Guidebook

Dark Nights: Death Metal Guidebook # 1 review

This book contains five short comics and additional content to flesh out the world of Death Metal. I’ll briefly discuss each story individually before ending this review with my thoughts on additional content.

“The fall of the earth”

The first tape features some good art and incorporates some cool ideas, but at the same time, the execution of said ideas just doesn’t measure up. Essentially, this comic is a vast exhibition dump, and because of those many moments that could have stood out – like Batmage attacking Themyscira – feel like brief throwaway moments. This is the creative team’s attempt to explain some of the shortcomings of the main story, but we rush through each of these events so quickly that they all have no impact.

Plus, this tape has its fair share of questionable moments, which cause inconsistencies with the main story. For example, all of the Batmen villains here are featured as almighty warriors who are literally unstoppable no matter what the heroes throw at them. Darkfather, in particular, comes across as a monstrous powerhouse given that this Batman actually killed Darkseid and became the new Lord of Anti-Life. The idea of ​​only Teen Titans and Titans being sent after him is pretty silly, but there’s also the fact that Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman literally wiped the floor with this guy in Death Metal # 3. So, the way I see it, these Batman villains are unstoppable until the plot demands they be taken out, and when they’re taken out, it’s way too easy. That does not make sense.

Another example of inconsistent writing is the return of the Justice League from their fight against Perpetua on a Destroyed Earth. Their immediate thought is to expand, and the writers of this tape are even announcing that this is part of BWL’s plan, but it’s crazy! The Justice League has fought so many battles together, they should know that spreading is the dumbest thing they can do – it’s the oldest trick in the book: divide and conquer! Plus, separation is a choice the Justice League made, so how does that fit into BWL’s plan? You could say he probably has a contingency plan in case the League doesn’t decide to go their separate ways, but it’s so handy. Look, your villains can be as scary, powerful, and over the top as you want them to be, but there comes a time when you just have to take a step back and recognize that things are getting out of hand and getting harder and harder. and harder to take it all seriously. I don’t think the Justice League would fall apart when the whole world fell apart, and because I don’t believe it, everything else is very hard to believe as well. The moment Batman realizes that “their only hope would be to fight him together,” I roll my eyes.

It’s like the writers haven’t thought about it, or overthinking it, or maybe it’s a case of lazy writing. Either way, this tape boils down to a lot of talking about some great epic fights without actually showing any of the fights, and although most of the information we get is relevant and useful to Death Metal readers, learning it through this tape is not a pleasant experience. On the contrary, I found it quite boring and a chore to accomplish. It’s not even a complete story; at best this is only a summary.

Rating: 3/10


“Desert Metal Queen”

This tape offers a brief explanation of how Harley found her hyena. The art is quite good and features bright colors, dynamic fight scenes, and fun character designs, although the backgrounds can be bland and empty. The writing is fine – it’s not bad at all, but it’s also not very memorable, and most jokes just don’t work for me, in some cases because it’s not my kind of humor and in other cases because I do not understand a reference. I can’t help but wonder what this story is for. Instead of focusing on the actual bonding experience between Harley and the hyena, the focus is on a fight sequence in which, inexplicably, a mutated and hostile Captain Boomerang appears as the hyena transforms into the giant creature we saw in the core Death Metal problems. There really isn’t much to this tape, but at least it’s entertaining as long as it lasts and isn’t filled with boring exhibits.

Rating: 6/10


“Umibozu”

Without a doubt, this tape has the best art of the whole number. The layouts are clean and easy to follow. The designs, poses and expressions of the characters are excellent. Lovecraftian influences are delicious. And the colors blend beautifully with pencils and inks. Truly, this is a fantastic work of art! The writing, for the most part, is also pretty good: I love the rhythm of the lyrical storytelling, which feels like a kind of ebb and flow, and I love how defiant Aquaman is in this comic and how we let us see him plotting against Bathomet.

What I don’t like is how this tape starts out so strong but then runs out due to a lack of page count. I want to see more of this story, and I want to see Aquaman kick Bathomet’s ass, but these things are being left out, hopefully because the Death Metal the team wants to show these events elsewhere. Either way, not including it here means this story comes across as a setup for something else rather than a full reading experience. Since the writing and art is really good, cutting this story short is a bit of a shame, even if it’s on purpose. As a result, the tape feels a little bit useless, as it’s really not going anywhere right now.

