Dark Nights: Death Metal #3 review

This series has been an entertaining ride, but not without its flaws. Perhaps its biggest shortcoming is that it seems to be having an identity crisis in the sense that it doesn’t know if it wants to be horror, comedy or even satire. That problem persists in #3, but does that prevent the issue from being successful? Let’s have a look.

I think that the best example of the aforementioned problem, within the pages of this particular issue, is the character Robin King. The character has the potential to be scary, especially when he gets excited about all the horrible things that he’s doing, as if he’s describing a hobby that he’s really into. The idea that he could slaughter someone and then stuff their corpse inside a Flash ring is very disturbing. However, the way that this is presented doesn’t allow for that idea to truly reach its horrific potential.

First of all, Robin King merely tells about these things. The story doesn’t show it. Of course, horror is usually effective when things are left to the imagination, but in this case the character’s giddiness and demeanor is so over-the-top that it comes off as satirical, and even though it’s twisted, it seems more comical than scary to me. As such, the character reads like a parody rather than a horrifying villain. We need to see this character do evil and terrifying things in order for the idea of a child psychopath to really work, otherwise the real horror remains hidden behind exposition, which is the case right now. Yes, we saw the character at work in the Dark Knights special, but that doesn’t count as not every reader of Death Metal will be able to pick up that special (and, to be honest, I didn’t think Robin King was that scary in the Dark Knights special, either). Additionally, the overall lighthearted, action-adventure tone also gets in the way of the horror elements, and makes it harder to see a character like Robin King for what he is meant to be.

Moving on, this issue is more focused than the previous two. Wonder Woman, Batman, Swamp Thing and Harley Quinn have a clear mission: rescuing Superman. There are still some references to past stories, but the emphasis is on pushing Death Metal’s plot forward. Moreover, a subplot involving Lobo is really starting to develop here, which makes the overall story even more intriguing than it was at the start of the series. Yet, this issue also has its fair share of confusing moments. For example, at the start of the issue, we find our heroes in a different place than where we saw them last time without much explanation. The villainous Darkfather—who is a combination of Batman and Darkseid—appears, and he wants to corrupt Superman, but I’m not exactly sure why Darkfather wants to do this. Then there is the moment where Superman frees other superheroes from some kind of prison, and almost everyone is there! From Martian Manhunter to Supergirl, and from several Green Lanterns to Raven. The heroes that we see there, especially when they are together, pack some serious firepower. How are they not able to break out themselves? How are they not able to fight off this Darkfather dude? It just doesn’t seem very believable to me when they literally form a small army of powerhouse warriors together.

This seems especially jarring when you consider how easy it is for Wonder Woman and the others to free Superman. Darkfather’s corruption of Superman is easily prevented by Batman’s Black Lantern ring, and when Darkfather tries to shoot Batman with a special gun that is designed to erase Batman from existence, the gun doesn’t work. Wonder Woman asks Batman how he was able to survive that, and all he tells her is that he used a so-called “Bat-blocker.” This is all just way too convenient. If it’s really this easy to defeat a guy like Darkfather—who, I repeat, is a combination of Batman and Darkseid!—then I just don’t get why everyone else is having such a hard time here. While I still enjoy reading this book, these are some of the missed opportunities that prevent this issue from being great. It’s still very entertaining, but had some of these things been planned and executed a little bit better, this comic would’ve truly shined.

The art is once again terrific, though! Capullo and Glapion are of course as amazing as ever, but I want to highlight FCO’s work here. I’ve always found the many colors in his extensive palette to be beautiful, and it’s no different in this book. The many layers and schemes make it so easy to tell characters apart from the backgrounds, and a real sense of depth is created in the process. Of course Capullo and Glapion lay the incredibly solid foundation for the world of Death Metal, but it’s FCO who makes that world come to life. There are even some fantastic panels where his colors have psychedelic qualities, for example when Superman is trapped inside Darkfather’s torture device and screaming in agony. The colors on these pages almost seem to glow, and it’s magnificent.

Recommended if…

  • You want to add some gorgeous, top-tier color-work to your collection!
  • You are a fan of Superman, who really is super-cool in this issue.
  • Lobo has a special place in your heart.

Overall: This is a fun comic. It’s action-packed, and it’s more focused than the previous issue. But it’s also marked by a number of missed opportunities to keep this issue from reaching its full potential. However, the art is amazing, and FCO is the star of the show here. That said, it’s like the creative team is still trying to figure out if they want this to be more lighthearted or horror, and I’m hoping that they will have figured that out by the next issue. Nevertheless, I still recommend this comic book, as it’s entertaining for sure.

Score: 7/10

Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.