When DC's blockbuster summer event was announced, fans knew something big was on the way - and finally, METAL has arrived. The event has already started with the twist-filled one-shots The Forge and The Casting, but the sudden dive into years of DC mythology - not to mention the reveal of the evil Batman doppelgangers invading our world - is guaranteed to leave some readers confused. Since METAL is built on understanding the one mystery Batman shouldn't have solved, writer Scott Snyder has thankfully laid out the exact plot details that fans need to know... while teasing the secret of the DC Multiverse that's going to change everything.
The fireworks and feast of "dinosaurs and laser guns" promised by Snyder and artist Greg Capullo have yet to arrive, as they turn the DC Universe and Justice League into cosmic fantasy fit for death metal album covers. That's all set to being once the first official issue of Dark Nights: METAL event arrives on August 16th. But with The Casting and The Forge, the mystery of the event has been laid bare by Snyder and writer James Tynion IV - before casual fans are able to make sense of it.
If you're one of those roped in by the promise of a fun, energetic, and wild ride that won't force superheroes to wage war on eachother, but left utterly baffled by the METAL story so far, we're here to help. SPOILERS ahead for The Forge and The Casting, where necessary.
Welcome To The Dark Multiverse
These first chapters are integral to understanding what actually happens once the action kicks off, beginning in the journals of Hawkman Carter Hall, chronicling the origins of it all thousands of years in the past. He's after the same mystery Batman's chasing in the present day, but Bruce's mission to "pierce the veil" between the DC Universe and the mysterious source of Earth's magical metals goes terribly awry. His attempt is foiled, giving the first glimpse of the nightmare Batmen inspired by the Justice League, finally ready to attack.
During a press event at San Diego Comic-Con, Snyder laid out the reality Bruce and his allies can't yet understand. Fans may know of the DC Multiverse - fifty-two parallels worlds that heroes have, and continue to hop between when threats require it - but the Dark Multiverse is another story:
"We know about the Multiverse: 52 Universes, it's our whole cosmology. And just like scientists recently discovered that there's dark matter, dark energy, and it comprises a majority of our universe and we're unable to perceive it, this idea was almost like, 'Well, what if the same holds true for the DCU? And there's this roiling, volatile, oceanic, subconscious realm to the DCU that we don't know and is completely unexplored?'
Snyder compared the Multiverse fans have already seen to the "consciousness" of the DC reality, with its dark counterpart reflecting the unformed, primal subconscious. And if it sounds like it's blurring the line between the real and the metaphysical, that seems to be part of the "fantasy" of METAL. Snyder explicitly refers to the nightmare Batmen of the Dark Multiverse as representing some of Batman's worst fears made real. They're not the only thing Batman needs to worry about, either. According to Snyder, the door Bruce Wayne opened is what sets the stage for METAL - and why the event's title is literally the only thing that matters:
"So the story is really simple. The Justice League discovers the Dark Multiverse. They also discover that because of something Batman did it's invading right now after thousands of years of waiting. And if they don't find more Nth Metal - which is one of the rarest things in the universe - to stop it, they're completely screwed.
Metal Flows Through The DC Universe
The central threat originating millennia in the past is just the tip of the iceberg. Hawkman and Hawkgirl's story is going even farther back to the origins of mankind, long before their typical origin story saw gifts of Nth Metal wings and reincarnation. But retconning for the sake of action doesn't seem like Snyder's style. Instead, Snyder reiterates that the entire story stemmed from a question he and Capullo began to ask during their acclaimed run on Batman in the New 52.
In short, 'What if the metal that crashed to Earth and gave Hawkman wings... and the metal that was forged into Aquaman's trident... and Wonder Woman's bracers... was all part of some larger secret?' A message sent from an ancient ally to combat forces this universe had never known, using technology and magic humanity would need to rely on to protect themselves... should those forces ever break through into our world. That story will reach through just about every corner of the DC Universe that comic fans have ever loved, and while the secret to survival lies in DC's metal, Snyder promises a ride through just about everything else, too:
"A mystery that would come through metals, and these things that exist at the far end of the Periodic Table... and connect all of these strange DCU elements: Nth Metal, Radium, all of this stuff that we don't really know how it works, we created this whole mythology.
"If you read Batman #51 again, the last one that [Snyder & Capullo] did, there is a ton of terms and clues that all lead to this. So this is essentially the culmination of everything we did on Batman, but the fun of it is that we get to use the entire sandbox. Everybody from Plastic Man all the way to Doctor Fate. We go from Skartaris to the Source Wall, to the Dark Multiverse. It's an incredibly fun tour of the entire DCU from House of Mystery, Cain and Abel, Shazam... we're all over the place."
How Snyder intends to keep the story "really simple" while incorporating such disparate stories and locations throughout DC's history is what makes METAL so intriguing. Fans of the Snyder/Capullo run of Batman are in for a shock, having assumed that the Dionesium/Lazarus Pit/Immortal Joker theories were as wild as they would be getting with changes to DC's mythology. It turns out that was all an appetizer for METAL - and we doubt fans will leave disappointed.
Dark Days: METAL #1 will arrive on August 16, 2017.