DARK NIGHTS – METAL #6 [Review]: Shattering the Fourth Wall.
Like a supermassive kryptonite meteorite crashing down through the atmosphere at ten times the speed of sound, like twin blistering Randy Rhoads and Kirk Hammett guitar solos polyharmonized on top of the crunchiest Tony Iommi and Dimebag Darrell riffage, DARK KNIGHTS: METAL comes roaring to its explosive finale. All roads have led to this conclusion that actually manages to continually escalate the levels of madness that have been seething through this event since it started in medias res with the Justice League as handicapped gladiators on Mongol’s Warworld.
That opening scene actually turns out to set up a really charming throughline that runs all the way up to the climax, derived from Toyman naming his battlebots “fulcum abominus,” which I’ve seen translated as “lock together in defiance” though Diana here prefers “come together as one”; but, between you and me, it just means “form Voltron.” All of which sounds kind of insane even if you have full context, a testament to the sheer number of bonkers concepts pinballing back and forth throughout this entire deal. I mean, the worst thing I can say about this finale is that Baby Darkseid turns out to not really have anything to do with anything, and the same can be said for what should have been a seismic appearance for Dream.
Okay, one 4th of July when I was let’s say 12, my family drove out west of town and parked a mile away from Texas Water Rampage, this water park where our local rockin’ radio station FMX was sponsoring a fireworks display kicking off at 9. At 9:01, the fireworks started, and right away, they were completely out of control. Explosions upon explosions that had babies and grandbabies that were only bigger explosions. War waged with Kirby ammunition. An unrelenting onslaught. After maybe a minute, we all just started involuntarily hollering up at the sky like animals. How could they sustain this? Was it ever going to end? Yes. After about ninety seconds, it did. 9:03, all was said and done. There was a maybe a minute of dead air and empty smoke-scarred sky and stunned silence on our part, and then the DJ came on to say that there had been an accident, no one was hurt, but the guy who was in the shed or shack or nest, wherever they were launching the fireworks from, he had gone in there and accidentally dropped the match first thing, then realized and gotten the hell out, and, as the DJ put it, “what happened next was . . . heh . . the best damn fireworks show any of us are ever likely to see for the rest of our lives!” They all went off almost at once, total chaos without choreography or rhyme or reason. Twenty minutes’ worth of show compressed into ninety seconds.
METAL #6 was exactly like that.
Except, the creative team manages to sustain the detonations for 32 pages that are still over too soon. And that’s not even counting the 12-page epilogue (and I’ve got to take a second here to commend DC for releasing this thing ad-free; 44 pages of nothing but glorious sequential madness for only $4.99). The deal with this issue is it’s always got to add a +1 to whatever’s come before. Like how Nigel Tufnel’s amp goes to 11? This thing absolutely goes to 12 just because of that. Ninth Metal? Here comes Tenth Metal. Every crisis needs a Monitor or two? Meet the Over-Monitor, who’s been busy regenerating since the last multiversal crisis. And here comes Kirby’s Source Wall, the absolute ultimate boundary of the DC Universe that has stood inviolate and unbreached for the past five decades.
This is absolutely the most satisfying finale to a big event since Superman saved the multiverse with a song nine years ago in FINAL CRISIS. Scott Snyder does a fine job piling up the big moments early on, and the art team of Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion, and Cesar Plascencia execute each one with admirable precision and dynamic storytelling. Plastic Man finally wakes all the way up, a full colony of Batmen from the multiverse come raining down from Morrison’s Ultima Thule; Wonder Woman is once again an unrelenting beacon of courage who won’t quit in spite of overwhelming odds until she saves her defeated friends; Batman punches a Joker dragon in the face and rides it out of Hell just exactly like Bastian Bux astride Falcor; Damian Wayne drops in for just one panel to tell Dick Grayson “I told you so” and remind us why we love that particular dynamic duo so much until the end of time; and there are more surprises, spiraling upward in an ever-expanding cacophonous spiral that stretches out to the ends of the universe.
Beyond that shatters not only Kirby’s Fourth World wall but the actual fourth wall of storytelling; by the end, Hawkman is addressing the reader directly, inviting all of us into the story we’ve been helping bring to life all along. There’s a flash of light and we’re walking into Wayne Manor where we’re expected and Alfred has our suits and dresses perfectly sized and of course we saved the world, but there’s another threat looming on the horizon, past the horizon, and the best and worst is still forever yet to come. Bruce Wayne got too curious and fell into a mystery so dark and deep that it almost sank the entire universe, and yet his friends saved him by doing what they always do, serving as a spark of hope and inspiration to light the way and remind us all never to give into fear, no matter how dark the night may seem.