Deadshirt is Reading: Dark Nights: Metal and Runaways!

Deadshirt is Reading… is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt’s staff, contributing writers, and friends-of-the-site offer their thoughts on Big Two cape titles, creator-owned books, webcomics and more.

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Max Robinson is reading…

Dark Nights: Metal #3

Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Greg Capullo
Inked by Jonathan Glapion
Colored by FCO Plascencia

“Jim! It’s been too long! Some hot flesh for the kids and a round of ‘Batmen’ on me! That’s a tall glass of ‘just ice’, right?”

We’re three issues into Metal and this installment finds us deep in the weeds of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s high-octane crossover event that pokes Bill Finger’s signature creation in the eye with the horns. The premise is simple: What if the regular DC Universe was invaded by a neighboring underrealm of evil Iron Maiden and Megadeth mascots? And what if those beings were all Batmen? And those Batmen work for an evil Bat-god that’s plagued the Earth for centuries? You can practically hear the wailing Ronnie James Dio each time the villainous Dark Knights appear to menace a seriously desperate Justice League, who split up to find various Nth metal objects that may be enough to take down The Batman Who Laughs, The Red Death, Murder Machine and company.

One of the best things you can say about Metal, besides how much unbridled fun it’s having, is that it moves at a good clip. Even with a heavy dose of exposition and tie-ins to side books like Gotham Resistance, it’s chugging along like a great white shark chugging Bud Lite and power-rocking a walkman. It’s a book that opens with Wonder Woman rescuing Superman from a horrifying tower of skeletons and trusts you to keep up until he’s trapped in another, different skeleton tower. Snyder even hinges a major plot point on a very familiar TV theme in a funhouse mirror spin on the scene in Final Crisis where Superman destroys Darkseid with a song. If the prior issues of Metal weren’t doing it for you this likely won’t change your tune but if you did dig them, this is bigger and louder and dumber in the best way. You’re either on board with Deathstroke the Terminator skewering a feral gremlin-like Robin in a magic bar outside space and time or you’re not.

There isn’t much to say about Capullo’s gorgeous pages here that I haven’t said in earlier Metal reviews but listen, this comic looks great. He and Snyder are totally in sync on the kind of story they’re laying down here and he nails bits like the aforementioned columns of skeletal wraiths, a scene of a Doomsday-powered Batman beating the snot out of Superman, or a big demonic finger exploding out of Bruce Wayne. Capullo cut his teeth on Spawn way back in the day and this feels like the best and truest use of his 90s horror comic background since he became a headliner at DC. Metal isn’t the best 2017 DC comic by any means but damn if it isn’t the biggest and boldest, a steaming gooey gas station burrito of trashy high concepts.

Kayleigh Hearn is reading…

Runaways #2

Written by Rainbow Rowell
Art by Kris Anka
Colored by Matt Wilson
Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna

“The time machine was stalled at Nico’s apartment. Fortunately, the Lyft driver didn’t mind all the blood.”

Runaways #1 was a dramatic return for the reluctant teen superheroes, thrusting Chase and Nico into a race against time (ha) to save a mortally wounded Gert pulled from the past. With Gert now alive and well, issue #2 slows down to take several breaths and tell her how the world has changed in the two years since her near-demise. This issue has the unenviable task of being an abbreviated Wikipedia article, with the characters standing around their new Hostel and summarizing the last ten years of their publication history (hey, remember Avengers Arena?). The exposition is a necessary evil, however, because it makes the case—one I’m sure many old school Runaways fans will agree with—that the team kind of went to shit after Gert died. “The Heart of the Team” is a trite role that Gert rejects, but she is the team’s conscience, or at least its cattle prod, forcing her teammates to remember who they are.

Rainbow Rowell delivers exposition rather smoothly, answering questions fans have been asking (“What happened to Klara?”) but also hitting the right emotional beats—if you’ve been wondering how the Runways reacted to Victor Mancha’s death all the way back in Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s Vision, now you know. Rowell also successfully taps into one of the underdeveloped aspects of comic book resurrections: the passage of time. Gert essentially wakes up two years in the future, as much a time-traveler as either of her parents. She died moments before telling Chase she loved him, but now she’s faced with a Chase Stein who is older and sadder than the boy she knew. Does she—can she—love him the same way? Kris Anka perfectly captures this dilemma in a two-page spread contrasting the two Chases who were the last, then first, things Gert ever saw. There’s a lifetime of pain and grief etched on the faces of those two boys who are only two years apart from one another, and Runaways is shaping up to be career-defining work from Anka. Even if the pace has slowed to let Gert (and really, anyone who dropped the series after she died) catch up, this is still the Runaways continuation I’ve waited years to read.

Thanks for reading about what we’re reading! We’ll be back next week with a slew of suggestions from across the comics spectrum. In the meantime, what are you reading? Tell us in the comments section, on Twitter or on our Facebook Page!

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