WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Dark Nights: METAL #1
The masterminds of DC's Dark Nights: METAL event promised some high-octane, ludicrous thrills, and the newly released previews of the first issue don't disappoint. Thanks to a previously released image showing the heroes of the Justice League clad in gladiator armor, fans knew that METAL wouldn't be a purely Batman-focused story (although Bruce Wayne is the heart of METAL). But any readers worried that the scene suggested a dark, grim, or brutal adventure can rest easy.
Thanks to a preview of METAL #1 from CBR, the first pages of the issue can be placed into a proper context. Before long the likes of Batman, Superman, Flash, Wonder Woman and more will be forced to deal with a DC Universe sprawling mystery of metal, not to mention battling evil versions of Batman from the Dark Multiverse. But for now, the heroes are enjoying the thrills of assembling inside a giant, robotic suit of gladiator savagery.
METAL is already living up to its name.
The Justice League Turn Gladiators
As teased in the image mentioned above, the Justice League heroes begin their story transported into a gladiator arena at Mongul's bidding. How the team wound up under the villain's thrall, and armored in technology meant to render their powers useless isn't revealed just yet. But as the heroes soon learn, Mongul has tailored more than just their shackles to their exact powers. He's concoted an arsenal of robotic gladiators designed to get the better of every one of the Leaguers. Creatures that, as the preview pages reveal, were constructed by the classic villain known as the Toyman.
It's hard to know if fans should look too closely at this villainous pairing concocted by writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo, or enjoy the unlikely combination. Fortunately for the heroes, Toyman isn't as evil or bent on the destruction of the League as Mongul. If there's a weakness built into the machines, it's obviously going to be Batman who finds it. Toyman didn't stop there, though - he gave the Justice League a chance to turn the fight in their favor.
The reveal is built up over the first several pages, and it's one fans will want to see developed for themselves. But to those not averse to spoilers, it's safe to say that the Power Rangers may have to watch their backs, now that the Justice League has mastered the art of assembling standalone robots into one massive mech warrior (with help from Toyman, obviously).
The Justice League Mech is BORN
Every member of DC's executive leadership has shared their excitement for METAL for the past several months, promising DC superhero blockbuster action and spectacle, built with its foundations in fun and thrills... not tense, oppressive plots that pit one hero against another. Fans may not have expected that standard to be hit within the first dozen pages of METAL #1, but that's the kind of surprise you're bound to get when assembling Justice League heroes into the limbs, torso, and head of a massive Mongul Megazord. Sadly, the preview stops short as the assembled bot is revealed - meaning Mongul's fate is up in the air.
That may be for the best, with fans kept in the dark longer than usual. We still don't quite know how or why the League has fallen into Mongul's grasp, if it is connected to the METAL mystery Batman has uncovered, or simply a James Bond-esque opening number to show fans what to expect. If it's the latter, then Snyder and Capullo have already won skeptics to their side. The energetic, bold visual style and stretching of believability became the pair's hallmarks on Batman in the New 52, so if it worked for one hero, why not DC's biggest team? Biggest in terms of popularity and literal size, thanks to their Toyman-made mega-gladiator. However, we doubt that one's making the trip back to Earth.
Along with the teased first battle comes a new selection of variant covers headed to select retailers when Dark Nights: METAL #1 hits store and digital shelves on Wednesday. Regardless of the artist, style, colors, or characters, the message is clear: the Justice League is about to have one truly epic summer... and the fans are welcome to come alone for the ride.
Dark Knight: METAL #1 releases this Wednesday, August 16th.