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Location: Lancashire
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 39,041
Subj: Dark Nights:Metal #1 - Story Without Reason...
Posted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 at 05:54:56 pm EDT (Viewed 397 times)

It's August 2017, and as Marvel Comics suffers increasing criticisms over the content and reception of their 'Secret Empire' summer event DC Comics' own latest entry into the cycle of portentious sprawling storytelling is.... well, Dark Nights:Metal.

Does this name-title mean anything to you?

I'd venture no. That neither pre-publicity or the publisher seem clear on what 'Metal' is actually about, what purpose it serves, is almost certainly a reflection on the strength of the material itself. From the opening page and through to the next several pages alone Scott Snyder's Dark Nights:Metal makes for such a bewildering and alienating reading experience that I sincerely doubt anyone reading it could make much of any sense of it.
Did nobody involved in bringing this to print not notice, not proofread the pages and judge its suitability for a mass audience? Or is this book to be taken as proof that todays editorial pay so little real attention to such things that they see their jobs more as point-men and agents rather than guides who's job is to steer their creative team to produce material that is to the standard worthy of a mass audience? I can only take the conviction that it has to be the case of the former, not the latter, as expecting anyone to make sense of the first half of 'Metal' and what, and why, it is happening is simply not going to happen.

Sometimes in comicbooks the problem with creator driven storytelling is that the writer is so engaged and hyped about his own unfolding material that he/she loses sight of the bigger scope, of checking to make sure the plot is making sense, of making sure that the opening chapters are able to be understood. And as one opens and begins reading Dark Nights:Metal there is the sense that while the potential for something interesting and engaging is present there the problem is this opening material is first draft fare, and not the finished result of conferences with an editor and wisdom duly advised. Consider the first page of this book - a five panel arrangement of progressive horizontal shots of a clearly sunbaked mid-noon desert. '50'000BC' states the caption on the first panel, as a well illustrated lizard is caught in mid close-up "Huff Huff"-ing its way across the sands - of what significance is this panting? As the spectacle progresses below into panel #2 we move to an overhead shot as the reptile gamely continues its huffing progress and crosses a marked set of three circular motifs someone has drawn into the sand, ominous narration relates to us there is a story about three lost tribes of antiquity and the inference is that these three motifs someone has marked out are representative of these tribes, and by panel four in the sequence a figure with Batman-style silhouette has cast his shadow over the trio of markings as the narration has told of a fourth tribe appearing, leaving the final panel then showing the marks covered in a massive spattering of blood.... why? Who? what does it mean?! As an opening page the significance is mystifying, it tells us nothing at all of what is about to unfold other than this is the dawn of the age of Metal. ??? It's mystifying.
But turn the page to the second and mystery gives way to instant confusion and what might almost be vertigo as without scene shift nor a reason we have a half page shot of what seem like the members of the Justice League, clad in very strange makeshift armour and mail mimicing their standard costumes. We appear to have shifted to some alternate dimension. Or is this some grotesque parody parade of the seated alien Mongul? Where are we exactly...?! How are we here? There is nothing whatsoever to inform us. And even as the page unfolds the picture as to what we are seeing becomes no easier to divine as with clumsy scripting Batman mumbles some cryptic mention of something called Braalians supposedly holding Mongul after he was defeated by General Zod and... and...

Look, enough. If you've read this book you more than likely know full well what it is I am frothing about. And if you haven't read this book, then consider your decision a wise one.
There is almost nothing in Scott Snyder's story and scripting that makes even the slightest provision for anyone reading it. No concessions for those out there not fully immersed in the detailing and semi-obscure lore of DC continuity. Neither does Greg Capullo show any interest or awareness in his own responsibility to design pages that would help ease the reader along - scene-shifting establishing shots are woefully lacking in information to inform the reader where they have arrived, or what the situation on the opening panel might be. Even as we watch the strangely attired Justice League react to what we gradually piece together is a gladitorial ring the placing of it is wholly baffling, a well considered shot might have given us some vital clue that we are out in space somewhere, but even by the end of the lunacy unfolding we may well be still on earth somewhere. The point is never clarified.But then virtually nothing makes sense here, there is someone called Toyman, who he might be and the what, how and why of it all is anyone's guess. As the sequence ends and the League....

No no no. Enough. I can spend another hundred words,and plod onwards in whinging at how inpenetrable Scott Snyder's storytelling is with this new series, but what is the point. It has been an exceptionally poor last year for these event driven books, it was a poor year last year, and by this point the fact that the commercial drive and pressure to put out such series' has brought us to a point where the necessary thought, planning, and care that is required to make the policy sustainable and worthwhile has finally run out of any desire or ambition to even try to do it. To produce work that is worth the effort, and worth the time of an ever pressured and cheated audience.

With even the slightest glance at the profoundly meaningless main cover from Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion the standard and problems with this book can be found displayed, there on what should be THE selling point to any book what can be gleaned from any random passerby or potential purchaser browsing on the net?
A book with a name that means nothing. A dreary and utterly uninformative cover logo and byline. And a design from Capullo which is so enormously uninspiring and unskilled in design effort it might well be tountamount to some first effort from a college first year warming up before tackling the real work at hand... consider that this cover is meant to be the books chief promotional tool and one can recognise that for all the undoubted talent that has been assigned to this series that talent is utterly worthless in practice as it has clearly had no proper stewardship or guidance from the staff who commissioned the project and surely hope to see it a successful venture...