This year sees Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo reunite for Dark Nights: Death Metal, the follow-up to the 2017 DC Comics crossover event Dark Nights: Metal. The original event shaped the DC Universe in the years that followed, not only informing Snyder’s subsequent acclaimed run writing Justice League but also setting up DC’s line-wide Year of the Villain initiative. As if that wasn’t enough, Metal also introduced some of the most nefarious figures the heroes of the DCU have ever faced, and their regin of terror is only just beginning.
For those looking to prepare for Death Metal by revisiting the previous crossover series, here’s a quick overview of the story, what key issues to read and how Metal impacted the entire DCU while setting up its own direct sequel.
Two prologue issues written by Snyder and James Tynion IV, Dark Nights: The Forge #1 and Dark Nights: The Casting #1, illustrated by Jim Lee, John Romita, Jr. and Andy Kubert revealed that Batman had been haunted by visions of the Dark Multiverse. The unseen mirror to the DC Multiverse was where its various worlds were forged, with the seemingly infinite sea of alternate worlds containing twisted analogues to the regular DCU. Batman learned his visions were related to strange frequencies appearing all over the Earth, with his investigation revealing that frequencies were emitting from different mythical metals, including Hawkman’s Nth Metal, a magical metal from the wizard Shazam and the metal from the Anti-Monitor’s tower within the Fortress of Solitude.
Despite the Joker attempting to stop them from inside the Batcave, Batman, Green Lantern and Duke Thomas are able to construct a device powered by the different mythical metals by uniting their frequencies. The activated device allows Batman to confirm the existence of the Dark Multiverse while gazing into the source of his troubling visions. After using the device, Batman receives one more ominous vision of figures shrouded in darkness announcing the seal between the Dark Multiverse and main DCU had been broken, setting up the invasion of the Dark Knights.
The main Dark Nights: Metal crossover event ran for six issues, written by Snyder, pencilled by Capullo, inked by Jonathan Glapion and colored by FCO Plascencia. Led by the cackling Batman Who Laughs, seven Dark Knights descended on Earth, quickly bending it to their will. Each of the Dark Knights represented a Batman from the Dark Multiverse who mirrored the powers of the core members of the Justice League, and their leader was a Caped Crusader who had become murderously twisted by Joker Toxin and wiped out countless worlds in the Dark Multiverse. As the threat arose, Dream of the Endless made his DC Rebirth debut to guide Batman and Superman on a mission in the heart of the Dark Multiverse itself.
Outside of the core six issues, the origins of each of the Dark Knights were revealed across seven different one-shots. Seven different ongoing series would have their own tie-in issues to the event, which showcased the heroes resisting the Dark Multiverse invaders. Various superstar creative teams would also craft three interlude issues, with Batman Lost #1 set between issues #3 and #4, Hawkman Found #1 set between issues #4 and #5 and Dark Knights Rising: The Wild Hunt #1 set between issues #6 and #7. Of the tie-ins, the most vital to the core series were the three interlude issues while Tynion IV and Riley Rossmo’s The Batman Who Laughs #1 origin story was especially important in providing the backstory to the Dark Knights’ sinister leader.
While the Dark Knights were defeated by the DCU’s greatest heroes, the Source Wall that protected the borders of the DCU was shattered. This cataclysmic event would not only allow celestial threats from outside the DC Multiverse to enter the DCU but falso reed Perpetua, the villainous mother of the Monitor, Anti-Monitor and World Forger, who had been imprisoned within the Source Wall for eons. Lex Luthor organized the Legion of Doom to recover a piece of the Source Wall, known as the Totality, and Perpetua significantly boosted Lex’s power and made him her loyal vassal, with Luthor similarly upgrading many of the villains across the DCU.
The Batman Who Laughs was imprisoned under the Hall of Justice, only to reveal he was able to escape the entire time. After briefly joining forces with the Legion of Doom, the Dark Multiverse villain left to form his own team, corrupting heroes with his modified Joker toxin to menace their old friends and allies. Meanwhile, Wally West was recruited by Tempus Fuginaut to stop further incursions of the Dark Multiverse into the main DC Multiverse, with the barrier between the two multiverses still open and permeable.
All of these seemingly disparate threads are poised to converge in Death Metal this year, which has been teased to change the fabric of the DCU once again as the Justice League rallies after their epic confrontation against the Legion of Doom in the climactic story arc to Snyder’s run on the team series. With Perpetua and her Legion poised to conquer the entire DC Multiverse and the Batman Who Laughs still a wild card to be reckoned with, Death Metal looks to more than up the ante for the iconic superheroes of the DCU, which makes now the perfect time to catch up on the 2018 crossover event that started it all.
Before Dark Nights: Death Metal takes over the DC Universe, here's a quick guide for new readers for its predecessor, Dark Nights: Metal.