go? Why didn’t they join any of the teams to go looking for the Nth metal?
- The Laughing Man mentions that in his realm, fears and hopes birth worlds. Shouldn’t that mean that somewhere in the Dark Multiverse there should be a bunch of good versions of the characters that stem from hopes? Yes, I know they mention killing the heroes from their world, which presumably came from hope. But where are all the good Batmen? Did they kill them too? And why weren’t there dozens and dozens of good and bad versions of all the other characters? I mean, if every time someone has a fear or a hope it births entire worlds, well, we should have billions of good and bad versions of everybody running around. I guess I do have an answer for that. This kind of reminds me of The Never Ending Story. In that story, the world of fantasia was dying off because people weren’t fantasizing anymore. So, maybe that is why the evil won the Dark Multiverse. Since there is so much more despair in our world than hope, it meant there wasn’t enough good in the Dark Multiverse to combat the endless waves of evil we kept dreaming up . So, they took over. In that sense, I guess the Dark Multiverse is a commentary of sorts on our own reality.
- I find that the way Dawnbreaker is leaning on the sword pommel to be quite amusing. I just has a “whatcha thinkin bout” vibe to it. And the fact that he could care less that it’s sticking out of Nightmaster’s head is even more amusing. Having said that, I think it’s kind of rude to off someone else’s character so nonchalantly. Granted, Nightmaster isn’t that well known of a character. So I guess there probably aren’t that many people to take offense by it. But still. Show a little respect.
- I always find it odd when characters talk about something in comics, and this thing they are talking about is something that is from our world and not their world. In this instance, I’m talking about the Batman ’66 theme song. I know that in the DC Universe there is merchandise connected to the heroes. I know that they have comics and TV shows and movies about them too. But have you ever stopped to really think about it. Maybe there was a Batman TV show with a Batman theme song in the DC Universe. But it couldn’t be the same Batman TV show we have, because in the show, you see that Bruce Wayne is Batman. So, either these shows/comics/movies from the DC Universe only fixate on the Superhero identity of the characters, or the people making up the entertainment in the DC Universe have come up with their own original identities and origins for these characters separate and completely different than their actual identities and origins. Food for thought.
- You wanna RAWK!
- The end of the world seems like the perfect occasion for a drink to you.
- You’ve been saving up your quarters for the Juebox and plan on playing nothing but B-Sixty-Six (Nananananananananananananananana BATMAN!)
This is a seriously ambitious undertaking that Snyder has decided to embark upon, and I honestly want to see it succeed, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to hold back when it starts to collapse under the weight of it all. Throughout the course of this story I found myself bored, unconcerned, vaguely offended, underwhelmed, uninterested, and left with far too many questions. And not the good kind that keep you coming back for more, but the bad kind that stem from far too much time spent by the author trying to be clever and not enough spent to make sure things track. Here’s keeping my fingers crossed that the next installment of Metal has more going for it.
SCORE: 5 / 10