Now that you’ve made it through both DARK DAYS: THE FORGE and DARK DAYS: THE CASTING, it’s time to really start digging into the nitty-gritty before the event itself, DARK NIGHTS: METAL, explodes across the DC Universe this summer.
And there’s definitely a lot to sort through. With just two prelude books, Metal has already managed to set the stage for the next year of Rebirth in a major way. It might even feel a little bit intimidating if you’re trying to come at the event with all your super heroic homework done and ready to go.
But, don’t panic! Metal may only be a month away, but we’re here to help you sort through the details and direct your focus while you gear up to really, truly rock ‘n’ roll.
Let’s take a look at some of the characters that have stepped into the Rebirth spotlight thanks to The Forge and The Casting, and speculate a little as to what they might have on the horizon.
One of Metal’s earliest and surprising returns has yet to actually show his face, but rest assured he’s back. It’s just that he’s...well, in, uh, egg form (silly putty, anyone?) and locked up in Batman’s basement.
It’s okay, though. Patrick O’Brien, aka Plastic Man, is no stranger to bizarre situations—and if there’s one thing he’s particularly skilled in, it’s bouncing back.
It’s been quite some time since Plastic Man’s been a featured player in the DCU, so the specifics of just how and why he ended up locked up in the Batcave remains a mystery, but we do know that his power set—the hyper elastic molecules that compose his body—has something to do with the mysterious Nth Metal in Batman’s research.
Of course, Plastic Man’s mysteries may not stop there. After all, eggs usually have something else hidden inside of them.
The mystery of the Nth Metal is far reaching, not just in the sense that it’s literally old, but that it may or may not be tapping into forces outside of reality itself, like the mystical realms of good and evil themselves—and when that sort of power gets put on the table, the Wizard Shazam can’t be too far behind.
We learned this week that the Wizard had some part in forging a dagger that harkens back to the earliest days of the mystery of the metal—a dagger that Bruce receives from none other than Talia al Ghul as he continues his quest. The dagger is sheathed within a black scabbard, emblazoned with a golden lightning bolt. Now, fans of Shazam and the Marvel Family may recognize this color combination as Black Adam, one of the most famous villains of that particular branch of the DCU. So, what does that mean for the hero? Where does Billy Batson fit into the mystery of the metal?
If you’re a Justice Society fan, you’re probably no stranger to Michael Holt, aka Mr. Terrific, a super genius with the power to make himself invisible to technology. If you’re not a Justice Society fan, you may not recognize him (though Arrow fans certainly know Curtis Holt, the show’s version of Mr. Terrific). Michael hasn’t been around all that frequently in the last several years, deciding to keep his focus mostly on his homeworld of Earth-2.
However, as we learned in The Forge, it looks like Michael has decided to make the hop across the Multiverse for good this time—and not a moment too soon. Bruce may be the World’s Greatest Detective, but it never hurts to have one of the most brilliant scientific and technological minds in the world in your corner when you’re trying to crack a mystery older than time itself.
It’s probably a good idea to keep an eye on Mr. Terrific as Metal moves forward.
To say Hawkman’s history is “complicated” would be putting it lightly. He’s got some of the strangest, most varied, most layered continuities in the whole DCU, so if you’re meeting him for the first time in The Forge and The Casting, he might feel a little...well, intimidating.
I mean, it certainly doesn’t help that he’s pretty commonly seen swinging around a giant, terrifying mace. But don’t panic! Carter Hall really isn’t so bad once you get to know him.
And fortunately, there’s an easy way to get caught up in the world of Hawkman: THE DEATH OF HAWKMAN. This six-issue miniseries will get you up to date on the Hawk-related goings on in the DCU lately, which, judging by Carter’s near-timeless relationship with the Nth Metal, is probably a good idea.
Duke has been a supporting character in Gotham City for quite some time. Once a founding member of the WE ARE ROBIN crew, he got the opportunity to become Bruce’s sidekick on a full-time basis back at the start of Rebirth...but things predictably haven’t been smooth sailing for him since.
There’s still the troubling matter of his parents, both of whom were poisoned by Joker venom back during his massive attack on the city in BATMAN: ENDGAME. There has yet to be a cure made for the damage, so Mr. and Mrs. Thomas are currently wards in a psychiatric facility, leaving Duke all on his own. But maybe even more troubling is that we learned this week Duke’s mentorship under the Bat may not have been as coincidental as it seemed. In fact, there’s a very good chance Bruce has been keeping an eye on Duke for a long, long time.
And now, thanks to the Joker of all people, we’ve got our first taste of just what that might mean for Duke’s future.
What—or who—exactly, is “the Signal?”
We’d be totally remiss to skip over one of the greatest villains of all time here, especially now that he’s been given such a bright spotlight.
The Casting brings to light some major components of the Joker’s recent past—“dying” in the destruction of Gotham, waking up beside the strange chemical pit beneath the city… These events are all things you can read about in Batman: Endgame, but the Joker offers a new perspective on the whole sequence of events, even going as far to insinuate that he’s actually been trapped in the Batcave this whole time.
Of course, the Joker is anything but a reliable narrator, especially when it comes to stories about himself, so the legitimacy of his claims is still very much up in the air. But this time, it really feels like all bets are off. It really feels like the Joker might actually be telling the truth.
And did anyone notice how eerily familiar some of the monstrous, ancient cave paintings uncovered by Hawkman and Hawkgirl looked?
Of course, this list is only scraping the surface of characters to watch out for during and after Metal. There are whole teams like the Outsiders, and the Challengers of the Unknown who have made appearances in The Forge or The Casting, and organizations like the Blackhawks and Cadmus who are definitely up to something. Not to mention an entire list of characters potentially connected back to the Nth Metal itself (Dr. Fate?! Wonder Woman?!)
Tell us some of your favorite cameos, Easter eggs and conspiracy theories about the heroes and villains who are going to play a part this summer in the comments below!