[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artists: Paul Pelletier, Andrew Hennessy, Adriano Lucas
Nightwing and a rabble of allies band together and take to the newly-formed snowy peaks of Challengers Mountain in Gotham City, as Dick continues to chase the strange floating orb through the arctic wasteland in search of the missing Batman. Meanwhile at the Riddler’s Labyrinth, the Teen Titans form ranks with the Suicide Squad in taking down a monolithic monstrosity spawned from the Dark Multiverse.
Harley Quinn throwing out Dungeons & Dragons references after an ice giant takedown felt very appropriate for this George R. R. Martin-esque issue. I mean, all of Harley’s lines are good in this issue, from her humour to a small kind gesture, she basically steals the attention of whatever panel she’s involved in, Damien Wayne and the rest be damned. The Game of Thrones homage is pretty tight throughout the issue, from Stjepan Sejic’s cover boasting a Jon Snow-y Nightwing to Mr. Freeze’s White Walker re-design, all while remaining firmly in the Dark Nights: Metal narrative.
This issue weaves a lot of the previous staples of the series into its dialogue and its plot, with artifacts of Nightwing’s history with the Court of Owls reappearing and lots of references to Dick and Damien’s run-in with Dr. Hurt, with included reappearing magic scar – so a little Harry Potter thrown in with the Song of Ice and Fire homage. In fact, the overall tone of the issue fits with the kind of surreal hopelessness both of those fantasy writers have utilized in their work.
Nightwing is internally monologuing about his clouded judgement, his self-doubt and his paranoia. He talks constantly about following an unlit path alone into doom, and his failing search for Batman is fueling Damien’s intermittent rage fits. Actually, that last part is just the moody adolescent assassin clone that we’ve all come to love and adore trying and failing to appropriately deal with the emotional baggage that comes with losing your test-tube Bat-Daddy.
Compared to the swarm of Dark Robins however, Damien is (almost) a little angel. This horrifying murder of bat-eared, Joker’s grin-wearing flying monkeys are really quite disturbing to look at, they really sum up the insidious and brutal nature of the Dark Multiverse to me; where anything symbolic of hope or goodness is warped into a fanged, pupiless and near-rabid depravity that can replicate itself onto its foes. It is a beautifully grotesque concept and the artwork dedicated to it is really creepy, and gorgeous.
I’m not entirely convinced El Diablo couldn’t have done something more *volatile* to deal with a swarm of airborne enemies, but I accept that that wouldn’t have helped move the plot forward. I just like it when Diablo burns stuff.
Dark and fantastical, this issue of Nightwing will appeal to all the fans who crave a little more Westeros influence in their comic books. The Dark Nights: Metal story welcomes some beautiful and grotesque artwork for some incredibly intriguing enemies that blur the lines for the heroes and villains of the DC multiverse. The weight of the tension of the story, of Dick and Damien’s relationship and their search for their father, adds a very real and moving dramatic element that shines through the arctic battle sequences and maintains throughout Dick’s deep and thoughtful inner monologues.