I fucking hate everything!
I know that the angry reviewer is a terribly over-done trope in internet reviews meant for entertainment by now, but I just. Can’t. Fucking. HELP. IT.
I loathe this book.
I fucking despise it.
Just when I think it’s kicked me hard enough in the stomach, it makes a go for my face.
I…I think issue #4 is the worst issue yet.
Issue #1 had the problem of tonal whiplash to the point that it honestly reads like two separate stories, then issue #2 is boring and characters don’t behave like themselves and Snyder explains way too much, and then finally issue #3 is just…it’s a clusterfuck. It’s a disaster of boring plot threads, confusing character motivations, more characters not behaving like themselves, and the most interesting parts of this story being relegated to background noise explained by the characters while the real “meat” of the story is just people bitching at each other.
Oh, this issue. It does everything issue #3 does but worse.
How? Well…let’s just dive the fuck in.
- 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?
And on to the story…
So, this issue starts with a pointless recap of everything that’s overlong and shows off how the letterer doesn’t know how to do his job properly yet again.
From there, the story branches off into four different directions based on the four groups of heroes we were left with last issue: Wonder Woman’s team at the Rock of Eternity, Aquaman’s team at Atlantis, Green Lantern’s team at Thanagar Prime, and Superman and Batman trapped in the Dark Universe.
Wonder Woman, Doctor Fate and Kendra “Bitchface” Saunders fight two golem things at the Rock of Eternity that apparently represent the seven deadly sins. We only ever see the two, but I guess apparently there were seven. They’re taken out so easily that they might as well not even be there, but we need some action in between all this exposition guys! And it gives Snyder excuses to pun some more.
Kendra bitches again and Wonder Woman tells her to lighten up.
When they finish fighting, Wonder Woman tries to get in contact with everyone else but can’t. She and Doctor Fate then talk about how they feel something weird when Kendra pulls out the Anti-Monitor brain “in its compressed form” and tries to destroy the Dark Universe.
She almost succeeds, but for absolutely no reason Kendra collapses and transforms into Lady Blackhawk (which…she technically already is ‘cos that’s her most recent moniker but whatever…) and she zaps Doctor Fate while spouting out Barbatos’ catchphrase.
Then Black Adam shows up and says he and Vandal Savage cut a deal to be happy little slaves to Barbatos in exchange for stopping them…
We…we’ll come back to this.
Aquaman and Deathstroke reach Atlantis’ outskirts where the tomb thing whatever they need is located. All the guards are dead and the random fishies around can’t tell who did it.
Aquaman is uncomfortable being there, but Deathstroke just kind of breaks something and they discover a hole into some serious depths, and they decide to go down it to hopefully find the Nth metal they need.
Also, Deathstroke is a quippy asshole. I mentioned this in my Civil War II vs. Dark Nights: Metal article, so I don’t really need to go over how wrong this is again but…I will.
Later, my pets.
Green Lantern, Mr. Terrific and the Plastic Egg are welcomed to Thanagar Prime by their leader Onimar Synn, a dude who looks like an off-brand Darksied.
He tells the heroes that he ate the Nth metal they want and that he enlisted the help of the universe’s most powerful telepath: Starro!
Who now talks?
Even though he’s never talked before…ever…in anything…cos, yknow…he’s a giant starfish…
None of his dialogue adds anything either, but I’ll get to that later.
Onimar explains that the Thanagarians have known about Barbatos’ plans for eons and so created this giant canon to destroy Earth to save the multiverse and they needed the Plastic Egg to do it because…reasons, I guess. Maybe it’s in a tie-in.
Superman and Batman
So, this is the story that takes up most of the issue. It’s the story we begin with after our recap, and it’s the story we end with.
It begins with Batman being tortured by some evil versions of Clark Kent, cos if y’all remember, Barbatos didn’t need Batman, he really needed Superman!
