DC's current multiverse-redefining event Dark Nights: Death Metal is heading toward its conclusion on Janaury 5, but one week before on December 29, the publisher will revisit the story's predecessor Dark Nights: Metal in a Tales From the Dark Multiverse one-shot that imagines a much more tragic ending for the vaunted crossover, which led directly to DC's current status quo.
In the one-shot, the evil Dark Multiverse dragon Barbatos seizes Element X before the DC heroes, who used the mysterious metal to defeat the villain in the original story. In the one-shot, that advantage for Barbatos leads to his victory, sealing the heroes' fate.
"In the event-defining epic Dark Nights: Metal, the Justice League defeated the vile Barbatos and his Dark Knights to save our universe from sinking into the abyss of the Dark Multiverse. But...what if they failed?" reads DC's official description of Tales From the Dark Multiverse: Dark Nights: Metal.
"What if Barbatos reigned victorious? Enter an alternate timeline where the DCU as you know it has been dragged down into the darkness," it continues. "Witness the Justice League you once knew, hideously transformed into dragons who serve at the mercy of evil.
"Duke Thomas, the Last Monitor, will have to seek out Nightwing and the few remaining survivors of the Metal event to assemble the Final Justice League in an attempt to save the Multiverse," it concludes. "Featuring a story by Metal architect Scott Snyder, rising stars Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing, and art by red-hot artist Karl Mostert, you won't want to miss the biggest, loudest arena rock concert in the history of the DC Universe!"
Here's a gallery of pages from Tales From the Dark Multiverse: Dark Nights: Metal #1.
"This is the OG original event remastered, reframed, and totally rebuilt as a Dark Multiverse story," co-writer Jackson Lanzing tells Newsarama.
"The idea being that for fans of the original Metal, if you wanted to go back and revisit that event and see what might've happened if instead of the heroes pulling together at the end with the Element X armor to beat back Barbatos, the bat dragon," he continues.
"What if instead, Barbatos was one step ahead? Use that armor to corrupt the Justice League, turn them into 80-foot-tall dragons of Barbatos' own design, and then use them to conquer the multiverse."
"Our story is once that happened, once the end has come, what does it mean to be a hero? What does it mean to be one of the last people left in that world?"
Tales of the Dark Multiverse has shown warped perspectives on some of the best DC stories ever.