You’ve read Dark Nights: Metal #1, and you are fully on board, but there are many things in the issue that seem like they should make sense in the greater DCU, but are lost to you at the moment.
This week, we kick off Annotated Metal, where we’ll look at the characters and nods to the DC Universe and the pop culture references that make everything so… metal.
NOTE: You really need to read the issue before taking the jump. In fact, you probably want to have the issue on hand as you read our notes.
Batman Caveman – Having been cast back in time by Darkseid’s Omega Beams, Batman had to literally journey through time to get back to present-day Gotham City. The adventures of Batman as a caveman (and eventually the ultimate weapon), took place in Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne, written by Grant Morrison in 2010.
Total Justice – I’m going to call it regardless if it is true or not. Greg Capullo and Scott Snyder are making a nod to Total Justice on this page. You remember Total Justice from 1996, right? It was an attempt by DC Comics and Kenner to create a toy/comic book line that didn’t fully take off.
Darkseid was the big bad of the series, and it required the heroes to don Fractal Techgear to defend themselves. It was a mix of Martian science and Batman’s technology, and for some toy collectors, this was a fun line. Of course, Matthew tells me I’m reading too much into that image, but I know some of you were thinking the exact same thing.
Elseworlds Superman – Okay, how about a different take. While Mongul explains the technology is used to limit the heroes powers, the chest piece Superman wears reminds of of Superman: Kal – the Elseworlds title that told the tale of Kal-El landing in medieval England.
Mongul- Mongul has been a Superman villain for decades, first appearing in Adventures of Superman #454 in May, 1989. Mongul is the ruler of Warworld where aliens fight each other in gladiatorial combat.
Toyman – Another classic Superman villain, Toyman (aka Winslow Schott) first appeared in Action Comics #64 in September 1943. Though there have been many incarnations of the villain over the years the one appearing in this issue appears to be Hiro Okamura.
In his first appearance, Okamura was an ally to Superman and Batman, creating a giant Composite Batman-Superman robot to help destroy a kryptonite meteor heading to Earth. In The New 52, Okamura operated as the Toymaster, and was eventually kidnapped by Mongul. I have a feeling this is a tie-in to his last appearance.
Optimus Prime – Laugh if you want, but the Superman mech looks a lot like everyone’s favorite Transformer, Optimus Prime. Considering Toyman is the creator of these mechs, I can see him making the mechanized monster in that image.
I’ll Form The Head! – Multiple mechs joining together to form a giant warrior have been around since the early ’70s, so if you want this to be a nod to Voltron, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Super Sentai, or something else, you are right.
Challengers Mountain – Challengers Mountain is the home base of The Challengers of the Unknown. The base appeared – or rather disappeared in Dark Days: The Casting during Carter Hall’s experiment. Now we know where it went.
The Challengers of the Unknown – Though they don’t get called out by name, The Challengers of the Unknown have appeared in Dark Days: The Casting and again in this issue as travelers who have been somewhere very dark.
Created by Jack Kirby in 1975, The Challengers (Ace Morgan, Prof Haley, Rocky Davis, and Red Ryan) survived a plane crash and concluded they were living on borrowed time. They formed The Challengers to take on strange, nearly impossible jobs from just about everyone.
While they haven’t had a lot to do or say in their two appearances so far, expect them to take on all sorts of unknown challenges when Scott Snyder and Andy Kubert take on the New Challengers – a new series from DC Comics.
Red Tornado – I’m not not 100% sure, but I believe this is the first time we’ve seen Red Tornado in the Rebirth Universe. Red Tornado was created by scientist Dr. T.O. Morrow (see below), and first appeared in Justice League of America #64 (August, 1968) by Gardner Fox and Dick Dillin. If you get a chance check out the Young Justice animated series that has a fairly concise (albeit highly retconned) history of Red Tornado.