Or…well, he did need Batman to open the portal, but I guess now he needs Superman to power the portal? It’s never explained…I guess you’re just supposed to go with it…
Sure, let’s explain etymology, but not the basic plans or motivations of our main villain… This shit gets 9/10s people…
I will mention here that Pinkie was offended that the blue, electric version of Superman from the late 90s appears as a nightmare, evil incarnation of the Man of Steel because he actually kind of liked that run, even if most of the comic-reading population didn’t. Just kind of felt like a slap in the face to an attempt at a change to the status quo.
Anyway, Blue Superman, Superbats, and Lex Luthor Superman all start taunting Batman about his Clark. Batman zeroes in on Superbats and steals a glove from him, which turns out to be one of Batman’s gadgets known as the Five Finger Death Punch, which has every colour of Kryptonite in the knuckles.
Batman threatens the Soopses with it, and they point out that if he uses it then his Clark will be hurt too.
Just then Batman remembers what Dream told him what feels like a million issues ago now and says the magic words. Dream teleports the heroes to the Dreaming and rescues them.
Upon greeting them, however, Batman starts screaming at Dream for not caring about them and demanding why he didn’t come rescue them…but like…he just did. I’ll get into this later as well, but…Batman’s kinda senile, I guess?
Anyway, the whole purpose of this plot point is just to have Dream explain more things to Batman and Superman and confuse Snyder’s already muddy and tangled plot even further. Because now this dark god that looks like a nazgûl Batman is actually a dragon thing that embodies death and destruction. It really, ultimately, changes nothing about the story or how we view Barbatos as a villain…at all. But whatever.
Dream tells them they need to go to the Forge of Creation to find the metals they seek to defeat Barbatos and then gives this really weird and pointless description of the metals…
The point is, he gives our heroes a fast-pass to the forge, but they need to think happy thoughts before they go through or they’ll get lost. Then Batman gets depressed and thinks he can’t be happy anymore and Superman has to remind him that he has kids and then, like Holden Caulfield with that fucking carousel, he’s just suddenly happy and fine again. So…that served no purpose either. Great.
They get to the forge no problem but complain once they get there that their greatest fear has been realised: the forge has gone dark. I’m gonna call bullshit on that, because Capullo’s drawing shows a very bright and lava-filled forge…I mean, sure, most of it is dark, but there’s clearly still molten stuff around so the forge isn’t cold yet.
Whatever, all hope is lost, and then Hawkman appears! But it’s not really Hawkman because now he’s giant and wields a big hammer and looks scary as hell and he’s now the guardian of the forge for Barbatos and his most loyal slave.
So…I guess everything’s fucked now.
How will Snyder get himself out of this one?…
Pinkie and I found so many things wrong with this issue that we have to break up our critiques into sub-categories…there’s a lot to cover.
We are four issues into this fucking event and Snyder STILL has to explain pretty basic shit in excruciating detail.
The problem is, whenever Snyder explains things, he also doesn’t explain things. Like, he’ll go on and on about random shit that doesn’t really matter, but when it comes to actual important things that a reader might need to know he’s suddenly like, “Uh…you can fill in the gaps yourself!”
We really didn’t need two whole pages explaining Barbatos’ origins as a pissy pet to some god no one has ever heard about, but it would have been nice to know why exactly Kendra is now one of Barbatos’ minions. We get one throwaway line about how she “feels him” in her bones, or whatever, but that doesn’t exactly scream “I’M GONNA BE A SLAVE SOON, GUYS. HELP”. There are plenty of characters who’ve said similar things, like Nightwing. Everyone is pretty freaked out right now and feels hopeless, so this throwaway line doesn’t serve as foreshadowing at all.
And then that just brings up questions. Questions like, why Kendra? As far as we’ve seen, other than her always being a rude meanie, there’s nothing indicating why she would be more susceptible to mind control than anyone else. Is it because she’s been around Nth metal so much? But everyone has at this point. And Batman was researching it, so why isn’t he affected? But maybe it has something to do with Carter Hall? Like, since they’re lovers and Hawkpeople, maybe it’s a BOGO deal?
