So, after a moment in the first issue of Dark Nights: Death Metal where I was very happy to see a certain development, I also knew said development would not be nearly the step-back that it appeared to be. This was not really a surprise for me, but that doesn’t mean I really wanted to see it either.
Issue: Dark Nights: Death Metal #2, July 2020
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artists: Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion
The Plot: Wonder Woman’s first strike has bought her some time. Now she needs to gather allies.
Commentary: I don’t think I have seen a more satisfying moment in a Scott Snyder-penned comic then when Wonder Woman cut the Batman Who Laughs in half, seeming to kill the monster. I mean, I knew this Batman wasn’t done yet. Snyder loves the guy, and his infernal influence is too powerful to not use. He’s clearly, for the time being at least, Perpetua’s agent on Earth, running things from Castle Bat, in what looks like the darkest of all timelines.
Then again, this issue also opens with a Batman that uses Ray Palmer’s tech to sneak around as a tiny spy who gets run over by a monster truck Batmobile without so much as anyone noticing. What sort of series am I dealing with?
Oddly enough, it seems to be acting as, for lack of a better description, a love letter to all things DC. That seems highly unlikely. Even the title of the mini-series, Death Metal, suggests the darkest of the dark, the nastiest of the nasty. So much of what has gone down in DC is, well, goofy. Personally, I love the goofy, but it’s still goofy. So much about the initial design of this series looks like some sort of 90s era antihero work. Swamp Thing is a skeletal mess. Wonder Woman cut the Batman Who Laughs in half with a chainsaw powered by the Lasso of Hestia. Batman has a freakin’ monster truck. Everything about the Batman Who Laugh’s crew says “90s era antiheroes”.
And then the Justice Society shows up, looking like four old men keeping Batman safe when he isn’t out doing guerrilla-style hits. Jonah Hex, as a Black Lantern, is helping Batman. And Barry Allen hasn’t changed a bit when he shows up to help get the crew where they need to go, giving his former sidekick Wally a hug and generally ready to run even as the Speed Force is being depleted. Snyder has often used his books to drag his heroes down to the deepest depths before they can triumph, and somehow it sure does look like the gang is already there. Can they even go down any further? It’s hard to believe that could be even remotely possible.
Then again, as Batman predicted, the Batman Who Laughs isn’t dead. Not really. His sidekicks just transferred his brain into the body of a Batman who was also Dr. Manhattan in his universe, making the Batman Who Laughs into the Darkest Knight, a being of shadow who casually erases multiple Dark Multiverse Batmen simply because he can. He keeps one sidekick, the Robin King, someone who is apparently from a very dark place, but that much isn’t revealed just yet.
And then I saw what form of transportation Batman and Wonder Woman are taking to wherever their next stop is, and the goofy came back. This may not be so painful after all.
Granted, Harley Quinn and a giant hyena joined the group somewhere between panels, so there must some tie-in that this issue doesn’t even mention. Bah!