Spoilers ahead for Dark Nights: Death Metal #1.
Dark Nights: Death Metal #1 delivered on its promise to make "everything matter," crediting all the DC reboots to a new concept called "crisis energy." And now that the Batman Who Laughs is ruling over a twisted version of the Earth, the only way to save the universe is to harness this energy to create an "Anti-Crisis."
Writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo also deliver a couple surprise heroes who may hold the key to saving the DCU — Wally West and Lobo.
Wally is still wearing the blue-colored costume from the ending of Flash Forward — where he’d apparently harnessed the power of Dr. Manhattan. His role so far is to explain what happened to make the world into the twisted version depicted in Death Metal.
According to Wally, Death Metal #1 is actually taking place after the giant battle hinted about at the end of Snyder's Justice League #39 from January — when the heroes ran into a blue-colored portal that seemed to provide their only hope for making "every life matter."
Now, the heroes need to harness crisis energy to create an "Anti-Crisis," and Lobo is on his way to … well, it’s not clear what Lobo is doing, but it’s apparently the “key to everything."
So how did we get to this point? Let’s take a look at spoilers for Dark Nights: Death Metal #1 to find out.
It’s a new world
A map at the beginning of the issue outlines some of the lands in this new world: Arkham Wastelands, The Hellscape, Megapokolips, and the Castle Bat rising over it all.
Batman Who Laughs is ruling over this world with help from an army of nasty Batmen from throughout the Dark Multiverse. One of them shows up in the first few pages — B. Rex, the T-Rex version of Batman whose origin is connected to the giant dinosaur in the Batcave.
Familiar DC characters have new roles in this world, like Harley Quinn as the "hunter of the Wastelands," Aquaman as commander of the Black Fleet, and Wonder Woman and a Burning Swamp Thing ruling over the Hellscape (formerly Themyscira).
Diana versus Bruce
After an introduction by Sgt. Rock to the fight that’s coming in Death Metal, the issue begins in the Hellscape, with Diana forced to be in charge and imprisoning some people there (including the Joker) to "save" them from what’s happening on the surface.
Diana is summoned to a meeting with Batman Who Laughs, where he tells her and the other remaining DC characters that Perpetua has destroyed Earth-22, which leaves only eight worlds left in the Multiverse. Once they are destroyed, Perpetua can remake the DCU.
But the ever-resourceful Batman has set up a psychic link, and he tells Diana about using her Invisible Jet against the Batman Who Laughs.
As they argue telepathically, Batman uses a Black Lantern ring to raise Batman characters from the dead. The Bat-corpses attack Batman Who Laughs and his followers, and Bruce tells Diana that they must fight this way - one small battle at a time.
In other words, Bruce wants to make the best of the world now and win it back.
Diana isn’t having it, though. She wants things back the way they were. And she believes one of her prisoners (who just arrived) holds the key.
The prisoner is Wally West, and Diana risks her life to get to him.
Prisoner Wally West
According to Wally, the DCU has "no memory" (and reboots every once in a while) because Perpetua has been stoking "crisis energy" - even when she was imprisoned in the Source Wall.
What is crisis energy? Well, Wally says that all power in the DCU gathers around two poles - a connective energy and its opposing "crisis" energy. "Crisis energy looks to shatter connections and make only one moment important," Wally claims.
Although Perpetua was imprisoned in the Source Wall by "her kind," she was able to still influence the DCU via "whispers." That apparently influenced the various “crises” that happened in DC history.
Then Wally reveals that, when the DC heroes ran into the blue energy field at the end of Justice League #39, they had been given the connective energy of Dr. Manhattan. They used it to fight Perpetua, who was harnessing all crisis energy.
"What happened in the clash, I don’t know," Wally says, "only that it exhausted both forces in a blast so powerful it burned out the sun."
The only reason Perpetua is still so powerful is because of the Batman Who Laughs, Wally explains. The Batman Who Laughs provided Perpetua a conduit to the Dark Multiverse, where the greatest crises are "forever happening, as long as we remember them."
As long as there are people alive who remember them, the energy remains. (And that’s why the heroes have been kept alive.)
The conversation between Diana and Wally is interrupted by the Batman Who Laughs, but Diana is ready to kill him.
And apparently does.
That's right - Batman Who Laughs is dead in the first issue of Death Metal (or at least Snyder and Capullo want us to believe that).
However, the death of the Batman Who Laughs doesn’t mean the heroes have won. His minions initiate his "true plan" - to unleash the "final Bruce Wayne," who looks like a Batman-type version of Dr. Manhattan.
So… will this version of Batman harness the Dr. Manhattan-type connective energy? And will the heroes succeed in Wonder Woman’s plan to harness the crisis energy?
But wait, there was one more scene that seems to be important …
Here comes Lobo
In deep space, on Ossex - the planet made of living bone - Lobo is using his compass to find a spot on which to dig.
He uses his giant axe to tear into the dirt beneath him. And he finds something round-shaped.
"Well well," he says knowingly.
A radio voice says to him, "Well? Did you find it? It’s the key to everything, dammit. Talk to me!"
Lobo answers, "Oh, I found it all right. And now … it’s time for the main man to liven up this joint."
Death Metal continues July 14 with Dark Nights: Death Metal #2.