Guys…I’m mad. And I don’t mean Mad, I mean pissed off.
Yes that was a horrible joke. Thank you for noticing.
Look, I know we just started on this little adventure together and this will be only my second post of all time here and I’ve already been mad, but guys…this is bad.
Now, I don’t go into things wanting to hate them. I don’t want to hate anything. In fact, I’m actually pretty easy to please for the most part. I wouldn’t consider myself a snob in any way, at least not when it comes to entertainment. I mean, here is a small list of some of my favourite things:
- Daredevil (2003 film)op09
- King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
- Prison School
- Highschool of the Dead
- Goblin Slayer
- All Star: Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder
I think you get the point.
I’m not shy when it comes to liking the traditionally unlikeable. I’m not scared to find the good things in cheesy schlock. In fact, I quite enjoy it. I like stupid, I like exploitation, and I like fun.
If something’s not meant to be taken seriously, then I’m not going to take it seriously. I can totally sit back and enjoy the ride.
But my patience has its limits.
And when you give me something that promises epic, that promises fun, that promises to be like nothing you’ve ever seen before…and you hand over an unfinished, clichéd, incoherent piece of shit that’s riddled with plot holes and plot contrivances?
You bet your sweet jiggly ass I’m pissed.
And that’s EXACTLY what Dark Nights: Metal is to me.
WHAT IS DARK NIGHTS: METAL?
It is a waste of fucking paper.
And I have NO IDEA why it is not getting panned online. Maybe I just haven’t been seeing the right reviews, but the reviews I HAVE been seeing give it 7/10, 3.5/5, B to B+.
If this is a B+ then I don’t want to know what you think is crap.
I have also seen someone give it a 9/10… Good lord… who hurt you?
Because this is unfinished. It just doesn’t read like a finished product. And don’t tell me I need to read the tie-ins to get the full story. Fuck that. If it’s not in the main story, the main event, THEN IT DIDN’T FUCKING HAPPEN.
Don’t tell me the writer has done a GOOD JOB if you need side stories to fill in the gaps. That’s NOT good storytelling. I believe that tie-ins should be used to ENRICH a story, not provide VITAL pieces of information the main story-writer couldn’t be fucked to include.
I just don’t understand it. This book should have everything I love about DC in it. It has the Justice League, it has an amazing artist; it has elements of dark fantasy, scifi and elements that remind me of ancient epics and mythology!
It has fucking JOKER DRAGONS!!!
HOW DO YOU MAKE SOMETHING WITH JOKER DRAGONS AND MAKE ME NOT GIVE A SHIT?!
How do you make a story with Dark-Universe-Batman versions of DC’s most iconic super heroes and make it so BORING and CONTRIVED and TRITE?
WHAT WENT WRONG?
I really don’t know. I have some idea, but come on DC I know you can do better than this!
It’s definitely NOT because of Greg Capullo. This is some of the best art in a comic I’ve seen. I mean…when you can see it and it’s not drowned out or ruined by the incessant need to put fucking word bubbles and narration boxes EVERYWHERE…
And I’ll just say it now: I really like Scott Snyder. And I don’t want to blame him for this book. There’s someone else I’d like to throw under the bus, but HIS distinct lack of oversight on this project is actually probably better than if he was actually involved at all… We’ll talk about THAT prick later.
Wytches is one of my favourite comics of all time. I know Scott can be a good writer. Pinkie warned me that his Batman run wasn’t exactly his best work, but Christ almighty it’s better than this. He should be better than this.
The truth of the matter is the writing is just shit. I think this team was given zero creative oversight and were let loose to do WHATEVER they wanted. The ONLY person where I’ve seen that work is Grant Morrison.
This shit needed an editor, or at least a better one. Someone needed to tell Scott he wasn’t making a damn lick of sense, and that he was dropping themes and plot threads like they were diseased. This desperately needed a guiding hand, or at least some editor’s notes, to keep the team on a single, coherent track instead of bouncing from one idea to another like some bouncy ball set loose in an antique store.
You know, I desperately wanted to like this. As I was reading it, I gave it chance after chance after chance to impress me. And while it did look cool, and did go big and sprawling with its story, and while it did use characters you wouldn’t expect (and that was kind of fun)… This was a steaming pile of crap and I just got gigglered by it.
So…here’s why Dark Nights: Metal sucks.
FINALLY, ENOUGH BITCHING
I’m going to be going through this event issue-by-issue. And I’m going to try and review it as if it was my first time reading it. I’m going to TRY to recapture some of the excitement and hope I felt before reading Dark Nights: Metal and judge each issue by it’s own merit. Only when I start getting deep into the review will I bring up other issues and how the story functions as a whole. I will never refer to something that “hasn’t happened yet”. Any issues I bring up will be ones I’ve already covered.
