There’s a certain amount of silliness that’s inherent in various bits of popular culture. Comic books, for one, have a level of ridiculousness that we just accept so that we can proceed to enjoy the characters and stories. I mean, take a guy and dress him in a cape and tights and that’s goofy. Take that same guy, make him a billionaire and have him punch a murder clown in the face each night? That’s awesome.
Playing music requires a commitment to the ridiculous as well, if you can believe it. Just watch a guy like Freddie Mercury march across the stage with a half mic stand in his hand, playing off the crowd’s energy. Or David Bowie, dressing up in makeup and outlandish outfits to make his live shows a true experience. Or any number of metal musicians, head banging and jumping around to the beat of the music. In isolation, these acts should elicit chuckles and laughter, but do it while you’re playing a sick riff or killer guitar solo? That’s righteous.
An epic comic story like Dark Nights: Death Metal has that same craziness baked into its very core, what with its magic chainsaws and Batmans that are also dinosaurs and Cthulhus what have you. As crazy as the story has gotten, though, there’s not been a chapter or tie-in that has embraced that lunacy as well as Infinite Hour Exxxtreme! While we can all pretend that there could be any number of reasons why that’s the case, come on. Let’s be real.
It’s all because of Lobo.
The Main Man has played a bit role in the main Death Metal series, and while his presence is welcome, he hasn’t been able to unleash his boisterous bounty hunting bloviations with his limited screen time.
Until now, that is. And friends, this one-shot is as gleefully insane and joyously over the top as a hair metal throwback festival. No joke, it might be the best single issue DC has published since the finale of Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, and you know that is nothing but the highest of praise coming from me.
Consisting of three stories from some of the industry’s top talent, Infinite Hour Exxxtreme! is a rollicking, head-banging good time, so crank up the distortion, strike a power chord, and let’s stage dive in.
Up first is “The Batman Who Frags” and I’m just going to give you a moment to come down from how amazing that title is.
Ready? Okay, another moment then.
Alright, now we proceed with the thrashing.
This story comes to us from Frank “the perfect man to write Lobo” Tieri, Tyler Kirkham, Arif Prianto, and Dave Sharpe, and it kicks things off with an appropriate bang.
Lobo is drinking at a bar (as he is wont to do) after having murdered most of the patrons of said bar (as he is wont to do), beating some of them to death with their own limbs (as he is… you get the idea). He’s doing his thing, minding his own business, when suddenly he’s confronted by himself.
With bat ears.
And a giant Batarang on a chain.
“Frazetta Batman” is… mwah. Love it.
What follows is a non-stop Czarnian smackdown with Lobo and the Batman Who Frags duking it out to prove who’s the real Main Man of the Multiverse. It’s splendidly illustrated by Kirkham and Prianto, who bring a delightfully grimy verve to the action. Despite looking like it was illustrated on dirty napkins found at a dive bar (Lobo would want nothing less), the visuals are clean and clear with some wonderful sound effects from Dave Sharpe to punctuate the proceedings.
And yes, BatLobo truly refers to himself as the Batman Who Frags.
So it’s not just a clever title. Bonus points for throwing in “the Batmain Man” later on too, because really, Tieri should get himself an Eisner for this lunacy.
The story helps shed light on Lobo’s actual mission in the main Death Metal series as well, which hasn’t been remarkably clear up to this point. Sure, any Lobo is good Lobo, but it’s still nice to know his end game and the reason for his involvement.
Beyond the fragging, of course.
Turns out Luthor appeals to Lobo’s desire for self-preservation slash love for dolphins, which makes him think that, hey, the multiverse might be worth saving after all. They are the second most intelligent species on Earth, after all.
Right after mice, of course. If you know, you know.
Anyway, even amidst all the destruction and fragging, Tieri keeps things moving along at a great pace, and Luthor and Lobo’s conversation is loaded with some juicy dialogue and great quips. Really, the only drawback to the entire issue is that it’s rooted in a wider crossover, so even though it stands well enough on its own, it’s only one part of a larger picture.
Still, it’s a non-stop great time, as the first story leads right into…
Here’s how I imagine the pitch for this story went:
Becky Cloonan: “Sure, I’ll write you a Death Metal story starring Lobo. I’m going to use Hawkman and a Batman that is also Solomon Grundy, though.”
DC Comics: “Sold. Here’s a billion dollars for that billion dollar idea.”
Because she does indeed have Hawkman and a SoloBat Grundy, for which she deserves all the riches in the world. Like the first story, this is heavy on the action while still having a clear focus, as Lobo tries to find the elusive Death Metal he’s been tasked to locate. It gives the Main Man ample opportunity to comment on the weirdness of his mission without coming across as too meta or twee, which is a fine line indeed. Rather than winking at the audience to say “yeah, we know this is silly,” Lobo takes some playful jabs without directly breaking the fourth wall. It’s kind of nice, and a different take than we’d get from a character like, say, Deadpool or even Harley Quinn. Where they would directly address the audience and comment on how silly it is while still taking part in the action, Lobo just dismisses it with a crass word or two and goes on his way.
The dolphins deserve nothing less.
The foray to Blackhawk Island is illustrated by Rags Morales and Andrew Dalhouse, with letters by the great Rob Leigh. I particularly like some of the cool light effects Dalhouse uses, like Grundy Bats’ glowing eyes and just… so many explosions, guys. You wouldn’t think it, but Lobo and Hawkman (who has been guarding the Death Metal) make an interesting pair, to the point that I kind of want to see them team up again. With Carter’s series sadly coming to an end this week, maybe this can be a back door pilot to further adventures with the Main Man and the Winged Wonder?
If nothing else, seeing Lobo tell him to suck it is a true gift.
Surprisingly, these stories form a fairly continuous narrative, as Lobo opens the box of Death Metal to find…
…oh. Oh yes.
This is what I’m here for. With the power to rewrite creation in his hands, Lobo reimagines the origins of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, and just… just give this issue the Eisner for Best Humor Publication already.
Whether it’s Baby Lobo flipping the bird to the Kents, Wonder Lobo beheading Steve Trevor because he isn’t a dolphin, or young Bruce Wayne just saying fart, this final story is hysterical. And man, DC have gone for a hat trick of greatness with the creative teams in this issue, as this comes to us from Sam Humphries, Denys Cowan, Bill Sienkiewicz, Chris Sotomayor, and Dave Sharpe. There’s so much talent in this book that it could sell itself.
Thankfully, the storytelling is strong through and through, as the book ends on a high note of hilarity. It’s not just the three pages of origin parodies that are funny either, but the entire final chapter here is non-stop gags and funny lines. We see Lobo go up against Brainiac, the latter of whom winds up in a nice floral dress, with Lobo realizing that the power to alter reality means he can do whatever he wants.
And what he wants is guns of ever-increasing size, for he is a Czarnian of simple taste.
Eventually, the Batman Who Frags shows up for a rematch, bringing the issue full circle, and Lobo calls his Bat-doppelgänger a dweeb, so I’m satisfied. Four stars.
- You have cultured, refined tastes and only enjoy the highest quality of comics.
- You’re not a dweeb.
- You enjoy the fine art of fragging.
Overall: Dark Nights: Death Metal – Infinite Hour Exxxtreme! is as ridiculous as its title would have you believe, as is befitting a comic starring Lobo. The writing is sharp, tight, and funny, the art is consistently excellent, and the story manages to stand on its own pretty well, while simultaneously supporting the greater Death Metal narrative. This is the comic book equivalent of a massive harmonic whammy dive: bombastic, loud, and 100% rock and roll. Pick it up, fellow dweebs.
FRAGS SCORE: 9.5/10