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It's been a big year at DC Comics already, and it's only going to get bigger. Though the publisher is still planning its own virtual fan event later this year, some of DC's brightest talents still managed to make time for not one, but two Comic-Con@Home panels this weekend, and while much of the discussion was centered on stories we already know about, there was also a lot of chatter about what's next. Specifically, Dark Nights: Death Metal creators Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo were on-hand Saturday to talk about the upcoming chapters of the DC mega-event, and the next terrifying villain to crawl out of the Dark Multiverse and menace DC's heroes.
Dark Nights: Death Metal has re-organized the DC Universe and Earth under the malevolent rule of the Batman Who Laughs. There's already plenty of action just two issues in, as Wonder Woman and the rest of the DC heroes try to gain a foothold in their plan to fight back. For Snyder and Capullo, who are no strangers to over-the-top stories, it's all part of upping the ambition.
"I want this to be almost like the one where we leave it all on the stage. For us, we have a lot of things we want to do, to be frank, out in the world together as a team. Coming back to do a sequel for Metal, even though it was always in the plan, was kind of the big finale of our kind of over-the-top DC event kind of stuff. It's 10 times bigger, honestly, than Metal," Snyder said. "You're gonna have an army of Lobos and a whole evil Multiverse and all kinds of stuff popping out that you never expected to see. [In issue #3] itself, you meet the Robin King, that's a really big one. He kind of is born in issue two, but you see him for the first time in issue three, really interact with the heroes."
Pressed by Death Metal editor Marie Javins on what fans can expect from The Robin King, who grows out of the Batman Who Laughs' own dark metamorphosis in Death Metal #2, Snyder described a 10-year-old boy who is very sweet, earnest, and enthusiastic, but at the same time does things like taunt our heroes with a dead body he keeps stuffed in a Flash ring.
"What I want the heroes to go up against here is something that says 'Everything you believe us to be, people, everything you hope we are, we aren't,'" Snyder said. "And you [see that with] The Batman Who Laughs and with The Robin King. The eviler and darker the villain, the more the heroes are challenged by what they see in human nature, and so it becomes harder and harder to be hopeful. [The Robin King] is not evil just to make him something incredibly fun and dark and twisted. He is. He's those things, but it's meant to be something that you read and it hits you in a way that's poignant."
Over the course of Death Metal's remaining five issues — including numerous tie-ins and one-shots to flesh out the world of the Metalverse — Snyder and Capullo are going to be throwing a lot of new toys and a lot of references to DC Comics classics at readers. The story is set up specifically so that DC's heroes can revisit the biggest events that came before this one, but Snyder and Capullo are not just working to throw in references to DC continuity. It's the kind of story that's meant to please longtime fans and newcomers alike, and show that the whole history of the universe counts.
"We want it to feel connective, and we want the message to really resonate that way, where it's almost like every story matters, the whole history of the DCU matters," Snyder explained. "Everything's in play to say what do we stand for and what do we want to be going into 2021. It's a crescendo, and as much as it's bonkers and over-the-top and it's done in a way that really speaks to our priorities... it is also a love letter to the DCU and to you guys, and a way of saying thank you for all the love that you've shown us, but also the love you've shown these characters that mean so much to us."
Dark Nights: Death Metal #3 hits stores on Aug. 11. For more from DC's Saturday Comic-Con@Home panel, including a discussion of Joker War and a chat about DC Black Label titles like Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity, Wonder Woman: Dead Earth and the upcoming Batman: White Knight Presents Harley Quinn, check out the full video above.
Click here for SYFY WIRE's full coverage of Comic-Con@Home 2020.