Review: Dark Nights: Metal: The Resistance trade paperback (DC Comics)

July 8, 2018

 ·  2 comments

I still appreciate Dark Nights: Metal's restraint; when you consider Blackest Night had seven hardcovers, three for Metal is downright austere. Still I did note in my review of the tie-in Dark Knights Rising a little sense of crossover-itis; surely some of what was in that book was good and necessary for the telling of the overall Metal story, but not all of it. That holds true for Dark Nights: Metal: The Resistance, too; some parts are stronger than others, and some parts seem worthwhile storytelling (even aside from the crossover tie-in) and some seem entirely unnecessary, representative of the kind of excesses we keep wishing crossover events would avoid. And though the lower cost is nice, making this the sole paperback of the four is a questionable choice.

[Review contains spoilers]

Most of the good in Resistance is found in the "Gotham Resistance" story, a four-part crossover between Teen Titans, Green Arrow, Nightwing, and Suicide Squad. These are titles that haven't had a lot of interplay, especially in the New 52 and Rebirth eras, and among the best parts is that this really does read like a crossover -- Green Arrow gets to buddy up with Nightwing, the Titans and the Suicide Squad face off, and so on.

There's a capable group of writers on this story -- Benjamin Percy, Tim Seeley, and Rob Williams -- and even more so, a trio of artists doing great work outside DC's norm -- Mirka Andolfo, Stjepan Sejic, and Juan Ferreyra (plus Paul Pelletier, who's always welcome). Sejic's and Ferreyra's painterly, fantasy-inspired art especially sells it when all the heroes dress up in medieval garb, and the general aesthetic helps to transcend the mundane "Batman's rogues each get their own kingdoms" storyline to create something more special. I also appreciate a number of references to Metal-related events in these individual titles (mainly Nightwing and Green Arrow), making these title-specific and not just incidental stories.

The same can't be said for the "Bats Out of Hell" Justice League-focused crossover (with Flash and Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps). A Justice League sub-story seems like a good idea in this largely League-focused event, but so inconsequential is this one that the characters are pulled out of and then put back into the same parts of Metal such that this story really never needed to have taken place at all. And no small part of this we already saw in Dark Nights: Metal: Dark Knights Rising, including Flash versus Red Death, Green Lantern versus Dawnbreaker (though Robert Venditti writes in a cool strobe effect), and Aquaman versus the Drowned.

As well, writer Joshua Williamson makes a lot of hay about Cyborg Vic Stone being in pain, believing his team has lost, and wanting to give up, overdoing it on the angst for my tastes. It's not totally clear whether, in the midst of being the Batman Who Laugh's prisoner, Vic also talks to his Mother Box or if it's a trick; it seems true, but then it's a big can of worms that the Mother Box also tries to kill him on top of the nightmare Batman. Furthermore, that Cyborg emerges as "Cyborg One Million" sounds cool, but there's no explanation for how that happens or what that means, either. And maybe I'm a stick in the mud but I just can't warm to the sweet, empathetic Raven who embraces Cyborg or shies away from a leadership role -- more self-doubting and less capable than Marv Wolfman's strong, reserved original -- similar to how I felt about this new take on the character in the "Wild Hunt" story (collected in Rising) that this leads into.

Resistance also includes the Batman: Lost and Hawkman: Found specials, both of which read as gratuitous to me. Read in its right place in Metal, Batman: Lost might be the lesser of two evils, a meta-take on storytelling featuring parallel alternate Batman realities. It's Grant Morrison-esque, which is fun and goes to some of the aesthetic of Metal, but then again, at this point Morrison-esque alternate reality takes start to feel too familiar, too. I don't mind a recap of Bruce Wayne's encounters with Barbatos and any book that works in the Hyper-Adapter is all right with me, but I didn't necessarily feel this offered something I didn't get from Metal proper.

A book by Jeff Lemire and Bryan Hitch ought be a winner, but Hawkman: Found that ends this book is Metal's biggest disappointment and unfortunately the last part of Metal for me to read. Given the impact of Carter Hall on Metal in absentia, I was really looking forward to some insight into him in Found, some explanation of where Carter's been or how or in what way he's been Hawkman in Rebirth, etc. Instead, this is a fairly abstract story, ostensibly even just a hallucination, in which Carter battles Thanagarians amidst a bevy of past lives until he's inevitably taken down by Barbatos -- since, of course, this special can't actually conflict with or contradict Metal itself. Undoubtedly Lemire was limited in what he was allowed to do here; this is another one of those, found in every crossover, where title and hype were stronger than the execution.

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Dark Nights: Metal: The Resistance

So out of ten issues, I think Dark Nights: Metal: The Resistance is good for about four. If, like me, you were going to have all the issues of Teen Titans, Suicide Squad, Flash, and the rest in your collection anyway, then this was an inevitability, and it is enjoyable when seven of my regular trade titles are all focused on the same thing for a month. But "Gotham Resistance" is stronger than "Bats Out of Hell," and this is the collection where I felt Metal really started to show some of its excesses.

[Includes original and variant covers]

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Dark Nights: Metal: The Resistance
Author Rating
3.5 (scale of 1 to 5)

Comments ( 2 )

  1. Reading Batman: Lost as Metal 3.5 (I think that's where it fit in publication order) helps a bit. I'm holding out for a Metal collection in which The Forge, The Casting, Metal 1-6, Batman: Lost, and The Wild Hunt are all together (with nothing else) - probably an absolute edition?

    I think both the latter half of this collection and the Dark Knights Rising collection would have been improved if they'd jumped in earlier with the nightmare versions of other heroes - had the JLA been fighting their own nightmares instead of Batman's, there would have been some real emotional stakes to the story (Hal Jordan's worst fear becoming manifest seems like a relevant Green Lantern story). I also think they could have given us fewer evil Batman one shots and gotten at least one good Wonder Woman one (their appearance towards the end of Metal were pretty enticing), one good Superman story, etc. It wouldn't surprise me if this concept gets revisited, but it's probably the difference between fine tie-ins and a spectacular event overall.

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  2. This event just has me really excited and I will be getting all the tpb's. I like that it references a lot of stuff from earlier runs and doesn't just live in its own world. And like you said, there are not that many tie ins. DC didn't go completely crazy with it, which is nice.

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