Which is why, for this review, I will say nothing more about how much this event sucks or how much I hate it.
Now, we will be travelling back in time. We’ll be venturing to the land of three weeks ago, when I first picked up this book and began to read it. When I was still youthful and full of life and wonder and hope…
Considering this is my first proper review on this site, I should explain how things are done.
For every review I post, I will be outlining a rubric – like a teacher would for an assignment at school – that outlines what I am expecting from the material I am reviewing. Each subject gets a different set of criteria it needs to meet, but there is some overlap between the genres.
Based on how well or how poorly a work meets these criteria, I will be giving it a letter grade. To see an explanation of my grading system, go here.
During my reviews I will also be smack dab in the middle of spoiler territory, so if you’d like to see the basics of my opinion and a condensed version of my points for and against any work, there will also be a summary of my review (sans major spoilers) at the very bottom of the page with a percentage grade instead of a letter grade.
For comics specifically, what follows is a list of what I look for to determine whether or not a comic is good or bad (in my opinion). So without further ado, here’s the rubric I will be using to judge Dark Nights: Metal, Issue #1:
- If this matters to the story, does it account for the stories happening around it, or that have happened before it?
- Is it realistic? Does it get across its intended purpose? Does it flow? Is it consistent to the character speaking? Does it serve a purpose beyond just exposition?
- Does it make sense? Is it easy to follow the sequence of events? Were events properly foreshadowed?
- If there’s a point, is it made and is it made well?
- Is there depth? If not, is there at least some level of intrigue?
- Linework (and Inking)
- How does it look? For inking, is it noticeable? Does it get the job done?
- Do the text bubbles clutter the page, or do they organically work with the art to help tell the story?
- Is it well implemented? Does it fit the tone of the work? Is basic colour theory used? If something experimental is being done, does it work?
- Forms, Proportions, and Perspective
- Do things look the way they should? If not, is this because of a stylistic decision or because of ineptitude?
- Does the artist have a specific style that they like to use, and is it aesthetically pleasing within the context of the work? Is the artist’s style distracting or obnoxious? Dull and bland?
With these things in mind, let’s get on to the review.
Our story begins 50,000 years ago, with a nameless narrator telling us about three tribes who lived in harmony during the stone age: the Tribe of the Wolf, the Tribe of the Bear, and the Tribe of the Bird. But then the Fire Nation attacked. Actually no, that’s a lie, but a fourth tribe does appear and it’s bad news, and across the sands that showed the little symbols for each of the other tribes you see the shadow of Batman’s cowl. Then the shadow completely overtakes the final panel, and the other tribes’ symbols are marred by blood. The narrator tells us that with the appearance of this new dark tribe came The Age of Metal.
Alright, Scott. You have my attention.
We skip to the present day where our heroes, the Justice League, are fighting in some kind of gladiator cosmodrome. They’re all wearing this cool plate-metal armor and they’ve got some crude weapons on them. Purple alien blood and offal stains our heroes’ weapons and clothing as they all stand together, united against their foe.
Turns out, the evil dictator Mongul escaped the Braalians (as Batman explains) and has now established a “new war moon”. But I guess none of that really matters cos Wonder Woman tells Bruce to sftu because they need to focus on winning. Fair enough.
Mongul monologues and won’t shut up, then he releases seven freaky robot things, one for each hero. These robots are specifically designed for each hero and know their respective hero’s fighting style and weaknesses. The heroes try their best and put up a good fight, but the robots are winning! Dun dun duuuuun.
Wonder Woman tries to get everyone into a battle formation, but Batman figures something out about the robots. He smirks as he crawls inside his robot’s mouth and presses a weird button with the Batsymbol on it. And then tentacles come out and grab him. They wrap around his body and he yells out to the others to follow his lead. Reluctantly, they do as Batman says. They all crawl into the mouths of their robots, hit their buttons, and let themselves get eaten.
And then the coolest shit happens. The robots, now with the heroes nestled inside them, turn into a Mega Zord – like from Power Rangers! And they turn on Mongul, who looks like he’s just shat his pants.
Batman then tells Flash (whose robot became the right foot of the Mega Zord) to kick his…
…cos you turn the page and you get the title for the event…
And that’s it. There’s your setup for the series.
It was really, really, REALLY hard to read this again, knowing where the series heads. But that doesn’t matter right now.
What matters is holyshitwhatthefuckthatwasthecoolestthingI’veeverseeninmyentirewholebloodylife.