Originally, the Blackhawks (lead by a man simply known as Blackhawk) were a multi-national team of pilots who fight the Axis powers during World War II. Interestingly, Blackhawk is one of four characters to be continuously published in his own title from the 1940s through the 1960s. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are the other three in that group. Blackhawk first appeared in Military Comics #1 (August 1941) and was created by Chuck Cuidera, Bob Powell, and Will Eisner. Yes, THAT Will Eisner.
Lady Blackhawk – In 1959, Zinda Blake was introduced as part of the Blackhawks team, but really took off as a popular character when she made a time jump to present-day and became part of the Birds of Prey in 2004. This version of Lady Blackhawk is not Zinda Blake but rather…
Kendra Saunders (Hawkgirl) – HOLY CRAP, YOU GUYS! Yes, we’ve seen the Death of Hawkman, but we’ve seen nothing of Kendra until now. While she isn’t Shiera Sanders Hall, Hawkgirl has been a big part of the Justice League since her first appearance in 1999.
I hope we learn more about Kendra’s history going forward. It will be interesting if she is indeed the Saunders from the early 2000s and to learn what she has been doing.
It is also interesting that Hawkgirl is leading the Blackhawks…
A number of famous DC locations get name-checked on this page:
Blackhawk Island – I don’t know why there are dinosaurs on Blackhawk Island, but this is the island where the Blackhawks maintain their base. Originally, Blackhawk Island was located in the Atlantic Ocean, making it easy to launch strikes in Europe during World War II. Much later, the Blackhawks bought an island in the Pacific.
Dinosaur Island – Yes, it is an island of dinosaurs, first appearing in Star Spangled War Stories #90 in April 1960. If you are going to keep war stories alive, why not have soldiers take on living dinosaurs?
Dinosaur Island plays a big role in Darwyn Cooke’s DC: The New Frontier in 2004.
Themyscira – Home of the Amazons.
Skartaris – When Mike Grell created The Warlord series in 1975, it took place in Skartaris, a land deep inside the Earth. Think Journey to the Center of the Earth meets sword and sorcery. If you are wondering why the Hollow Earth Theory keeps popping up in everyday life, Skartaris could easily be one of the reasons why. The last time we saw Skartaris was in DC’s Convergence series.
Nanda Parabat – When it comes to magical lands in the DCU, Nanda Parabat has been able to hold its own for decades. First appearing in Strange Adventures #205 in October 1967, Nanda Parabat is the spiritual home base for Deadman. During DC’s 52, it is revealed that everyone from the Phantom Stranger to The Question (and Batman) have all made treks to the magical city to seek enlightenment and training in the mystical arts.
Nth Metal – Though it has been mentioned in Dark Days: The Forge #1 and Dark Days: The Casting #1, this is the first time Nth Metal is mentioned in this issue as a source of the Multiverses woes.
Among the unusual properties of Nth metal is the ability to negate gravity, allowing a person wearing an object made of Nth metal, such as a belt, to fly. In addition, Nth metal also protects the wearer from the elements and speeds the healing of wounds, increases their strength, and protects them from extremes in temperature. It has many other properties that have yet to be revealed in full. It has been implied that the apparently “magical” abilities of the Thanagarian supervillain, Onimar Synn, all stem from his unique mastery of the properties of Nth metal.
The walls on this page are covered with important characters including:
Original Blackhawks – Blackhawk and Lady Blackhawk (Zinda) are seen in this photo.
Starman Will Payton – Why yes, that is Starman Will Payton. Payton was the ’80s Starman created by Roger Starn and Tom Lyle (Starman #1, October 1988) . His powers of flight, super strength, shapeshifting, and the ability to shoot energy from his hands after being struck by a bolt of energy from a space satellite.
Dr. T.O. Morrow – The villain creator of Red Tornado. Thomas Oscar Morrow first appeared in The Flash #143 in March 1964.
Doc Magnus – First appearing in Showcase #37 in March 1962, Doc Magnus is the creator of the Metal Men.
Metal Men – Lead, Tin, Iron, Gold, Mercury and Platinum! Their adventures are almost as strange as The Challengers of the Unknown, but they have been popular enough to stick around and appear in most of the major DC events. The robotic team has also appeared a number of times on the Batman: The Brave and the Bold animated series.
