How did a famed Neil Gaiman character end up in DC Comics' Dark Nights: Metal?

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Lucas Siegel
Aug 16, 2017

Spoilers ahead for Dark Nights: Metal #1

Dark Nights: Metal finally officially debuted today, after a few months of build-up and prelude titles. The response from fans has been huge, and the event comic from DC Comics, which reveals a Dark Multiverse underneath the main DC multiverse, looks to be a hit.

That's in no small part to Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, the superstar creative team whose run on Batman was a near-universally praised highlight of the New 52 era of DC publishing. Of course, they got a little help from a friend -- Neil Gaiman -- in the form of a favor.

At the end of the issue, there's a surprise guest who comes to visit Batman: Dream of the Endless. Created by Neil Gaiman for the Sandman series that became the first Vertigo title, Dream, aka Morpheus, dealt with a few DC Comics characters in his initial run, but eventually wound up outside the main DCU. Now he's back, with an ominous warning that "this nightmare has only just begun."

Chatting with EW, Snyder said he was surprised by how willing Gaiman was to allow Dream into the summer crossover epic.

"I started approaching the idea of pitching to Neil, who I’ve been lucky to meet a few times and hang out with over the course of my time at DC, the possibility of Dream appearing in the story. I worked myself up to it," Snyder said. "Even though we’re friendly, to ask that of him was hugely intimidating. I braced myself and then wrote this very long tearful email that I did like three drafts of, explaining what Dream’s role would be, why it matters, and how it figured into the story. I also asked for any questions or points of discussion; I was prepared for this back-and-forth, or for him to just say no. Instead, he wrote back and said, 'I love it, go for it.' That was the whole exchange. I was like, 'Are you serious? Just to be clear, this is how I’m going to use him.' He was like, 'Oh no, go ahead.'"

Snyder said that since this realm is one of nightmares, Dream will play into the story perfectly, as a guide, and perhaps even an ally in Batman's quest. And of course, "it never gets old."

"You don't even know -- when I got the okay from Neil, I called like every friend at DC just being like, 'I think I'm gonna pass out.' Dream is interacting with Bruce, Clark, and Diana and having this connectivity and this sense of overlap in the DCU."

That's not the only interconnectivity in the first issue, as it also touches on Grant Morrison's Multiversity and Final Crisis, and even Geoff Johns' Darkseid War. As for Dream, Snyder says "there isn't a more important role in the story than his" as the "guide and messenger from the Dreaming, [warning] the characters about what's coming," while also teasing a more "active role once everything sort of goes to hell."

Dark Nights: Metal is in stores now!