Title: Dark Days: The Road to Metal
Writer(s): Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV
Illustrator(s): Jim Lee, Andy Kubert & John Romita Jr.
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: May 22nd 2018
Genre(s): Comics, Science Fiction
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆
One thing I love about DC is how they don’t restrain themselves from expanding their universe in ways that you would never have conceived yourself. Their multiverse alone is brilliant, and this event is going to do something even better. Dark Days: The Road to Metal is a prelude to the latest cosmic event and it is an absolute tease for long-time comic book readers, and even more for the Batman fan base. This volume collects the two prelude chapters (The Forge and The Casting) and tosses in extra issues of important story arcs from past stories within the DC universe to help fans comprehend the references in this Metal event. The focus of this volume should however be limited to the two main stories that sets things up for Dark Nights: Metal.
In the form of a prologue, this two-issue story invites us to explore a world where dreams and nightmares become one. It all begins with a mystery surrounding a rare metal stained in a toxic scent of despair and chaos that even Batman fears to unravel. Having proceeded with caution, the Dark Knight has been investigating the source of this enigma with complete secrecy to this day. Time has come for him to spill the beans and go to great lengths to get the finals pieces of the puzzle. With the threat becoming imminent, Green Lantern and Duke Thomas also find themselves in front of some the biggest revelations of their lives. What they didn’t know is that they are about to explore a flood of pain and misery that will consume the world.
Besides both Dark Days: The Forge and Dark Days: The Casting, the volume also spoils fans with the key issues of some of DC’s biggest moments in their canon storyline, including the last issues of Final Crisis, the first issue of Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne, two key issues of Batman: Endgame as well as one issue of both Nightwing‘s and Detective Comics‘ Rebirth runs. Regarding the inclusion of these pieces of the puzzle, I believe there is three ways to appreciate them:
- You’re a longtime comic book reader who recognized all the references in The Forge and The Casting and see these other stories as a reminder of past events;
- You’re a new comic book reader who only caught some or none of the references and see these extra spoiler issues as a guide to what you should check out before jumping into the main event to come;
- You’re a longtime comic book reader or a newcomer who only caught some or none of the references and see the rest of the volume as a complete mess that gives no fluidity to the reader and ruins any possibility of enjoyment regarding what’s collected here.
Personally, it would’ve have been much better if readers had the whole story arc of each reference collected in a volume; but that would have made this collection too big and too expensive. Some of the included stories are definitely harder to understand without contextualization, and some don’t directly explain this prelude (Nightwing’s issue actually explains his facial scar that he carries throughout this event, but he doesn’t actually appear in this prelude, making it a bit confusing for readers), but they’re all great to explore. As a fan of reference-heavy stories, I found it refreshing to see how Scott Snyder tied everything together in order to create this new cosmic event. The conspiracy theory plotline caters a lot to hardcore fans, but newcomers can definitely find a lot to enjoy, given that they are patient and curious enough. The eeriness of this prologue, even if it’s incredibly short, is still what I loved the most about it all. Having something rooted deep in DC’s history and presenting us with something so complex even to the world’s greatest detective is what makes this so compelling to my eyes.
While Batman is at the core of this event, we still get Carter Hall, also known as Hawkman, narrating some important lore-building moments and teasing the epic scope of the chaos that looms in the background. The way this prelude story adds gravitas to the mystery that fascinates and frightens Batman is nothing short of staggering to me, and I think that is where the appeal to the event comes from for me. It is also worth mentioning that the artwork is wonderful, especially when it’s Jim Lee and Andy Kubert doing it. I wasn’t however a fan of John Romita Jr.’s artwork though (easily distinguishable from the others with his odd character designs; especially fan designs), but they all work towards assuring the bombastic and impressive overtone of this event.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!