And I know people will say, “Just enjoy the ride, man,” but I can’t! Snyder won’t let me! He put these fucking explanations in for a reason, and if they’re half assed you’d better believe I’ll notice it and call it out, especially when it contradicts shit he established only a few issues ago!
Like how Barbatos is now some kind of dragon thing that knows only destruction? Sure, fine, whatever, I could believe that. But then we get this long-winded explanation about how his master was the Forge Master and he was the one who created these worlds for his brothers, the Monitor and Anti-Moniter, to watch over? Ok…that’s not at all what DC’s origin is, but sure, you’re allowed to change things. But then we hear that Barbatos got sick of being a pet, so killed the Forge Master. Ok…but then how are new worlds being created?
No seriously. How?
Because Barbatos was created for the sole purpose of devouring fucked up and broken worlds that couldn’t sustain its existence because they were made of nightmares, like all the worlds the Dark Knights are from. But these worlds are forged from the nightmares of individuals. We were told that, meaning the worlds of the Dark Knights couldn’t have been made because Dream is telling this story as though it happened eons ago, when Batman wasn’t a thing. So, who’s making the nightmare worlds? It can’t be Barbatos, because Dream said he knows only destruction. That’s why he killed his master! And they can’t be just making themselves, because then what would have been the point of a cosmic Forge Master to begin with!?
There’s always the possibility that Dream is bullshitting, but…why?
When reading this book, I was more than willing to shut off my brain and just have some fun. I often do that with comics. Even when comics try to explain some pretty outlandish shit, I’m often able to switch off and just suspend my disbelief.
My problem is not my ability to have fun or suspend disbelief. My problem is that every bit of information the writer gives me contradicts itself so quickly that I wind up just getting confused instead of having fun, which then leads frustration that I’m wasting my time reading something with what appears to have no fucking thought put into it, and yet it makes a fuckton of money and gets endless amounts of praise when there are better balls-to-the-wall crazy stories out there that aren’t confusing, aren’t pointless and full of plot holes, and aren’t a waste of my fucking time.
Pinkie and I identified four different times the dialogue (and sometimes the imagery) suggests the moments on-panel are meant to be viewed as “badass”. As a reader, they should get your blood pumping and get you excited to see what’s coming next and what our heroes are gonna do.
They all suck.
And they all suck for different reasons.
The first “badass” line we get is from old man Bruce who grabs the Five Finger Death Punch glove from Superbats. The line is:
“How super are you feeling today, farm boys?”
…I cringe every time.
This could have been a cool moment. Here’s a run-down, old, beaten to shit Batman who is proving he’s still got it and that he’s still more than willing to take on some gods for his friends.
HOWEVER, the lines preceding this one ruin the momentum of the “badass” line and make it seem like Snyder is trying too hard to evoke the spirit of Dirty Harry. It doesn’t help that the art is shit for these panels, not really giving us anything cool or interesting to look at when Batman says the line – also it makes old man Batman kind of look like Clint Eastwood – and then the line itself isn’t even separated, so it doesn’t really get the honour of being a proper badass line.
The one cool panel, where the line would have worked perfectly, has been dedicated to explaining the glove, lovingly named after some rock band Capullo has done cover art for. The panel featuring the line shows like not even an inch of the glove’s knuckles with the evil Superman all looking terrified (I guess) and backing away from him.
It ruins the line, it makes me cringe, but not as much as the FUCKING. PUNS.
This time, it’s Wonder Woman punning it up. She cleaves a deadly sins golem’s head in two as she’s trying to convince Kendra that she needs to trust them and that they’re her friends. She says,
“You need to open…up!”
This one isn’t so much “badass” as it is Snyder thinking he’s terribly funny and clever by doing puns again and using a character who doesn’t pun much (if ever) to do it. Cos, ha, that’s why.
