October 7, 2022

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Noteworthy Issues: Dark Nights: Death Metal The Last Stories Of The DC Universe #1 (December, 2020)

Some of the DC Universe's greatest heroes spend what could be their last night on Earth.

Wait, another anthology in the Death Metal storyarc?  I am starting to think this one was less main story and more anthology.

Oh well, maybe this one will work out better.

Issue:  Dark Nights: Death Metal The Last Stories of the DC Universe #1, December 2020

Writers:  Mark Waid, Scott Snyder, Jeff Lemire, Gail Simone, James Tynion IV, Joshua Williamson, Christopher Sebela, Cecil Castellucci, and Mariko Tamaki.

Artists:  Francis Manapul, Rafael Albuquerque, Daniel Sampere, Mirka Andolfo, Travis G. Moore, Meghan Hetrick, and Christopher Mooneyham.

The Plot:  Various heroes collect their thoughts and spend what could be their final moments before another Crisis-level battle happens.

Commentary:  Well…this was something.  It’s somber, as most of the heroes are thinking they are going to die but have one last battle to go off and face, and most of these stories seem to end with the heroes going to find missing loved ones and family members to spend those last minutes with.  The framing device is the Teen Titans, like all of them, meeting on a beach on Themyscira for one last night, a moment that ends when Wally West shows up, presumably because they all hate him now or Donna does or something.  I suspect I missed something, but nah.  That’s not anything to really worry about.

From there, the various stories follow Wonder Woman, the Bat Family, Superman, Aquaman, Hal Jordan, and Green Arrow and Black Canary.  The stories range in quality.  Aquaman’s story is rather maudlin as he expects no one wants him around anymore except Mera and some son of theirs I have never seen before.

I suspect I missed something else.

Regardless, Aquaman mopes.

As for the rest, Diana preps for battle, Nightwing and Batgirl decide to get married for just the night with Batman as the officiant, and Hal Jordan wants to go flying one last time.  These are the more forgettable stories.

But then there are the two exceptions.  The first is the Green Arrow and Black Canary story written by Gail Simone, who even takes the time to make a continuity joke about how her original Birds of Prey run might no longer be canon.  The two hang around the beach, reminisce about how they never had a real date, and meet a daughter of theirs from an alternate timeline that has both of their skillsets.  It’s a very Gail Simone sort of story, and I pretty much always enjoy those.

But then there’s Mark Waid’s Superman story.  How would Superman spend his last day?  Well, he’d put together a device that allowed him to relive that day over and over again so he could do as much good for as many people as possible until his device wore out, after which he’d go see Lois and Jon.  Up until this point, I wasn’t sure there were any normal bystanders types left on Earth in Death Metal, especially considering they might have destroyed the Earth in the previous issue to get the Batman-Who-Laughs’s attention.  Instead, there’s all kinds of people, and Superman does all the sorts of things he used to do saving lives, planting fields, establishing solar farms, and the like.  It’s a somewhat hopeful story, one where Superman, rather than wallowing in some form of mourning or fear, actually opts to make something of his last moments…even if his last moments last far longer than they probably should.

The whole thing then goes back to the Titans and wraps everything up so they can charge off to face the Batman-Who-Laughs to decide the fate of everything.

Really, aside from Simone and Waid’s respective tales, it’s a rather forgettable volume.  But for those two, it actually seemed to be almost worth it.

Grade:  C+

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