The fourth issue of DC's Dark Nights: Metal hits stands on Wednesday, and we're taking another long-view look back at what's happened, what's going down now, and what are some of the more important panels that have significance in future issues. We spoke with the brainchild of Metal, Scott Snyder, on camera and off, to break down Metal's mystery, and what's still left to come. First we're going to take a look at some important pages and panels from Dark Days Forge, Metal #1-3, and then we'll discuss the events of Metal #4.
Beware, as there are LOTS of SPOILERS about the first four issues and Dark Nights one-shots ahead.
1. The Forge, Page 7
Snyder's notes: BATMAN saves a scientist from a remote undersea base, at which point AQUAMAN appears and questions Bruce about what exactly he was studying down there in the depths. In Metal issue 4, we'll learn that the secrets of Nth Metal have more to do with Atlantis' history -- and ARTHUR'S future -- than he ever knew...
SYFY WIRE: Readers probably glanced over this scene as benign at first, but there was something big here, the potential Nth Metal that's buried under Atlantis, and what Batman is hiding from Arthur.
Scott Snyder: Before we began Metal, we had this huge summit and made this crazy design on the board where we blocked out all of the places that Nth Metal would be hidden: Why they were hidden there? What the secret history was as to how they got there? Has it been used by any characters who found these repositories of this magical substance? We really wanted make sure it wasn't just moving the pieces around the chess board in some superficial way, but instead have this event be about how frightening it can be to explore the mysteries of both your own psychology, but also the world itself. So we wanted a mystery and a story that was potent for each character who went after these repositories of Nth Metal, to find something else about their own mythology, that surprises them and scares them.
We find out that Batman has a secret room in the fortress of solitude, was this something you felt he would naturally do, or was this a reactionary precaution he did as a result of his fears?
SS: He was looking into this mystery of whether there was a real place called the Dark Multiverse, whether any of it pointed to him, or what it was that Carter Hall discovered. Was it all a trap? Was it just something that was set up by his villains to lure him and his friends in, so it gets sprung on him that it's something he needs to talk to them about? We didn't want to do a story where he keeps everything to himself and is really detrimental. Here he was just figuring out if there was any real substance, when it all explodes on him.
2. Metal #2, Page 2
Snyder's Notes: At the start of METAL #2, Carter Hall gives a brief history of the start of the DC Multiverse. Well in METAL 4, we learn that the tale he told is only half the story, and that the creation myth of the entire DCU is something much more shocking...
3. Metal #2, Page 16
Snyder's Notes: Dream leads Batman to what seems like the ancient tomb of Carter Hall; Dream tells Batman he can guide him no further. When Batman pleads with him to stay, Dream tells him -- call to me in the place of the BLACK SUN. Well, all we can say is get ready to see what Dream meant very soon...
4. Metal #2, Page 14
Snyder's Notes: KENDRA SAUNDERS ventures into a strange headquarters, where a group of Immortals charge her with completing a plan to blow up the Dark Multiverse. In the coming issue of Metal, Kendra must make a terrible choice whether or not to fire the Anti-Monitor's cosmic brain through the Rock of Eternity (yes I just wrote that) and destroy everything that lies below the Multiverse, including Batman, Superman, and Carter Hall himself. (Also, look for some of those Immortals to play a big role in this issue...)
5. Metal #3, Pages 13-20 : The Oblivion Bar
There's a lot being thrown at the reader in these pages, as the Oblivion Bar is a unique spot in the DC Universe.
SS: The Oblivion Bar is one of those places that haven't been used in awhile, it's a magical place, this intersection of different forces and energy, and we wanted to show you that no place was safe from the Dark Nights, and no character is safe from them at all. Instead, wherever you think you can hide, find refuge, that's where they'll find you. This gathers up every character and every aspect of the DCU and puts it in play.
What about the Nightmaster, is he someone we should be paying more attention to?
SS: Yeah, a lot of the stuff that happens in the Oblivion Bar and with the magical characters is going to wind up playing out in a series that I can't reveal what it is yet, but we're going to roll a bunch of series out of Metal, so once it is over, come Spring 2018, DC has a lot of great plans for some of the characters that have been a big part of the Metal, but may not have their own book. But there are hints at the story elements that are in there, new discoveries about the multiverse and certain characters' mythos. At the end of Metal, you're going to see a lot of story engines fired up. To spin forward, so yeah, there are plans for Nightmaster, Detective Chimp, and a bunch of characters that you see in that issue.
6. The Batman Who Laughs, Pages 17-18
Snyder's Notes: The Batman Who Laughs is talking to a mysterious, bandaged figure... prepare to learn more about who that might be in the coming pages... And prepare to be shocked.
