Now that Scott Snyder is finally able to talk about the release of Dark Nights: Death Metal, he says the book is even more relevant in the current crisis than it was before.
Working with his Batman artist and frequent collaborator Greg Capullo, Snyder first came up with the idea for the Death Metal limited series when he was pitching the pair’s 2017 event series Dark Nights: Metal.
But now that the series is finally launching on June 16 - after delays caused by the coronavirus shutdown - Snyder has realized that the themes in the book are even more relevant than before.
As Snyder describes it, Death Metal is dark, but “as dark as the world is that the heroes find themselves in, the point of the story is hopeful and fun.”
“It’s meant to say, we’re all in it together,” he said. “The only way through it is together.”
And for readers who might be questioning the continuity of DC after all the company’s changes in recent years, Snyder says the motto of the entire series is that everything “matters.”
Newsarama talked to Snyder to find out more about the book’s evolution, how it has become more relevant than he realized, and what readers can expect when Death Metal finally hits comic book stores in June.
Newsarama: Scott, does this feel like a long time coming? Getting to finally release Death Metal to the world, particularly after this latest delay?
Scott Snyder: Yeah! We’ve been planning it for three-plus years, easily. When I pitched the first Metal, I pitched this idea as well. I literally pitched the basic bones of this concept when I pitched Metal.
So I said that if Metal goes well, what we’d love to do is build toward another thing that ties up all threads in a bigger way, that addresses where some of the ideas in the first Metal came from, that ties into really classic DC history from Crisis on Infinite Earths to Infinite Crisis and Final Crisis - all the big, cataclysmic events in DC history.
Luckily, fans like the first Metal, and we’ve been building toward this one ever since, hoping that we’d get a chance to do it.
The landscape has changed quite a bit over the last year or two, at DC and in the market. But in one way, it wound up just making the event bigger, and I think this better - it gave us more time, it gave us more real estate and we have more things we’re going to be creating for it.
Nrama: So the story evolved since that pitch, when Metal first came out?
Snyder: Well, I finalized it, in terms of the kind of story I wanted to do, back … two New Yorks ago [New York Comic Con] - that’s when we started talking, with the document.
So for us, it’s always been a culmination of this era. I think the target changed a bit at different times, in terms of when it was going to come out, because of different DC plans.
But it’s really, actually been freed up. This is more of the story I always wanted to do with Greg and [inker] John [Glapion] and [colorist] FCO [Plascencia] than before.
Nrama: Does it pick up on themes from Metal, or does this really tie in more with the stories and themes of your Justice League run?
Snyder: It’s all of it.
You can read it completely blind, though. I want to make that super clear.
It’s definitely built on things we did in Justice League, and things from Justice League Dark, Batman/Superman, The Flash and it builds on things from the first Metal and from Doomsday Clock.
It not only builds on things you would expect, that had a big impact on the DCU, but also things that we think should have had a bigger impact than they did.
And we’re building something that makes it all make sense - a gigantic, epic crescendo to this era of DC comics that says “everything you read matters.” That’s the Post-It on my computer right now.
We divided the book into chapters, and the first chapter is called, “How it all matters.” It’s actually a line from Wonder Woman, where she says “Oh, it all matters.”
That’s the motto of the whole series.
Nrama: We talked recently about how this story seems to reflect some of the fears and concerns that people are having right now. Do you feel like the story resonates with you in a different way now?
Snyder: Yeah, it’s always resonated with me and the team, but I think it’s taken on a different level of importance to us to tell right now, and a different level of emergency.
It was always about the DCU suddenly finding itself in a moment of tremendous darkness. The thing that really hit us, as we were writing it, was not how dark it is - it was always going to be dark. And it’s got a lot of humor in it, just so you know. Just like the first Metal, it’s meant to be a bit of a riot, in a crazy way.
But what struck us was how reflective the story felt of how we all were experiencing the world right now.
So it became doubly urgent to do it right, and important to do it right. So everybody re-committed to it, on the team and at DC, to make sure that we had enough room, enough tie-ins, enough support, enough pages in each issue. The first issue’s oversized.
We wanted to make sure we told the story well, in all of its richness.
It’s about this moment. It’s about why, in times of tremendous darkness - in sudden darkness like this - our heroes matter more than ever.
Nrama: Let’s talk about some of the story specifics. We saw the set-up for Death Metal at the end of Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen, as the Batman Who Laughs is helping Perpetua after getting her to throw Lex Luthor aside. Can you describe where the Earth is when, as you describe it, the DCU is in "tremendous darkness"?
Snyder: Yeah, we saw at the end of Hell Arisen that Perpetua chose the Batman Who Laughs instead of Lex Luthor. Now the Batman Who Laughs has risen to almost god-like proportions, ruling over the Earth, with dozens and dozens of evil Batmen.
And so she’s given him the Earth to reign over as she destroys the Multiverse.
The heroes almost can’t remember almost exactly what happened to make this new normal for them. But they’ve been living in it for months.
Wonder Woman has been assigned to Queen of Hell. Aquaman is the leader of the Black Fleet and patrols the oceans. Harley runs the wasteland on a giant, mutant hyena. And the heroes are kept in a prison inside the sun. And the villains are kept in Themyscira in what’s now considered Hell, beneath the surface.
Everybody is watched over by the new Dark Knights, this whole army of evil Batmen. And the Batman Who Laughs is ruling this world.
Nrama: Yeah, OK, that does start off in a dark place.
Snyder: It does. But above all, what I want people to take away from this is that, as dark as the world is that the heroes find themselves in, the point of the story is hopeful and fun.
Nrama: Fun and humorous and kind of over-the-top, like you and Greg did during Dark Nights: Metal, right?
Snyder: Yes, definitely - it’s even more fun, to me, than the first one. It’s definitely wilder and out there.
But it’s not just fun and over-the-top. Overall, it’s meant to say, we’re all in it together. The only way through it is together.
That kind of connection, when you find each other and you fight through together, is meant to be something celebratory.
Plus it has even more surprises than Metal did. And far bigger consequences to the DCU.
Nrama: From the introductory scene you told me about with Sgt. Rock to the characters who are showing up in previews and on the covers, it looks like you’re using all the toys for this one.
Snyder: Yeah, everybody’s in this one - from Jonah Hex to Superboy Prime. You know what I mean? Parallax. There’s not a major figure in the DCU that you won’t see.