Hey, metalheads! It's me, Whitney Moore, and things are really heating up (like the fiery depths of Hades) over in DARK NIGHTS: METAL! Barbatos is back and in issue #4, none other than Carter Hall was revealed to be his newest pet, and Hawkgirl underwent some major changes as she stepped out as the new Lady Blackhawk! As our heroes are still split into duos and searching the corners of the universe for that mysterious Nth Metal, the final hour seems to be drawing closer.
Before we jump in to issue #5, I just want to take a moment to appreciate one of the most badass covers in the series so far. Only, it’s one you’ll have to hunt down a bit because it’s not one of the standard covers. I’m talking about the Bulletproof Comics retailer variant! We've got the Batman Who Laughs in all his bondaged glory, and his clutches is a cute bat who looks legitimately terrified because our boy looks like he's about to chomp his head off, Ozzie style. Anyhow, if you want this one for yourself, you’ll have to order it through Bulletproof.
This issue also has one of my favorite opening scenes, with the Batman Who Laughs addressing Barbatos as if they're about to open a show together. "It is, my lord. Time....TO WAIL! Let's blow the damn walls off ONCE AND FOR ALL!" Cue intensely shredding guitars and death metal shrieks. Oh, and also? In the first page you get to see not one, but TWO Joker dragons. What do I mean by Joker dragons? Literally exactly what you think. Let that sink in.
The last time we saw Aquaman and Deathstroke, the hunt for the ever-elusive Nth Metal had led them to a portal deep in the ocean. In this issue, we get to revisit them after they come out the other end into the actual center of the earth's core! And, lucky for them, there's a half-Atlantean machine in there protecting a whole mess of Nth Metal! Not that that means they have an easy shot at it. Meanwhile, Mr. Terrific and Green Lantern are trying to bust their way out of the prison that Starro has put them in along with giving Hal a case of the dumbs. Wonder Woman is busy dealing with Black Adam and Lady Blackhawk, and she has a total badass moment followed immediately by an "Oh shit!" moment. It's great, guys. In fact, this issue is jam packed with "Oh shit!" moments!
One of the things I love the most about this series is how many unexpected cameos we get, and this especially applies to issue #5. Without revealing too much, let's just say we get a lot of surprise appearances…and not all of them are on the side of the Justice League. Barbatos' grasp has permeated through characters throughout the DC Universe, which makes it all the more difficult for our heroes to succeed. Is it true that all roads lead to darkness? Ask any Norwegian black metal band and they'll tell you it's true. And it certainly doesn't bode well for Wonder Woman, who helps end this issue with an incredible cliffhanger…and in true Wonder Woman spirit, she does it in a total girl power moment.
As a metal fan, I'm a person who appreciates grim storytelling. If you're like me and you enjoy indulging in your inner darkness, then you'll have as much fun as I did reading Dark Nights: Metal #5. A huge theme we've been seeing with this series is how essential hope is to our survival, and even as desperate and terrible as things seem to be with the occurrences in this chapter, there still is a glimmer of it. I'm hanging on tight to that glimmer and rooting for our heroes…even though one part of me would love to see what Snyder would do with the world once Barbatos has it in his clutches.
I loved this issue, and as you know by now a big part of my comic reading experience is the music I set it to. Allow me to suggest a band as equally fun as it is grim for your background music pleasure: Tribulation. They've just released their third album and all of their music is a perfect backdrop to the terrifying excitement of Metal #5. The odds are definitely stacked against our favorite heroes and I absolutely can't wait to see how they'll be able to conquer darkness in the last issue. If they can, that is!