Spoilers ahead for Dark Nights: Death Metal #6.
Scott Snyder aligns the many disparate threads of the DC Universe into one with Dark Nights: Death Metal #6 (opens in new tab), the penultimate chapter of his and Greg Capullo's epic crisis to end all crises. With the stakes ratcheted up beyond the heavens, the final battle commences. And while this is the issue that coalesces the entire DC Multiverse into one long lifeline, there's a sense that Death Metal has already shown us all it will ever have to offer.
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Greg Capullo, Jonathon Glapion, and FCO Plascencia
Lettering by John Napolitano
Published by DC
'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10
Snyder elaborates on the themes that have been coalescing during this event, bringing together everything that has ever occurred under one universe. That phrase repeats itself across the issue, cementing Snyder's intentions for the DC Universe going forward. And even though the implications are massive, Snyder's simply hammering issue #5's statement of intent into reality. Again we're left wondering if there's enough meat on these bones for seven issues.
The actual battle on Earth underwhelms. Monsters are cut apart without much in the way of drama, despite the constant affirmations from the cast that this is indeed the fight of their lives. Like the last issue, there's a whole bunch of weird thrown in to the melting pot here for the sake of it. The original body of the Batman Who Laughs is revived with a Black Lantern ring. The concept is intriguing, but it just fills up a panel here without consequence. Alongside Batman's current zombie status, another little thread to be paid off at Death Metal's conclusion?
At the beginning of the issue, the jokes flow fast and freely, briefly twisting the tone into parody. Tonally, Death Metal has flirted with self-deprecation throughout. Every plot point stacks atop another like a Jenga tower, threatening to topple over in a cloud of laughs. Gods die. Universes collapse into each other. Lex Luthor stares longingly at the back of Superman's head while saying 'God, I wish I still had my hair.; It threatens to destabilize the whole thing, but Snyder wisely cuts the quips as the battle begins.
As is standard for Death Metal, it's Wonder Woman's job to do the heavy lifting. Her realization of how to create Luthor's remembrance machine is genuinely moving and its accompanying 'One Universe' moment is as fist-pump eliciting as it should be. Snyder is excellent at these broad, feel-good moments, and these are some of the best of the event so far.
Visually, the battle between The One Who Laughs and Perpetua makes a serious impact. FCO Plascencia colors Capullo's whirling dreamscape of rubble and nightmares in neon purples and blues that pop right off the page. Colors aside, Capullo's composition balances Snyder's weighty script and high character count for maximum readability. Jonathon Glapion's detail-oriented inking brings out the best in Capullo's pencils, finely highlighting every little fragment of grime. Finishing things off, Napolitano's lettering is as characterful as ever – signifying true evil with jet black balloons and icy white letters.
Snyder and Capullo seem intent on turning up the dials until the whole machine breaks. This is excess in its simplest form, a creative team unrestrained and seemingly unburdened by editorial. It isn't elegant and it isn't clever, but it sure is fun. And yet, six issues in and it feels like Death Metal has run out of steam. Death Metal #6 inherits the problems of Death Metal #5, offering little more than a few laughs and a victory lap of this admittedly pleasing 'One Universe' concept. If you're still reading, you're in it until the end. Let's hope the climax pays off.