Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s face-melting, nightmare-raising, multiverse-shattering DARK NIGHTS: METAL is now available everywhere in a hardcover deluxe collected edition. We’ve been talking a lot about the story, and for good reason. It united heroes (and villains) across the DC Universe, introduced some frightening new baddies, launched an entirely new line of books and changed the face of the multiverse permanently. But if you haven’t yet read it, don’t worry. We’re not going to talk about the story here.
Instead, we’re talking art.
It’s not like we’ve been ignoring Capullo’s work on the book, but there is so much going on behind and around the main action, that it really deserves a second, third or fourth look. Hell, you could blow each page up so its poster-sized and cover your walls with them, and you still would probably miss a bunch of things. Though I may be wrong about that, so feel free to try it and let me know. (I recommend putting up all of the Batman Who Laughs pages in your guest room because do you really want people crashing with you for more than one night?)
The point is that the story isn’t the only thing that’s worth unpacking when it comes to Dark Nights: Metal—you really need to give the art a good look too, and that’s not always easy to do when you’re caught up in the dialogue and intense action. So, to get this party started and show you some of what you’ve been missing, let’s take a look at eight particularly interesting—and utterly insane—panels from the newly released event.
Let’s Talk This Through
In issue #2, Batman sends the rest of the Justice League on quite a chase as they try to capture a Dark Knight who really doesn’t want to be found. Batman uses decoys, sets traps and recruits other members of the bat-family to keep his allies from catching him, until Superman and Wonder Woman finally manage to confront him. When Wonder Woman accuses Batman of stalling, Superman punches him through the chest, Injustice-style…which is plenty shocking, as is discovering that it’s actually Clayface disguised as Batman.
Capullo draws a great Clayface, no doubt. But think about the above scene for a moment and realize that Wonder Woman and Superman are having a conversation through the hole Superman created when he punched him.
Oof, that’s gotta hurt. Both the punch and the pretending like you’re not even there.
You’re Never Too Young to Headbang
Everyone who’s read Metal remembers baby Darkseid. The infant new god was the secret weapon Batman had stored away to confront the impending evil of Barbatos. While Wonder Woman warns Bruce that even baby Darkseid is dangerous, I can’t say the little guy looks it. Well, maybe except for the tiny little detail that Capullo’s thrown in to remind us of what a little hellion Darkseid’s destined to be: He’s making devil horns.
That’s the definition of being “a little metal.”
What the Heck Did We Just Walk Into?
In issue #5, Batman and Superman have journeyed to the Forge of Worlds looking for the last remaining hope in the multiverse. Instead, they found a completely darkened Forge and a titanic bird/monster/warrior/giant/dragon…er…thing guarding it that once used to be Carter Hall. Who then proceeds to attack them with a ginormous hammer.
That is NOT the kind of headbanging that anyone’s into, but Clark and Bruce have been greatly weakened, which makes fighting back a problem. But what I want to know is—who are those little xenomorph-looking dudes in the final panel above? They show up all gopher-like in on this page, and then are shown fleeing in the background on the next page. I’ll bet you didn’t even notice them.
I’m not sure what they’re doing living on a small, floating rock hovering above an ocean full of lava, but they do look kinda evil, and seeing how the entire multiverse was turning evil, I could see why they’d want to get in on that action. They probably figured they’d crawl up and join the party, but didn’t expect to find what looks like the world’s most terrifying owl playing superhero whack-a-mole on their front doorstep. Which begs the question…what the heck were they expecting from an all-evil universe?
We’re Going to Need a Bigger Multiverse
From top to bottom, this panel is about as metal as you get. You got Barbatos perched there like something on an ‘80s Ozzy album making, oh yes, devil horns with his wing hands. (Did you even notice that he had wing hands? I’ll bet a lot of you didn’t. Do you think Barbatos has a dominant wing-hand? Like, is he right-wing-handed or left-wing-handed? Which one do you think he uses to crush the souls of mortals?) There’s also the planets covered with blood in the background, the lightning and, of course, the joker dragons.
Now, we’ve talked about the joker dragons a lot here on DCComics.com. A lot. And for good reason, they’re absolutely amazing! Like, where did they even come from? I’m guessing they’re another nightmare of Batman’s, but why would Batman ever fear that the Joker was going to become a wingless, flame-spitting dragon? I realize this is comics and comics can get pretty out-there at times, but is that REALLY something you need to be losing sleep over if you’re the Dark Knight?
