I’m going to try making this quick, because I don’t want to linger on this for too long. For the past several issues of Justice League, I’ve been having a great time reviewing the title. From The Garden of Mercy to Doom Metal, the comic has recently pivoted away from high-octane action, focusing more on deft characterization to make the book feel a little more intimate. While Doom Metal obviously has the spectacle of its larger event to work with, it’s honestly done a pretty good job of keeping the characters grounded in realistic emotions and motivations. It’s this approach that has differentiated this tie-in from much of the rest of Dark Nights: Death Metal, and it’s why I was having a lot of fun with it.
That’s why it’s a shame that I can’t say the same about the conclusion. While I have positive feelings towards Doom Metal overall, the last issue of the Justice League tie-in falls into the same trap as its parent event: action and explosions over character moments that I believe. Fortunately, there’s some wonderful art that keeps it entertaining – and it’s not enough to sour my feelings on the comic as a whole.
Written by Joshua Williamson and illustrated by Xermanico, the issue opens with a confrontation between the ragtag Justice League and the newly liberated Legion of Doom. It’s a strange moment, because I’m a fan of every single villain here: Sinestro is an incredibly layered villain with a lot of interesting dimensions, and Grodd and Cheetah are incredibly entertaining when put in the right hands. It’s a shame, then, that none of them are well-utilized here. The first instinct they have – quite rightly, I’d think – is to kill Lex Luthor for betraying them in the pages of Scott Snyder’s Justice League. That conflict is interrupted by an incredibly abrupt reveal that Detective Chimp survived the events of the previous issue, as had the lumbering Omega Knight. What follows is a scene that highlights Dick’s leadership skills while they take the creature down, and I can’t say I hate seeing Grayson taking the reins and guiding all these different characters from the DCU. It’s always nice seeing Nightwing in a position like this, though I can’t help but wonder if there was a more natural way to do it – the Omega Knight could have died last issue, and given this issue the time it needed to focus on the conflict with the Legion of Doom.
As it stands, the Legion – and most of the characters in this issue, honestly – are kind of shafted, relegated to the sidelines so that everyone can have at least one line before the story is over. Characters like Cyborg, Hawkgirl, Starfire and most of the Legion barely get attention, the Legion in particular having to make several personality 180’s to fit the story. Several times throughout the comic, these villains are made to set aside their differences with Lex without a word, moments after talking about (and attempting to) kill him. Even major characters like Lex Luthor are hurt by this – there’s a speech that Manhunter gives him that seems to convince him to side with the heroes, yet we don’t really get any indication of how this heroic plan is any different than what he’d planned before the start of this tie-in. The issue boils down to action scenes that go nowhere, and speeches that don’t have the same weight when a crowd of characters are standing there trying to get a word in, none of them having the attention they deserve after years of their story arcs culminate here.
This is disappointing, but it’s not all bad – especially when you’re reading a book with Xermanico’s art in it. There’s nothing about this issue that really stands out to me, like the field of Starros in issues 2 and 3 – but considering Xermanico has to balance ten characters during several action scenes in this issue, it’s impressive that the ending manages to be fairly easy to follow. Each character exists within the panels of the book without taking away from any other, and all of the fights are well-choreographed so that you can keep track of all of the players. It’s not Xermanico’s best work, but that’s mainly because the subject matter isn’t as dynamic as it was in previous issues. If you can wrap up a story that I’m losing interest in with art that manages to keep my attention, then you’ve done all you can and then some. As a result, I’m not insulted by the ending to Doom Metal or anything – it’s just a bummer that it didn’t hold up to the same level of quality I felt its previous entries had.
- You’re looking to follow some of the side characters in Death Metal, and see what they’re up to.
- The Legion of Doom’s fate is something you’re invested in!
- You’re looking for any fix for new Nightwing stories – they’re in short supply right now, and Dick is handled pretty well in this comic.
So, this review didn’t end up being as quick as I wanted to be – and I think that’s because I really did enjoy this story. There’s something sad about having a mediocre ending to a book you’re really liking, because there’s the question of if you wasted your time reading previous issues. Fortunately, I don’t think that’s the case here. Despite a climax that feels a little rushed and unrefined, Doom Metal’s merits come from the journey towards that point: the character interactions on the journey, and the small way each character grows as a person as they fight in the face of Armageddon. I think that if you’re reading Death Metal, it’s essential that you read this tie-in to ground yourself in the world – even if the ending is a bit hasty to get back to business.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.
Author’s Twitter: @ObnoxiousFinch