Ah, the carefree days of 2011. Charlie Sheen was "winning," Bridesmaids made poop jokes fun again, and Harry Potter was ending with Deathly Hallows, Part 2. All in all, it was a solid year. DC, and later Marvel, would be shaking up the comics world with a total reboot of their line of comic books in an event called the New 52. What a concept!
Fast forward five years later and DC would have to once again reboot their comics after the New 52 came crashing down under the weight of poor reviews, lagging sales, and angry fans. Superman wasn't working, the Justice League was dull, and what were they thinking on Flash? But like a boy band, sometimes even bad ensembles have good individual pieces. Jeff Lemire would take the virtually-unknown Animal Man and make a competent, complex hero out of him, while also launching Lemire into the upper stratosphere of comic book virtuosos. Brian Azarello would remake Wonder Woman's origin in such a phenomenal way that it inspired the well-received take on the character's birth in the 2017 film. Lastly, Scott Snyder, alongside artist Greg Capullo, would give us some of the best Batman stories to come out in a long, long time.
Snyder began by introducing a new villainous cohort, the Court of Owls, who so quickly became emblematic of Gotham City itself that they were almost immediately featured in other bat books by other writers. That arc ended with (spoiler alert) Batman battling a man convinced he's Bruce Wayne's brother. Later, a FACELESS Joker would toy with Batman by only attacking his friends and allies. Snyder's Joker doesn't want to kill Batman. Instead, this version of the Joker feels that it is his duty to sharpen Batman, to improve Batman, and is sickly obsessed. Snyder then recast the Riddler as not a corny prankster, but a cold, calculating killer begging to be challenged. Batman has gone through many iterations. From a crime noir figure to a campy character to a dark, brooding, gothic dark knight, Snyder's take on Batman is modern and hopeful. He defends Gotham not because the city is his to protect, but because it is a part of him. Indeed, Gotham is more than him.
Though Scott Snyder has mostly relinquished the job of writing Batman (he still writes the less-frequently-published All-Star Batman for now), Snyder isn't done with Bruce Wayne - or the entire DC Universe - yet. A few months ago, he announced DC's biggest event comic series of the year: Metal. And its coming is nigh.
If you're a lapsed comic book reader or even if you've never really picked up a book before, Metal is a fantastic opportunity to jump on board. The characters are familiar to anyone who would visit this site - Batman, Green Lantern, Superman. All the big names are here, plus a few more (Hawkman, Duke) that you may not immediately recognize, but here are easy-to-identify role players. This story, as DC stories are wont to do, centers around multiple different dimensions. While we don't have a whole lot of information on these dimensions yet, recently-released covers give us a tantalizing clue:
The premise seems to be this: imagine a dimension where Batman has the powers of Wonder Woman. Or the ring of Green Lantern. Or the sadistic nature of the Joker. Then imagine those Batmen are villains coming to destroy our earth. Pat McCallum, Executive Editor at DC, said this:
"With names like The Red Death, The Murder Machine, The Dawnbreaker, The Drowned, The Merciless, The Devastator and The Batman Who Laughs, itís pretty clear that these creatures mean business and prove just how dangerous the Dark Multiverse will be for DC's heroes."
While most event comics are trashy excuses to squeeze every last dollar bill out of an addicted fan's well-worn wallet, Metal seems primed to open up the DC Universe while not overly impacting the regular DC publishing schedule (read: you don't need to read this to keep up on your regular books). The tie-ins to ongoing series are almost all series which are sorely in need of the affiliation to get a monthly sales bump and, if you're unaware of how event comics work, you won't need to buy them to get the main storyline.
Even more, this may very well prove to be Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's swan song on Batman. The two legendary creators have moved on to other books, with Snyder taking more of an interest in his creator-owned titles and Capullo looking at doing other things for DC.
Dark Nights: Metal debuts in August. Its prequel, Dark Days: The Forge, is out now in comic book stores everywhere. And it's awesome. Let me know on Twitter (@LRM_Brian) what you think of this book after it debuts, or tell me if you've read The Forge! Personally, I'm looking forward to a rocking, heavy Metal end to the year.
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SOURCES: Scott Snyder (via Twitter), DC Comics