Open your pouches and throw on a bullet belt because Death Metal's going Exxxtreme! But the creative team of this three-part anthology aren't just here to gaze with misty-eyed fondness at the '90s, oh no. Dark Nights: Death Metal - Infinite Hour Exxxtreme #1 finally turns attention on Lex and Lobo's quest to find the Death Metal boxes introduced right at the end of Death Metal #3. A trio of foul-mouthed hijinks stand between Lobo and control of that precious metal, and as expected from an anthology title, there are mixed results. Thanks to the final third's hilarious script and visuals from a legendary creative duo, Dark Nights: Death Metal - Infinite Hour Exxxtreme #1 is a case of leaving the best for last.
Written by Frank Tieri, Becky Cloonan, and Sam Humphries
Art by Tyler Kirkham, Arif Prianto, Rags Morales, Andrew Dalhouse, Denys Cowan, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Chris Sotomayor
Lettering by Dave Sharpe and Rob Leigh
Published by DC
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
First up is 'The Batman Who Frags,' a gore-slicked tale that sets the stage for Lobo to seek out the Death Metal boxes while putting him up against his Dark Multiverse Bat-alike. Writer Frank Tieri is an absolute quip machine for these 16 pages ("What the frag is this now?" says Lobo as he comes face to face with his alternate Bat-self. "Frazetta Batman?"), balancing joke after joke with some important exposition. It's a little strange that Death Metal itself has been something of a tiny subplot so far in the grand scheme of the event, although that can't be pinned on Tieri. Tyler Kirkham pencils and inks in a style that favors Lobo's bulging muscles, skulls, and severed arms, while colorist Arif Prianto busts out some vivid alien gore to accentuate the standard orange and blue that otherwise dominates these pages.
Becky Cloonan and Rags Morales are up next with 'What the frag is a Death Metal anyway?!' Morales has a tough time cramming all the action in Cloonan's kinetic script onto the page, as Lobo battle an Evil Batman Solomon Grundy and forges an uneasy alliance with Hawkman for control of a piece of Death Metal. This isn't Morales' best work, and he sometimes feels a little constrained by his own panel layouts – with characters forced into cramped spaces that do a disservice to his otherwise stellar pencils. Script-wise, this is a standard action short. It's fun enough, and brightly colored by Andrew Dalhouse, but it's far from the issue's highlight.
'Lobo Land!' brings this one-shot to a chaotic close, finally revealing exactly what Death Metal does in classic Lobo style. Opening with a series of quick-fire one-pagers showing the Lobofied origins of DC's biggest heroes, Lobo quickly finds that he can use the Death Metal to remake reality to his design. The plot ramifications for the wider event are obviously huge, although writer Sam Humphries can only really use it for comedy here. Still, if his brand of funny is your thing, this is prime Lobo. Art-wise, living legends Denys Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz break out their signature blend of grisly characters and scratchy inks as the Batman Who Frags closes in on Lobo and falls foul of his new abilities.
Dark Nights: Death Metal - Infinite Hour Exxxtreme #1 is yet another meaty Death Metal one-shot. This anthology isn't as essential as issues like Trinity Crisis have been, although it does elaborate on one very important element of the Metal mythos. Humphries, Cowan, and Sienkiewicz offer the visual and narrative highpoint, although the entire issue is enjoyable. There's more than a sensible chuckle to be had here, with Kirkham, Cowan and Sienkiewicz. A must-have for the Lobo lovers, and another solid one-shot for the Death Metal saga.