I hate it.
So. Fucking. Much.
Back to badass, though, we have Kendra’s transformation to evil Kendra, which came from nowhere! Doctor Fate utters her name in shock at her transformation and she responds,
“No, not Kendra. I am, Lady Blackhawk.”
So, here’s the problem…beyond the grammar being just wrong, Kendra was already Lady Blackhawk. Like…that’s already her name. It’s already her alter ego. So…I don’t really get it, I guess is what I’m saying? It would have been more badass and threatening if she had said something along the lines of, “No, not Kendra. Not anymore,” and then spouted off that all roads lead to blahblahblah.
Also, can I just say that, even though I hate this line, I would much prefer it if OTHER people said it and Barbatos NEVER did. Like how Darksied’s catchphrase is technically, “Darksied is,” but he never says it, it’s just how people describe him.
Villains should never be their own hype man, unless they’re super charismatic and crazy like the Joker, Vaas, or Pagan Min, or if it’s done satirically to show off how ridiculous they are like Doctor Drakken, Kiteman, or Mandark. Then it’s ok.
I guess the only other exception would be Lex Luthor, who is both ridiculous and charismatic. His ego warrants it, at least.
Finally, there’s the reveal of Carter Hall as the new dragon of the Dark Universe. He’s not a dragon like Barbatos was a dragon though, considering there’s no way a being of pure destruction could create worlds, and so wouldn’t need a giant garbage disposal unit. Instead, he’s actually kind of more like a glorified guard dog. Anyway, he greets Superman and Batman who come upon the “darkened” forge, saying,
“I am Carter Hall, Dragon of Barbatos, Keeper of the Dark Forge. And there are only endings here.”
…do I even have to explain why this is cringe? Like…he talks SO much. Here’s one of the times Capullo actually draws something fuckin’ metal, and the impact is undercut by the fact that the goddamned character, who we already recognize cos HELLO GIANT HAWKMAN, has to give us his CVV before delivering a good line. He really should have just said, “There are only endings here,” but noooooooooooo. Snyder has to explain every-fucking-thing!!!!!
Something all of these “badass” moments share is the fact that Snyder doesn’t seem confident enough to just let the moment hang. Badassery comes from simplicity. It comes from a cool, in-the-moment reaction.
Some of these lines were salvageable, but someone needed to fucking edit! Either Snyder himself should have done a much needed second draft, or the goddamned editors should have done their fucking job and cut the fat! It’s really distracting to read, and it spoils whatever little fun moments I could have had with the event.
The “Heartwarming” Moment
Fucking fuck. This was painful to read.
I think it’s pretty clichéd at this point to show Batman depressed. Like…fucking come on, guys. Bruce Wayne has more than “broody” on his list of character traits, and the fact that you needed to be hopeful in order to cross through safely just seems so unnecessarily tacked on just so we could have this really forced heart-to-heart between Bats and Soops.
Also why did Bats think of Damian first? I realize Damian is his kid, but he’s kind of an asshole… Bruce loves him, I know, but the son who really gives him hope is Dick. Why wasn’t it Dick he thinks of first to cheer him up? Why not Tim? We all know why not Jason, but he deserves some love too! And then there’s Barbara and Alfred, maybe even Selina. Why doesn’t he think of his whole family to help cheer him up? It just seemed weird to have him name Damian and then go “Oh yeah, and the other kids too”.
Didn’t ring true for me.
There are a lot of these…we have to sub-categorize this sub-category.
- It’s Snyderbats…so technically he is in character, but anything Bruce Wayne Batman-related Snyder writes is out of character so…yeah.
- Wonder Woman
- She doesn’t fucking pun.
- He doesn’t fucking pun.
- He’s not a “wise-cracker”, and he’s not a goof. Seriously, what’s wrong with just having a cool, hard-ass jerk? Where’s the psychopath voiced by Ron Perlman who goes out of his way to try and kill children? Where’s the stone-cold killer who slept with a 15-year-old Teen Titan double agent to try and kill children?…ok, we don’t have to revisit that, but you catch my drift. Deathstroke is SCARY. SCARY doesn’t PUN.
