The world forge has gone dark and it is time for all life to end.
Normally, at this point in a story arc that seems to only affect a few titles in a major comic universe, we’d be on our way back up. That’s part of the journey: heroes reach the “abyss,” their lowest point, and some ray of hope beams through the darkness, letting us know that everything will be okay in a few issues. Not Dark Nights: Metal. Nope. We have plunged down into the depths of despair and then just kept digging. I joked about this during the one-shot issues and how things just kept getting darker. It was great when there was an expected arc to follow. Now? One issue away from the finale? I just don’t know what might happen and I’m not sure that’s a good thing.
When we last left our heroes, everything was terrible. Everyone walked into traps everywhere in the multiverse, including Batman who, after saving Superman from Barbatos’ mega-battery, found himself 30 years aged and in the center of the world forge, confronted by the demon form of Hawkman. The book opens with an intriguing question as to which villain is truly in charge. Is it Barbatos or could The Batman Who Laughs be the one truly pulling the strings? At BWL’s urging, Barbatos begins the process of bringing his dark army forth to drag the universe into the dark forever. The world forge has gone dark and it is time for all life to end.
This is where things start to get better, right? Wonder Woman finds a way to reach through to Lady Blackhawk, Batman finds the words that seem to peel through the demonic layers of Hawkman. This is the dawning of the end where things may not ever go back to normal, but at least the world will be saved? Nope.
Subverting the predictable is, generally, a good thing. Keep the audience guessing and the story moving in new ways. But, when the story is so dark and so dire, what happens when hope goes out the window for the audience? Will this be another story wrapped up at the last minute with some deus ex machina that just leads into another in an unending line of world-shattering crises? I really dig what has been going on in the Metal line, but I’m afraid of the ending being a letdown. With really no other series even acknowledging that it is happening, how serious should we, as readers, take it? Is this an elseworlds kind of moment or should we take it as fact throughout the DC universe? I guess only time will tell.