The history of the Metal Men is long and involved, but some of the scariest villains in the DCU (Chemo for example) have come from their adventures. Again, check DC’s 52 for a great arc involving the team and their creator Doc Magnus.
Grant Morrison Multiverse Map – HELLS TO THE YEAH! I’ve been waiting a very long time for DC to finally do something with Grant Morrison’s The Multiversity, and the map of the Multiverse brings the entire outline for what DC Comics, Snyder, Capullo and the rest are planning.
IT’S ALL CONNECTED!
The Multiversity was a limited series that ran during DC’s The New 52 (2014-2015), where Morrison gave us a multiverse spanning crossover. It was supposed to launch a new franchise, but for a long time, nothing seemed to be happening with the ideas Morrison planted there.
Red Tornado – The more I read this issue, the more it feels like it has the scope of DC’s 52, but without the weekly deadlines. In that series, there was a great moment where Red Tornado activated and would only say “52” over and over again. His activation here feels like that same moment.
Walk the Dinosaur – Kudos to Greg Capullo for putting feathers on the Raptors (aka Death Chickens). Dinosaur fans around the world are thanking him for this more accurate take on the prehistoric creatures.
Plastic Man – This makes the third time the Plastic Man Egg has appeared in the Rebirth timeline, and I can’t wait to see what DC has in store with The Terrifics.
Steel – The head alone doesn’t reveal too much, but it looks like John Henry Irons, aka Steel.
Barbatos – The Return of Bruce Wayne also introduced modern readers to the concept that Batman’s prehistoric pals thought Bruce Wayne was the immortalized god Barbatos. Though the Barbatos “creature” followed Bruce Wayne, Barbatos was first introduced by Peter Milligan, Kieron Dwyer, Dennis Janke, and Andrienne Roy’s Dark Knight, Dark City in Batman #452-454. In that arc, Thomas Jefferson and pals summoned Barbathos who appeared to them as a giant bat.
When Jefferson refused to kill, the demon lay trapped in a cellar as Gotham grew over and around it. At the same time, Barbathos’ influenced the city, ultimately orchestrating the murder of the Waynes so Batman could be born. Yeah… really trippy stuff in that one.
It only gets weirder in Grant Morrison’s hand, as the writer changed the story to have the Hyper-Adapter (an created unleashed by Darkseid) travel back to 1764, where Thomas Wayne confronted Barbatos/Hyper-Adapter and “killed” it – feasting on the bat and becoming Doctor Simon Hurt – a major villain during Morrison’s Batman run.
Barbatos is a really complex idea that ties into the deep roots of the origin of Batman, and if you can track down the issues and series, it eventually makes sense. Barbatos was also a big part of Dark Days: The Casting #1.
Crisis on Infinite Earths Dimensional Turning Forks – Batman and Alfred mention the sound of tuning forks, and with the multiverse, that seems to indicate Snyder is referencing the Dimensional Tuning Forks used by the Anti-Monitor to destroy the Multiverse in 1986. It was revealed in Dark Days: The Forge #1 that Batman has one of these dimensional tuning forks locked away in the Fortress of Solitude.
Final Crisis – The third panel on the page is definitely referencing the Final Crisis event, but for the life of me, I can not think where this particular image comes from. If I were to make a guess, I would say it has something to do with Darkseid “killing” Batman with his Omega Beams.
Watchmen – The clock is your obligatory shoutout to Watchmen, the classic Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons tale from 1986. With Doctor Manhattan creating the Rebirth timeline, this nod could be yet another clue to how everything is connected and in continuity.
Daniel Hall – When Morpheus died in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, Daniel takes over as Dream of the Endless. Though Morpheus and Daniel are very different they are both Dream.
That’s a Wrap!
And that is where the issue ends. What did I miss? What did you pick up? Use the comment section below to share your thoughts and reactions to Dark Nights: Metal #1, and I’ll be back next time to break down the tid-bits being offered in the series.