- Black Adam and Vandal Savage
- They are fucking egotistical megalomaniacs! Black Adam has gone out of his way to defend the Earth from outside forces before because he’ll be dead before anyone touches Kahndaq. There is no way in HELL he would ever team up with an enslaving entity just to cut a deal. And Vandal Savage is the epitome of alpha male. You really think anyone could offer him anything to convince him to play second fiddle to anyone? Fuck off. Fuck right off. Also, Vandal Savage was one of the ones to impose the use of the Anti-Monitor brain to destroy the dark universe! I guess that was a ruse? Out of nowhere! ARGH. SHOW DON’T TELL, DAMNIT.
- He’s a goddamned space starfish…HE DOESN’T TALK.
- He’s a goof…WHY?????? He’s supposed to be a echinoderm version of Galactus. He’s a planet eating monster who uses spores to mind control everyone to make eating their home easier. He’s not technically a telepath and he’d never be some random asshole’s pet. Christ.
- I don’t even know what he is anymore. Morrison made him a bomb that was mistaken for a god, Snyder made him a god, now he’s a god’s pet that murdered his master. He’s an agent of pure chaos and destruction, but he now makes worlds? Or they make themselves? Who even knows anymore!?!?!?!?!?
- What the fucking shit is his plan? He wanted to come to the normal universe in order to make the lynchpin Earth dark, so everything becomes dark. But he also wanted to drag the lynchpin Earth into the dark universe, not just infect it, causing all the other Earths to tumble into the dark. But he also doesn’t want to make the other fifty-one Earths tumble into the dark, he just wants the Earth, and then the infection of darkness will spread making everything dark…? I…I don’t even. What is any of this? What does “dark” as a concept even mean anymore? I’ve said to too many times for it to carry any legitimate meaning…
Fuck you too, Snyder
This is one that bothered me, but not Pinkie. It’s when Starro is introduced and talking. The editors, who were so damn frustrating last issue, have now actually pointed out something. Tay tries citing when Starro was supposed to have regrown himself from a single tentaclaw after Mr Miracle apparently blew him up and ends up asking Snyder when this happened. In response, Snyder and Capullo (signing their names as Scott & Greg) reply with a little drawing of the oh so classic “devil horns” hand symbol every rock and roller should know.
Pinkie found this somewhat amusing. Or, at least, he saw how some could consider this amusing.
I do not.
To me, they might as well have left a little emoji middle finger for us readers.
Here they’ve introduced something new and weird and they’re acting like it has been established in the lore, but clearly it hasn’t, and instead of just kind of leaving it alone and shrugging off whatever confused questions readers might have, they instead opted to flat out insult anyone who’s actually curious where the fuck this is coming from.
This isn’t funny. This isn’t cute. This isn’t metal.
This makes me angry. This just comes across as so incredibly disrespectful and pointlessly cavalier. If anything proves my theory that these guys just honestly didn’t give a shit about the final product, there it is.
Continuity – D
Dialogue – C
Coherence – R
Conciseness – D
Development – D-
Capullo is a great artist.
Even great artists fuck up.
This issue is almost entirely a fuck up.
We do get some legitimately cool imagery. I mean, Hawkman looks metal as fuck and it’s really only the dialogue that ruins it, but there are some really big mistakes art-wise throughout the issue.
For one, it just seems like Capullo didn’t really care to think about panel-to-panel continuity or how to set up his frames. Like that really awkward part where you see only the knuckles of the Five Finger Death Punch glove thingy and then some worried looking evil Supermen. It’s…it’s an ugly panel. It’s kind of hard to tell that it’s the knuckles of the glove you’re looking at, and the faces of the Supermen are all so small that their fear of the glove does not come across clearly at all, and it’s such a tiny panel that it makes the long winded set up for the “badass” line appear even clunkier than it already is.