Score: 7.5 / 10


“Seeds of Hope”

I think this is the best strip in the anthology because, even though it’s short, the creative team manages to tell a full story. It is about Ivy who tries to escape from her cell in Hell, but then meets Wonder Woman, who is still the warden of the prison. This comic shows Ivy’s reaction to seeing the destroyed and barren world above Hell, and how she returns to her cell, and how Wonder Woman finally tells her that she must hope, that they will take back their own. world. What I love about this tape is that Ivy ends up in a different place than where she started, which means she goes through a brief arc. It’s small and personal and efficient: the creative team shows us everything we need to see to understand this mini bow. It’s also uplifting, which is a big change of pace in an issue where we see most of our heroes fail. What the story could have developed is Ivy’s reaction to seeing the barren landscape once she comes out of hell. His reaction, as well as his emotional state, could reflect the landscape and vice versa more deeply, and thus reinforce the emotional impact of the story.

Art is good. The layouts are simple and efficient. The chase sequence seems to come from a horror story, and especially the shadows are well rendered. The character expressions, panel sequence, and character designs are also solid. Overall, this comic doesn’t go past its welcome and manages to say everything it wants to say.

Rating: 8/10


“Dragon Spear”

I am a fan of Eduardo Risso’s work. I love the soft colors he uses here because they give the story a dark, dark vibe that matches the world of Gotham and the horror genre. I love the use of the silhouettes and the jet black inks and shadows. I also love the action: the fluidity of the panels is excellent and the idea of ​​a dragon chasing Batman and Jonah Hex as they run across the rooftops of Gotham is well illustrated. But I don’t like the story itself.

Even though Batman and Jonah Hex are saying some interesting things that will likely make readers wonder what the Death Metal team planned for Batman, I just don’t find it very enjoyable. I’m all for a long Batman and Jonah conversation, but the dialogue feels slightly crushed and blurry. When I reach the final panel, I have a strong feeling of “Oh, is that it?” I just don’t think this tape will really hold up in the long run, and it feels a bit stuck at the end. But at least the art is good.

Rating: 6/10


The map

The guide comes with a map of Jared Blando’s Metalverse. First of all, I’m not a card expert and I don’t really feel qualified to rate one, so I’ll just write some general impressions, and the score is based on my feelings, not a technical understanding of the way to draw a map.

While this map wouldn’t work in a realistic setting at all, as different climates and landscapes are sort of scattered around, with a little suspension of disbelief and cartoon magic, the map is actually really cool. The least original element is that it is shaped like the Batman symbol, but the artist achieves this by making each part a separate landmass. It makes sense that Gotham would be the head of the Bat symbol, because that’s where BWL resides. The map also offers a lot of different landscapes for a much appreciated variety, and thus creates a strong sense of fantasy and adventure, and it makes me want to explore the Metalverse through the comics. So while the location of landmarks, places, and cities doesn’t always make sense, I appreciate that DC had an artist draw a map, and I love the aesthetic.

Rating: 9/10


Guide

The guide itself consists of single page entries taken from the narrator’s notebook of the first tape. I love that there are Greg Capullo pencils here, as if they were drawn by said narrator, and that we get information about various places, characters and situations. But all the information is also incredibly brief. Some of these entries do not have more than one sentence. Honestly, it feels like minimal effort has gone into creating this part of the guide and most of the creative energy has gone into the comics. I wish it was longer and more insightful, rather than a collection of what are basically just bullets. As it stands, I just don’t see why someone should have to take a guide who does a bit of a lazy job to introduce the Metalverse.

Rating: 4/10


Recommended if …

  • You live for the exhibition!
  • You want to collect all things Death Metal, no matter what.
  • You like anthology books and short comics.

Globally: I do not recommend this book. The first story isn’t very pleasant, and while the others are certainly a lot more fun than the first, most of them don’t really go anywhere. The guide material is rather drab and not really worth it. But there is some great art in this book, including a nice map of the Metalverse. Having said that, I recommend that you devote your time and hard-earned money to something else, as I don’t think it improves the reading experience of Death Metal at all.

Total score: 6/10

Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a pre-copy of this comic for the purposes of this review.


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