Note: the review below contains spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdicts.
Dark Nights: Death Metal: Last Stories of the DC Universe #1
Writer: Joshua Williamson, James Tynion IV, Scott Snyder, Jeff Lemire, Mariko Tamaki, Gail Simone, Christopher Sebela, Cecil Castellucci, and Mark Waid
Artist: Travis Moore, Rafael Albuquerque, Daniel Sampere, Meghan Hetrick, Christopher Mooneyham, Mirka Andolfo, and Francis Manapul
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain, Ivan Plascencia, Adriano Lucas, Marissa Louise, Enrica Eren Angiolini, and Andrew Dalhouse
Letterer: Deron Bennett, Steve Wands, Saida Temofonte, Travis Lanham, Dave Sharpe, and Josh Reed
Cover: Tula Lotay and Dee Cunniffe
The Rebirth era of the DC Universe is coming to an end, as we barrel towards the resolution of Dark Nights: Death Metal. Between what changes it will make to the DC Universe and whatever comes out on the other side of Future State, it’s safe to say that we’re about to enter a new era. As such, The Last Stories of the DC Universe one-shot serves as a quiet goodbye to these versions of our heroes, in a still moment before the coming action.
The Rebirth era was one that was sold to fans on hope, and in the beginning, it seemed to deliver. Wally West was back, a thing fans had clamored for for years. Superman and Lois were married again, with a kid! The characters felt more like they had before the New 52. It seemed like a wonderful new era for the DC Universe, and I bought into it hook, line, and sinker. But that hopeful optimism didn’t last nearly as long as I’d have liked. A darkness started seeping back into the cracks in the foundation of a universe built on flash promises. While things that DC fans had wanted were seemingly coming to fruition, the leadership that had blown up those things in the first place was still in charge.
The original Metal series brought us the Batman Who Laughs, who literally and figuratively infected the universe with his bleak darkness. Heroes in Crisis turned Wally West into a murderer and had him cover it up, a thing so out of character it was disgusting. Jon Kent was spontaneously aged up. The DC Universe we were promised with Rebirth evaporated, leaving behind a series of empty promises. If I’m honest, the past year or so of DC has been pretty barren in regards to things that I actively like on a regular basis. Which means I’m actually excited that this era is coming to a close. We have new leadership at DC, and from the announcements of books coming after Future State, new talent is getting big shots at key franchises. But before we get there, we have some goodbyes to say.
The Last Stories of the DC Universe is a book filled with the same fan service that the Rebirth era was built out of, but you know what? I fell for it then, and I’m still a sucker for it now. Specifically, the Titans story that bookends the issue hits me where I sleep. I’m an absolute mark for the Teen Titans in just about all of their incarnations, but especially that founding five. Seeing Dick, Donna and Garth forgive Wally was a balm for my soul, for which I’ll even forgive stupid zombie Roy. Also the two page spread with all the eras of Titans (ARGENT!!!!!!) was aimed right at me and I don’t even care that I’m such an easy mark.
Lemire’s Green Lantern story was about what we expected. Hal sad about his dad and dealing with Sinestro. Probably about as good of a story as we can expect out of Hal Jordan. Tamaki‘s Wonder Woman was hopeful and foreboding at the same time. Sebela’s Aquaman felt like the story that pushed furthest beyond Death Metal and into Future State. Even a die-hard Nightwing and Starfire shipper like myself got a little misty during Cecil Castellucci and Mirka Andolfo’s Batgirl and Nightwing story. And Mark Waid‘s Superman story allowed him to, just one time, overcome his biggest weakness: of not being able to do enough. Plus it gave us a fantastic Kara and Clark hug.
But the story that came second only to the Titans bookend was Gail Simone returning to Black Canary (and I guess Green Arrow too). A wonderfully romantic story that ends on a “what could be to come” cliffhanger, we’re also introduced to Dinah and Ollie’s daughter from one of the destroyed Earths. Her parents are gone, but she wants to fight alongside this version of them, for the fate of all remaining worlds.
In all, if this is the end of the Rebirth era, it feels like The Last Stories of the DC Universe leaves it much the same as Rebirth introduced it, with a hopeful eye at what’s to come. I just hope the next era leaves me with less empty promises.
Endless Winter on the other hand just feels like unnecessary filler to get us through December. Truly it’s the Seasonal Depression of comics.
Nobody really needed a Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Flashpoint. Wasn’t the point of that universe that it was already bad?
Batman: Black and White has a stellar list of creators including Emma Rios, but I’m really looking forward to next issue with David Aja and Sophie Campbell.
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