Seriously, that was AWESOME.
It’s kind of nonsensical and really fucking weird, but it’s also ten kinds of badass! You want to start a series called Metal off right? Mega Zord is definitely the right decision.
It’s pretty good. The basics are all there: you’ve set up a premise, you introduced some action, and you’ve introduced an excellent thematic device that foreshadows the coming fight.
Knowing that this story is supposed to be about the Justice League squaring off against Batman versions of themselves, the idea of pitting the Justice League against an enemy that’s designed to take them out is a fantastic idea. THAT is really cool storytelling. Since we all know that Batman has spent probably way too much time thinking about how he can kill all his friends, and these robots are designed with the only purpose of killing the Justice League, it’s a really interesting parallel that Scott is drawing. And the visual representation of the team needing to trust Batman and do something crazy in order to defeat their enemies, just to come out stronger together, is beautiful.
It’s like Scott went, “Hey, here’s the perfect microcosm for the story I’m about to tell guys! Enjoy! Something BIGGER and BETTER is on the way!”
The dialogue is kind of another story.
There’s lot of it. Like…a lot.
I mean, having Mongul be a ridiculous villain who never shuts up is pretty funny, but, like, nobody shuts up. Luckily, the writing in the issue is pretty good, so it’s not that bad. I mean, the Justice League are pretty chatty, and I found Batman to be chattier than I’m used to, but I guess it fits the scenario pretty well. I mean, they are actively trying to strategize to each other while fighting on a noisy battlefield. So, while it does feel a little much, it’s not egregious.
The story here in issue #1 does its job well and I’m happy with it. It succeeded in getting me hyped for the coming issues, and I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes from here.
Also good on Scott for mentioning why Mongul is there. I don’t know much about the character or his story, but Pinkie was happy. He’s been reading a lot of Bendis lately, so seeing someone actually using continuity was a treat.
- Continuity – A+
- Dialogue – A
- Coherence – A
- Conciseness – A+
- Development – A+
I mean, come on. It’s Capullo. You know it’s going to be fantastic. If he can make Spawn look as amazing as Todd MacFarlane thinks he is, then the man can do anything. But in this issue specifically, Capullo’s art is pretty phenomenal. And you can tell he had fun designing that robot. It’s just…it’s so perfect.
When you can see around the ridiculous amount of word bubbles and giant-ass sound effects, the art really holds up. This is going to be timeless.
FCO Plascencia’s colouring is also very good. It’s nice to look at and it’s easy to see what’s going on. Sometimes the panels can look a little flat and washed out, but the heroes always look really colourful and I guess that’s the point in this issue.
The biggest issue I have art-wise would be the lettering. There are SO MANY instances where Greg Capullo’s art is kind of squashed by the word bubbles. It’s not TOO bad, but it is slightly distracting, especially with an artist as good as Capullo. And the whole crowd screaming “Do not run! Pain is fun!” for exactly two panels…I mean I don’t know if I should blame lettering or writing or editing, but someone should have cut that. It’s silly, it adds nothing, and it’s just obnoxious.
For a first issue, though, the art is great.
- Linework (and Inking) – A+
- Lettering – B-
- Colour – A
- Forms, Proportions, and Perspective – A+
- Style – A+
Despite the name of this subtitle, and just to echo a sentiment from earlier, this is not a final mark for the event as a whole. This is just the final mark for this particular issue. The final mark for the entire series will come much, much later.
As issues #1 go, this is practically perfect in every way (Disney, don’t sue).
Seriously, though, if you’re looking to get into comic writing and you’re not sure how to open a story, read this issue. It sets up themes for the book as a whole, it’s interesting and gets readers right into the middle of the action, and the art is fantastic.
If you need a better reason to read more, then shit I don’t know…maybe include a complimentary dollar store pen with purchase?
Y’know, just for a lil extra.
Final Grade A+
Now I realize I went on quite the rant about how much I hate this event, and here I am giving the first issue an A+. I hope this illustrates to you that I don’t hate this for no reason. I don’t hate Dark Nights: Metal because I want to be contrarian or whatever. I hate it because it disappointed me.
This issue really is fantastic. The first time I read it, I was amazed and I was excited. And even reading it again, I remember how I felt reading it the first time around. And there are things now I want to desperately bring up here, but for the sake of maintaining my credibility (what little I have) and for the sake of keeping this review as promised, I have to hold my tongue for a few more weeks.
- Art is beautiful. Cupollo is on point.
- Set up and action are epic.
- Justice League Mega Zord
- You don't get to see the Mega Zord fight. 🙁