Then there’s the seven deadly sins golems at the Rock of Eternity! There are only two! Did he not want to draw more than two? Why not? Even if he didn’t have the pages to show off the whole fight, you could at least show off the bodies of the other five who’ve been defeated already, right? Just…somewhere?
But probably the worst mistake is the reveal of the forge. Now I don’t know who’s to blame for this one because technically it’s the colourists but apparently Capullo likes being very specific but also it doesn’t seem like Snyder was so good at leaving panel descriptions…it doesn’t really matter because whoever it was clearly doesn’t understand what a cold forge looks like. Bitch, that shit is supposed to be DARK.
LOOK AT IT.
DOES THAT LOOK LIKE A DARK FORGE TO YOU!?
THERE IS LIGHT EVERYWHERE.
You can still clearly see molten metal cooking about! I mean, yeah, the centre of the forge is all black, but it looks more like it’s just a little crusty. It’s not a cold forge yet! A cold forge should be pitch black. All that heat and lava just illustrates to me as a reader that there’s still hope, which totally goes against the dialogue that’s saying “it’s too late”.
Bitch, no it ain’t! There’s hot shit everywhere! CLEARLY there’s something you can still fucking do!
Visually it just doesn’t make any sense! And fucking Christ, it’s so frustrating. I’m already confused by the storytelling and dialogue thanks to Snyder. The one thing I should be able to find solace in is the pretty pictures, but they so often don’t match what the characters are saying that it’s almost like someone took the art from one book and the dialogue from the other and just mushed them together, wrapped it in foil, and sold it for forty bucks!
I can’t believe how much talent is fucking wasted in this goddamned book. I need to douse it in holy water and incense lest its putrefying miasma affect my creative abilities, what few there are.
Linework (and Inking) – C
Lettering – C-
Colour – D-
Forms, Proportions, and Perspective – A-
Style – C-
Fuck this book.
There are only two issues left, but I think this will turn out the be the worst one. It’s god awful. It’s actually painful to read. It fucking broke Pinkie, the most optimistic person I know, who will defend shit like ASBAR, Trouble, Civil War II, and, at one point, Dark Nights: Metal!
He was the one who thought I was overreacting when I told him how shit it was and how much I hated it. Now, after rereading and actually analysing this issue he can’t fucking stand it anymore. He actually got more riled up than I did sometimes, mostly because he can’t stand circuitous schemes and Barbatos’ plot is just a giant spiral of “what the actual fuck do you even want?”
The more I read this book, the more I find it frustrating. It’s not the worst book I’ve ever read, or even the worst one I own, but it just makes me so mad!!!!
Again, I should love this book. I like metal, I like dark and spooky imagery, I like Greg Capullo and I love Scott Snyder. Pinkie just got me to read Black Mirror and holy shit that book is good. I mean, it’s not flawless by any means, but it’s actually enjoyable. I stayed up ridiculously late one night so I could read it all. I just couldn’t put it down! And I feel like I should feel the same towards Metal.
I’m sorry if this review is a little shorter than the others, or a little less analytical, but beyond getting into the specific details for this issue, literally everything else that I’ve mentioned I hate about this event thus far was in this issue. The reason the mark is so low in this issue is because not only were there added annoyances that made reading it absolute hell, but every other mistake I’ve seen earlier has shown up again! Sometimes events, as the issues go on, improve somewhat. The pace picks up, the stakes raise, and the heroes can start doing some fun stuff. Not here! Not at all. I still feel like this is setup, and for an issue #4 out of a six-issue story, that’s really bad news.
Final Grade: D
Coming up next should be a few long-awaited movie reviews! Also, the next issue of Metal…whenever we get to it…fuck.
Until next time!
- Hawkman is metal af
- Snyder needs to learn his DC characters better
- Snyder needs to STOP expositing!
- The art doesn't always match the story