Available now, Tales from the Dark Multiverse #1 Dark Nights Metal is the latest event comic from DC Comics written by Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly, originating from a story by Scott Snyder, Jackson Lanzing, and Collin Kelly. Providing pencils and inks are Karl Mostert, Trevor Scott, and Norm Rapmund. Finally, rounding out an appropriately epic creative ensemble, Romulo Fajardo, Jr. provided the colors, and Andworld Design created the lettering.
The difficulty in judging event comics lies in the fact that they aren’t really singular books. Obviously, there has been lots of set up leading to this comic. Because of the natural dependence on what came before, nothing much happens in this book. Despite the strong concept and art, the story’s heavy exposition and clichés mean the book falls flat.
Tempus Fuginaut, an interdimensional deity meant to preserve the boundaries between worlds, opens the book explaining who he is and how this world was corrupted. Batman became Barbatos, and everything was destroyed, including most of the Justice League. Now Duke Thomas, a metahuman and former Robin, is one of the few left along with Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Iron Man, and Nightwing who must defeat Barbatos.
Into the Darkness
In disguise, Nightwing has managed to fend off demons and dragons with his “multiversal frequency disruptor” that looks an awful lot like an electric guitar. But neither he nor the Justice League has managed to defeat the villains. Instead, they hide, doing their best to survive.
Duke Thomas seems to be the underdog of the story, but it’s his hope that galvanizes the remaining Justice League, and he devises a plan. While the high concept and inspiring underdog story are all well and good, by the end, Duke Thomas has an easy time defeating the enemy.
Aside from Barbatos, the story’s main villain is the Batman Who Laughs, an evil hybrid of Batman and The Joker. He’s equipped with Zatanna’s magical hand and a Joker dragon hybrid who does the dirty work. Here, we see the strengths of this book: character design.
For example, The Batman Who Laughs, along with the rest of this dark, corrupted world, is full of sharp edges and muted coloring. Zatanna’s decomposing hand and the Joker Dragon are effectively disturbing for the same reason. Moreover, Zatanna’s hand permanently stuck in a Ronnie James Dio metal gesture and Nightwing’s guitar are a couple of decidedly metal aspects. Thus, Mostert, Scott, and Rapmund’s overall aesthetic are striking and exciting.
Andworld Design’s lettering, while fun, feels quite conventional in keeping with the established DC/Richard Starkings look. Unfortunately, each of these elements makes for a mediocre, forgettable read. Regardless of some conventionality, unnecessary expository monologues from Joker and Tempus Fuginaut, and plot conveniences, the most disappointing aspect of this event book is that it just isn’t very metal.