In 1902, British author W. W. Jacobs published a collection of short stories entitled The Lady of the Barge: twelve different tales that predominantly focused on the horror genre. In this collection lay a tale called The Monkey’s Paw: an iconic supernatural story about a family who gain the mummified hand of a monkey, which grants them wishes at a terrible price. The short inspired the use of the monkey’s paw as a popular expression, and it’s one I’ve used several times before in my reviews: granting someone’s wish, but at a cost that makes you wonder if the price was worth it.
I bring this up because I think this book might one of the first comics that I’ve read that reverses the rule of the monkey’s paw. Yes, I have to read a Death Metal tie-in, which I’m not particularly happy about: but, in a strange twist of fate, I think I’m liking it more than the main event!
Part Two of Doom Metal, written by Joshua Williamson and illustrated by Xermanico, takes what is a very simple objective – rescue the Legion of Doom from the Dark Goddess Perpetua – and chooses to expand on it by honing in on the characters sent to rescue them. Joining Nightwing, Hawkgirl, Detective Chimp and Lex Luthor, we also find Starfire and Cyborg entering the scene: just coming off the heels of Justice League Odyssey (not that you need to read it). I’m not sure if I love how the two are written at the moment, but I wouldn’t call myself a resident Starfire and/or Cyborg aficionado, so I can’t speak too much to their depictions. It does, however, add a few more interesting variables to the cast, and I appreciate seeing Starfire and Dick have a conversation after so long apart.
I do worry the story is getting a little overcrowded, though. We’re now dealing with six protagonists, along with a subplot involving Martian Manhunter: that’s a lot of characters to juggle, with a bunch of different dynamics you’re playing with. Then again, maybe I shouldn’t be so concerned: so far, I haven’t had any issues with it. What character interaction we’ve had so far seems mostly natural, from Luthor and Hawkgirl’s antagonism to Cyborg attempting to reach out to Detective Chimp. I also enjoy the first glimpse of the new Dark Knight, known as the Mindhunter. He seems like one of the more natural Dark Knights introduced into Death Metal, directly playing off one of the major members of the Justice League, just like the original Dark Knights did in the first Metal event. The conversation between him and Martian Manhunter is brief, but interesting: a calm, relaxed conversation in their shared mind palace, while the two duke it out on the field of battle.
The big draw, however, is the ending of the issue, where the members of this ragtag group begin to walk through an ominous field, littered on every end with dormant copies of the being known as Starro. Aliens invading the minds of superheroes isn’t exactly breaking new ground: but it’s a good trope for a reason, and allows us to see some references to the pasts of these characters across all of DC’s history. It’s one of those moments that reminds the audience that, much like Death Metal keeps telling us, everything is connected. I love the ominous, sinister appearance of Starro’s appendages snaking across the panels, some of which I don’t want to show here: which leads me into my biweekly reminder of how fantastic Xermanico’s art is.
I really do mean it, too. Xermanico is absolutely the star of the show here, and while the story is surprisingly good, it’s the artwork that sells me on this being an extremely readable tie-in to the main event. My only real complaint about his artwork here is I don’t like how he draws Cyborg’s face; but then that’s instantly overshadowed by the sight of Dick Grayson living out different generations in the same scene. Xermanico portrays the character’s degradation seamlessly, as the panel borders hint at Starro’s underlying influence – it’s a pleasure to look at this book, and I’m glad that a tie-in to an event that I do not care for is making every effort to win me over with its supplementary content.
- You’re looking for what is essentially a Dick Grayson story, using Death Metal’s wild, wacky concepts to frame his return to the world of DC.
- You’d like to see some of the Odyssey characters – namely Starfire and Cyborg – coming back into the main world, and interacting with people they haven’t seen in some time.
- Xermanico’s art is an instant yes for you (it should be!).
I gotta say, I dunno how I got stuck with some of the genuinely good Death Metal tie-ins. I have a lot of issues with the main story – a lot – but the concepts that all of these creators have been throwing around have potential, and it’s been nice to read a story that’s happy to follow-through with some of those concepts, without seeming like they’re rushing them beyond belief. Genuinely excited for the next issue!
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.
Author’s Twitter: @ObnoxiousFinch