Hey, I got sucked in. After promising myself not to try any more Death Metal issues after not being impressed by the first, I couldn’t resist last week’s Speed Metal. And I loved it. It’s a slippery slope, though, and having heard this issue might be leading to the next DC reboot, I hit that digital Buy button and downloaded…
… well, I didn’t hate it. The big bonus is that outside of a symbolic image, there’s no Batman Who Laughs in here. There is Perpetua, the Cosmic Goddess/Whatever who haunted so many issues of the Scott Snyder Justice League run. You know, the one that rambled on for a year and a half about ever more Important Omniversal Dangers that were rarely reflected in the rest of the DC line. The one with the Totality, and Seven Forces and Whatnot. Here’s how Multiverse’s End writer James Tynion IV sums it up, after Green Lantern John Stewart tells his captor, the Owlman of Earth 3, about Perpetua and her world-destroying shenanigans.
As they’d say on Airplane!, ‘but that’s not important right now’. And Tynion wrote some of those issues!
Ah well, it’s likely some people enjoyed that run a lot, and at least the cash I spent on it helped the economy.
So what is important in this comic?
The efforts of the last surviving heroes of the former Multiverse who make up Justice Incarnate to evacuate the populations of the surviving Earths.
Their plan to destroy, with the aid of Green Lantern Corps members from the Earth 0 universe, the massive tuning forks Perpetua is using to raze the current Multiverse so she can rebuild it in her own image.
Meanwhile, the heroes are feeling the strain. Poor old Captain Carrot, for one. He’s not made for the grim, reality-ending, continuity-bending blockbuster tales. He should be lampooning them with Pig Iron, Yankee Poodle and the rest of the Zoo Crew.
But boy, is he not the hero the people need? That was a Superman-level inspirational speech. And Captain Carrot fights on, helping Guy Gardner, putting his own pain on the backburner, because that’s what heroes do.
As it turns out, this special tie-in to Dark Metal doesn’t conclude anything, but as a DC Crisis comic, it’s pretty decent. Tynion addresses the elephant in the room that’s been around since the arrival of the Batman Who Laughs – doesn’t Batman already have a multiversal opposite? – and does interesting things.
Tynion gives us a fun bit of Guy Gardner business calling back to probably the most beloved scene in Justice League International history.
And we get a fascinating insight into how superheroes remember the Crises that come with alarming regularity.
That makes sense to me; one reality rewrite, I could see the heroes forgetting. But after about six or whatever, surely even the most rewritten mind will feel echoes.
And there’s a bit of a get-out for a couple of DC heroes whose characters changed overnight, causing all kinds of trouble (a similar whispered ‘get out of jail free’ card came in a recent Flash issue, with Reverse-Flash also revealed to be more Bad Idea Bears that Rogue).
I do have quibbles: surely Green Lantern energy can’t create a sun? John Stewart, heck, any actual human, would not use the work ‘unbeknownst’ in a sentence. But like I said, ‘quibbles’. Overall, Tynion does a great job with the over-the-top nonsense; even the death of a beloved DC team gave me just a second’s pause… they’ll get better by series end, if the heroes’ efforts – and crossed fingers – pay off as they should.
Refreshingly, the art isn’t the usual DC house style, the super glossy look we’ve had since the beginning of the New 52, nearly a decade ago. It’s by Juan Gedeon, whose work caught my eye recently – check out my review of his Teen Titans digital issue. His storytelling is clear, with plenty of dramatic poses that just escape being corny. The John/Owlman scenes pulse with drama, while Gedeon leans into the sheer oddity of the Perpetua design.
And I like that his Captain Carrot is classically cartoony, I hate when artists draw him to be ‘realistic’. He’s a human-sized, muscle-packed bunny, there’s nothing realistic to represent – what we wind up with when they make him hairy and gnarly is truly terrifying.
Gedeon employs a similarly light touch when it comes to presenting an evil chibi Batman – it’s a grandly stupid idea, so why fight the incongruity?
The vibrant colours of Mike Spicer – who worked with Baldeon on that Titans tale – help sell the intensity of proceedings. Rus Wooton looks to be hand lettering, in a style that reminds me of onetime DC letterer Bob Lappan, but according to an Image Comics fan page he works digitally. Shows what I know. Anyway, I spotted no typos, which is great – I do, though, dislke the uneven, scrappy-looking word balloon shapes – it sounds like a tiny thing, but it’s an artistic decision and one that slowed down my reading of the story, because I kept noticing the things. Talk about lead balloons.
The cover by illustrator Ian Bertram is George Perez-busy, which befits (I do NOT say ‘unbeknownst’) a Crisis story, with David Stewart’s colours helping the figures pop. There’s a real sense of energy, of eerie cosmic forces, that had me anticipating what was to come.
I didn’t have great expectations going into this issue, but I had a good time because the people involved are having a good time. If you read it too, I’d love to hear your thoughts.