But that’s not important because the joker dragons are cool. Of course, everyone remembers Batman punching one and flying on it in the final issue, but they’re doing something great in pretty much every panel they’re in. In the panel above, you’ve got one dragon hovering up above everything, just freaking everyone out. But it’s the other one that I want to point out. He’s circling beneath Barbatos, partially submerged in clouds, like he’s a sea monster or shark. I DON’T KNOW WHY HE’S DOING IT! Seriously, there’s no reason other than it looks really damn cool!
When One Weapon Doesn’t Cut It…
There is so much going on in this issue #6 panel (click on the image above to see it full size) that you could spend a good ten or twenty minutes just unpacking everything. For context, the earth here has slipped into the Dark Multiverse, superhero nightmares are running rampant and Wonder Woman and Lady Blackhawk are taking on an army of them.
Of course, you noticed Wonder Woman (and likely the Wonder Cheetah in the foreground), and who could miss giant Darkseid doing a Darth Vader “NOOOO!!!” or something in the background? There’s also the Riddler’s question mark mohawk and Lady Blackhawk totally eviscerating an evil Superman. But with all of that detail, you may have missed the fact that Diana has tied Kendra’s mace to the end of the Lasso of Truth and is wielding it like she’s a Star-Spangled berserker. Let’s hope her enemies to don’t notice that until it’s too late either.
Pick Your Plastic
You probably remember the amazing Plastic Man reveal. After spending the first five issues as an egg (that, appropriately, looks a lot like the ones that they sell Silly Putty in), Plas joins the battle in the above splash where he finally makes his presence known in the most dramatic way possible. But let’s take a moment and look at what he’s formed here. In his left hand, he’s made what looks like a woodchipper, a hammer and an electric saw—all well and good. But it’s his right hand that’s a thing of beauty. He’s formed two sharks (including one who looks like he’s about to take a chomp out of the Drowned), and three dinosaurs. Because when it comes to dinosaurs, it’s good to have a backup, and if you’re already going to bring two dinosaurs somewhere…hey, why not have a third? And as if that’s not enough, Plastic Man has also taken care of the problem with T-Rex’s tiny little forearms…by giving him a baseball bat.
I mean, I doubt he could stare down a fastball, but I’m sure even those little arms can smash a few evil superhero heads.
Green Lantern Tears Things Up
Okay, I’m cheating here a bit because I’m actually going to show you two panels, but I feel like they’re both better when looked at together than on their own, so we’re just going to count them as one.
The tide in the battle is finally turning in the above panel. Batman has just given Aquaman and Green Lantern the 10th Metal, and they’ve risen up in their shiny armor, hopefully to a really sweet guitar lick in the eventual animated movie. (And NO, that’s not a movie confirmation. Just wishful thinking on my part.) There’s much to love in Capullo’s work above, from the hardcore armor design, to Aquaman looking like a Norse war chief, to Batman tearing across the sky on one of my beloved joker dragons. But check out Green Lantern for a moment.
That’s the Murder Machine he’s fighting there. Now, in the previous panel, Hal was literally sprawled on the ground with a frightening nano-mask around his face and a drill inching toward his neck. Then one 10th Metal batarang later and he’s tearing the Murder Machine apart. Literally. With a pair of giant pliers.
Now, I know the Murder Machine is bad, bad news, and it’s arguable that he’s even alive, but still. Tearing a dude apart seems a bit much, right? And it gets even crazier when you realize that the next time we see Green Lantern is ten pages later (after the crazy Batman/Joker/Batman Who Laughs fight) where he’s doing this…
HE’S RUNNING THE MURDER MACHINE OVER WITH A SEMI TRUCK!!! The same Murder Machine he’d previously torn in half. I mean, I get that you want to make sure he’s not getting back up, but there are plenty more bad guys where that guy came from, Hal. You may want to save your willpower.
And we though Kilowog had a temper.
The Ultimate Rock Star
For our last panel, we’re looking at a much happier scene, and one that isn’t drawn by Greg Capullo. This above moment comes from the story’s epilogue, and is drawn by Mikel Janin. After their success defeating Barbatos and the Dark Multiverse, the entire gang throws a big party at Wayne Manor. It’s a chance to see everyone dressed up and out of costume (for the most part) and there’s much to love about the image. There’s Babs and Dick coyly flirting in the foreground, Garth totally rocking out in front of the stage, Damien and Jon shredding on guitar, Swamp Thing in a bowtie…
But the thing I’d like to call your attention to is the man at the drums: Alfred.
Did you know Alfred could play drums?!? The guy can cook, stitch people up, fight, run point from the Batcave, act, recite Shakespeare, offer wise advice…and apparently play some mean skins. (With his tie around his head, no less.)
Seriously, is there anything this guy can’t do?