Heroes & Villains – Dark Nights: Dark Metal Arrives + Memories of Denny O’Neil

This is going to be a difficult column to write. Not because I’m talking about anything heavy in this installment, I did enough of that last time…I’m just really, really tired.

H&V was absent last week while I attended to matters of personal importance. I know it may come to a shock to those reading but freelance comics column writers have lives outside of freelance comics column writing. I also write about toys. Please read the Figure Friday column so that it will get popular enough for toy companies to send me free toys. You know…for review.

Comics!

Dark Nights Dark Metal

Dark Nights: Death Metal #1
Scott Snyder (W)
Greg Capullo (A)
DC Comics

What a relief this book is…A big, shiny, summer EVENT comic that is a welcome escape from the world for a few minutes.

Dark Nights: Death Metal #1 is the comics equivalent of a summer blockbuster which is great since none of us can go to movie theatres at the moment. So far, the book seems most concerned with having fun and harkens back to events of yesteryear where the premise always started with “Wouldn’t it be cool IF….”

It has a chromium cover for godssakes.

Without getting into too many spoilery details, Death Metal is jam-packed with cool moments that are worth the $4.99 cover price. If you weren’t already sold on the Batman T-Rex that was released as some of the preview pages, the book backs that up and then some. I’ll admit that I wasn’t fully on board with this title since I didn’t care much for the previous outing Dark Nights: Metal and after a promising first issue I’m already thinking ahead to the forthcoming Flash-centric Dark Nights: Speed Metal and what other Metal puns they could work into the DCU.

Curiously, the opening pages of the book bill it as an “Anti-Crisis” and that “IT ALL MATTERS” which is a fun jab at DC having dined out on the Crisis nameplate for something like the last 35 years. In fairness, we got that ONE Crisis back in the ’80s and then waited until the new millennium before they started having Crises fortnightly.

It’s also interesting that they’re making a point of everything “mattering” in this event comic. In the past, I’ve painted us comics fans as “slavishly beholden to continuity” oftentimes to a fault. We can be more concerned with which events were in continuity or “canon” that we forget to check if the book is any good or not. Whenever someone starts droning on and on about continuity in comics my brain automatically cues up the meme of Charlie Kelly from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and his interconnecting string wall of conspiracy.

Dark Nights: Death Metal #1 is on stands TODAY.

(If you’re even vaguely aware of DC parting ways with Diamond as a distributor in recent weeks and all the extra hoops your LCS has to jump through to GET DC books in the future, enjoy this Wednesday release while you can. There’s sure to be some bumps in the road ahead as they transition to their new distribution model. Just ask your local comics retailer and you’ll be treated to a stream of obscenity that will turn the air blue.)

Denny O’Neil

Last Friday THE CHIEF texted me to let me know that comics legend and titan of the industry, Denny O’Neil had passed. This loss hit a bit different for me when compared to other industry veterans that have died because I had a fleeting connection to Denny.

The connection was supposed to have been even more fleeting than it was but Denny had other ideas. Just over a year ago I got the chance to interview him in advance of his appearance at the Toronto Comic-Con and it was something I totally was not ready to do.

Generally, I’m not an interviewer but when presented with the chance to talk with an actual legend I talked myself into doing it. His PR people were very clear to be respectful of his time and to keep the interview to fifteen minutes. That was cool. I could do that.

I wrote down some terrible “softball” questions stopping short of “who would win in a fight?” or “who’s your favourite character?” I then commenced to doing some deep breathing exercises and dialled the phone number they gave me (I HAD BEEN GIVEN DENNY O’NEIL’S PHONE NUMBER).

The voice on the other end of the line was instantly recognizable from countless Batman DVD extras regarding the history of the character. I got out precisely one of the questions I had written down before Denny took me to school.

It was a literal school, too. I got a private history lesson on Denny’s life in the business as well as the history of the medium itself. I had set a timer to remind myself when it was time to wrap it up but he was on a roll and showed no signs of slowing down…he was happy to keep talking and he had no other appointments booked so I reaped the benefits of that. Eventually, when I transcribed the recording I had made, the text was in excess of three thousand words.

Last week saw the publication of the Joker 80th Anniversary 100-Page Giant and it of course featured a Denny O’Neil penned Joker story (which was great). I could go on and on about how his work benefitted the industry and all of us comic book fans but I’ll instead recommend that you pick up your own favourite work of his and give it a read.

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