Written by Scott Snyder
Pencils by Greg Capullo
Inks by Jonathan Glapion
Colors by FCO Plascencia
Cover by Capullo, Glapion and Plascencia
SPOILER WARNING: Usually our reviews are relatively spoiler free, allowing you to read and enjoy the issue. While this issue is still readable and enjoyable after reading this review, it may contain more spoilers than our normal content
Previously: The Dark Knights have invaded! Seven evil versions of Bruce Wayne from the Dark Multiverse, each one representing a member of the Justice League, are led by Barbatos to conquer the Earth. The scattered heroes of Earth have broken into teams to search for Nth Metal weapons to use against the Dark Knights, and were met with varying degrees of success. Meanwhile, Batman and Superman escaped from their psychic prisons in the Dark Multiverse and went to the Forge of Worlds, only to find it guarded by a Barbatos-controlled Hawkman!
The penultimate issue of Metal opens with The Batman Who Laughs discussing the evil plan with his lord Barbatos. Barbatos is worried that Superman has stopped charging their tower, but The Man Who Laughs reassures him that the time has come for Barbatos to wail. He declares that endings and beginnings start with great noise, and that noise is a scream, and that scream shall be Bartbaos’ to summon their dark army and invade The Multiverse. Meanwhile, Batman and Superman are trying to hold their own against the enhanced Carter Hall, who is now the Dragon of Barbatos. Superman begs Batman to retreat, but Batman is determined that the rest of the League will not stop fighting, and the two stand their ground until they finally fail and sink into the lava of The Forge at the end of the issue.
Elsewhere in the Universe, the different teams are still trying to obtain Nth Metal gear to use against the Dark Knights. Aquaman and Deathstroke emerge from the portal below Atlantis into a cave at the center of the Earth. They are able to survive because there is a large Atlantean machine that is somehow containing the magma at the Earth’s core. The machine looks strange to Aquaman, as if it was made in collaboration with a culture other than Atlantis. Deathstroke verifies that the machine is made with Nth Metal, and Aquaman assures him that he can operate it. They manage to turn it on, and very slowly a drop of molten Nth Metal drips out of the machine. Before the two can find a way to transport or make use of this, they are attacked by Black Manta, who has made a pact with Barbatos in exchange for an entire Earth covered in ocean. Three of the Dark Knights arrive to back him up as Aquaman defiantly squares off for a fight he knows he will lose.
On Thanagar Prime, Green Lantern and Mr. Terrific have been imprisoned by the new dictator Onimar Synn and his ally Starro. Starro’s psychic attacks prevent Hal from using his ring to free them from their prison, but they are freed by a guard who reveals himself to be The Martian Manhunter in disguise. He tells them he’s exploring similar questions concerning Nth Metal, and agrees to take Hal and Michael to find the Plastic Egg. They handily defeat Starro on their way to the throne room, where Onimar Synn hands over the Plastic Egg. They decide to use the Phoenix Cannon that is on Thanagar Prime to brighten the Nth Metal at the core of Earth in order to help raise it out of the Dark Multiverse. Before they have the opportunity to find out if it works, they are ambushed by three more of the Dark Knights!
Wonder Woman is at the Rock of Eternity, and is fighting off Black Adam as well as a Barbatos-enhances Kendra Saunders, currently using the name Lady Blackhawk. She pleads with Kendra to fight the control of Barbatos and help her find Hawkman’s Mace, but Kendra just continues to tell Diana that the mace cannot be found here. As the fight continues, Diana finds a crack in the wall and busts through it to find the mace she came here searching for, using it to knock out Black Adam. She is suddenly attacked from behind by The Batman Who Laughs, who knocks her down and begins to taunt her, telling her that all hope is lost and it’s time to give up. Wonder Woman defies him, confident that the rest of The Justice League will continue to fight until the day is saved. He takes the mace and leaves her to fight Lady Blackhawk as the world sinks into the Dark Mutliverse. Diana wraps her golden Lasso of Truth around her knuckles and punches Kendra right in the face, bringing back the true identity of Kendra. She wakes of and apologizes, then quickly rallies herself to fight by Diana’s side. The two make their way back to Earth only to find it full of nightmare versions of the Justice League. Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl leap into the fray, declaring that the noise at the end will not be a scream, but a war cry!
Thoughts on the issue: The epic tale of Metal is soon coming to a close, and the stakes are getting higher as the situation gets more bleake. For a moment this issue looks like it might have a victory for the heroes, but the hopes are all squashed one by one as they are ambushed by the Dark Knights and the World’s Finest sink into magic lava as old men. That doesn’t mean that the issue doesn’t have some fun ass-kicking moments, especially the scene where Wonder Woman punches Lady Blackhawk in the face with Golden Perfect Knuckles. That was the “Metal Moment” of the issue, and it sure delivered. This was the fifth consecutive issue that ended with the villains on top, and going into the final issue I’m beginning to worry that the ending is going to be rushed and overly convenient. And one last thing: One issue left and we have seen almost none of the New Age of Heroes characters that are supposed to be “From the pages of Metal.”