Is this person who is bandaged up a major player in Metal, or someone who's going to factor into the stories that come after?
SS: It's a big reveal. It is a character that is in current continuity that will definitely be a fun surprise. The Batman Who Laughs has been the breakout, with people already doing cosplay and artists who have been inspired to draw him or make custom toys. It's a huge thrill. We definitely have plans for the Dark Nights, but I don't want to spoil which ones are going to die or go back to the Dark Multiverse, but you'll see a lot of stories roll out.
*WARNING* From here on, we break down major plot points in Metal #4 so don't read any further until you've read the issue.
Metal #4 is the big Dream issue we've been waiting for, where Batman, Superman, and Dream have a lengthy scene.
SS: Greg (Capullo) and I talked about it beforehand and one of the things we wanted to do with Metal was if we we're ever going to do an event, was to go as (Jack) Kirby as possible and play with it, explore, expand the deepest folklore and mythology of the DCU. Here what Dream explains is the origins of the Monitor, the Anti-Montior and the DC Universe itself, and how the Dark Multiverse plays into its creation -- so it was a ton of fun to develop new mythological figures like the World Forge, who you may see later, as well, and new storylines that are about the birth of these pair of DC universes (Multiverse and Dark Multiverse) all at once. We wanted something that merited Dream's involvement, we wanted to make sure it was big and deep enough, universe-shaking enough for him that he would come out the Dreaming to talk about consequences. So this is the scene we've been dying to do since the very beginning, to show what the story is about, and also how his role is key to it.
Starro makes his appearance on Thanagar; talk about their inclusion and the role they play in the bigger picture.
SS: We wanted to do an adventure that traveled to the most distant corners so you have characters traveling to the center of the Earth, characters traveling to the edge of the DC Universe, to the World Forge, Atlantis, through the Dark Multiverse, and the most hidden planets like Thanagar Prime, which is a story element that's going to be picked up after Metal, as well. We wanted to give you that sense of grand space opera, that Flash Gordon feel where there's this whole culture you don't know, and if you're trapped in the middle of nowhere with these crazy cosmic figures, and lean into that bonkers over-the-top space soap opera, but also make sure it was emotional. It was tons of fun to bring in a character like Starro, who's over-the-top, but at the same time have their dilemma be really emotional. It plays out in a big way in the next issue, too, which will have the return of another character that I think people will be really excited about.
You've managed to keep Barbatos behind the curtain, as you've had characters speak for him or about him, can you share more about your take?
SS: Some figures are cut from whole cloth and are brand new like the Dark Nights, the Dark Multiverse -- there are concepts that we wanted to make our own or make from scratch. One of the other joys was to take characters who haven't been around in a while, or at least in a prominent way, and doing our own versions of them. Barbatos is a figure that appeared in a story that I love called "Dark Night, Dark City" by Peter Milligan, who re-appeared in Grant Morrison's stuff in a different way. We wanted to take him from those stories and do our version of him, and raise him up in a different way.
At the end of Metal #4, we see Kendra and Carter emerge out of the fire and reveal themselves as Hawkman and Hawkgirl.
SS: They've always been central to the DNA of the story and plot-wise it's been about Batman picking up on a mystery that the two of them have been a part of for generations. This is the part that their emotional conflict, their mythology, their mission, relationship with each other, their love comes to the front of the story. Everything becomes jeopardized and they become very prominent figures from here on out. What happens to them plays out in stories after Metal too. So it's great to move them to center stage and moving them forward.
Is there any other moment in Metal #4 that we shouldn't overlook?
SS: There's a bunch! Some of the stuff that Dream mentions about the library burning plays out in a really big way, the stuff that characters are discovering on their missions, the whole mystery around why Atlantis has this strange machine at the core of the Earth that uses Nth Metal. Why is this strange weapon -- the Phoenix Cannon -- is on Thanagar, and what it's really being used for? There are elements in this one that set up everything that's coming to a head in issues #5 and #6, and on top of that, will generate stories after Metal. I love this issue, [laughs] I'm really excited to see what people think. Metal was exciting from the word go, but it was intensely intimidating to do something with these characters, this scope.
I adore that first issue, with Batman riding a dinosaur, Justice League Voltron, [laughs] and baby Darkseid, but in some ways I was always trying to justify doing it, and make sure that everyone felt like they were in on the fun, just trying to make it as inclusive, and as big as possible. Now that it's up and running and people have responded, we can just go even further and let loose. These issues, 4, 5, and 6 are easily my favorites of the whole thing.
If you want to hear more of Scott Snyder's Metal overview, check out our exclusive extended Behind the Panel interview with him below!