Comic Book Review: Dark Nights: Death Metal

Details: This series is currently complete. More information can be found at https://www.dccomics.com/comics/dark-nights-death-metal-2020/dark-nights-death-metal-1 and https://dcdeathmetal.world/

Score: 6.5/10

Dark Knights: Death Metal is DC Comics big comic book event for this year. It is a mess. The prior big annual event was also written by Snyder and that was also a mess. This was an even bigger mess and while entertaining if you read it superficially, it feels too disjointed and pointless. If there was any real point to this series, it is to relaunch the DC Comics universe yet again and to launch an enormous line of toys and action figures.

If you’ve been keeping up with Batman and the Justice League comic books over the last few years, you’d be aware of the character known as The Batman Who Laughs. He’s basically an evil Batman from a parallel universe with all of Batman’s intelligence, but none of his morality. The Batman Who Laughs has obtained god like powers and threatens the entire DC Comics multiverse. Now the heroes and villains must band together to fight him and his nightmare forces.

After reading this, it’s clear to me that Snyder’s forte is writing horror, not large scale science fiction. Scott Snyder first met success at DC when he wrote for the main Batman book. His run on Batman is considered one of the best runs on Batman in its history. The story arcs here that got the most praise were the dark ones that were full of that horror atmosphere and yet had an optimism that permeated those stories.

Snyder later moved on to Justice League and the Death Metal annual miniseries’ which were books that mostly turned me off. They were just so scatterbrained. Snyder writes all these plot points that build up almost instantaneously and offer lackluster, unearned payoffs. It’s a weakness that I’ve also seen in Jonathan Hickman’s stories where the writer just tries to cram in too many ideas into a story and what you get is a half assed story that doesn’t do justice to any individual plot point. There’s too many things going that were set up poorly.

The same is true in Death Metal. There are too many cameos, plot points, development, references to past comics, all bereft of any competent setup. It all just ends up feeling cheap rather than what was like intended to be an epic moment. Of Snyder’s DC books that he’s written since leaving Batman, it was The Batman Who Laughs that I enjoyed the most. That was a small, intimate story with horror tones and ample character development. Death Metal lacks all that. It feels like Snyder constantly overreaches and throws in poorly researched elements of DC Comics history and glues them together for an incohesive story.

The art is great. I always enjoy Capullo’s art. It’s a shame that the story is so scatterbrained because good art cannot shine in a comic book with at least a somewhat decent story behind it.

Overall, this book was disappointing. Ultimately, this book exists solely to relaunch the DC Universe yet again in hopes of drawing in new readers, providing new stories to old readers, and to sell a ton of new toys.

Documentary Review: The Fire Rises: The Creation and Impact of the Dark Knight Trilogy

Details: You can watch this for free on YouTube. More information can be found at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3138282/

Score: 6.3/10

The Fire Rises is a look at Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy of films. It goes behind the scenes and interviews producers, writers and various people connected to the Batman franchise in relation to Nolan’s Batman films. It doesn’t go very in depth and mostly serves as marketing material for the films, but it is nice to get some behind the scenes opinions if you’re a fan of the films.

Nolan’s Batman movies changed a lot of what people thought about superhero films and they did this simply by being great films. While these films had humor, they were primarily dramas. In the past, superhero movies required a certain amount of jokiness and flamboyance in order to be believable to fans. Nolan’s Batman movies got rid of a lot of that flamboyance and successfully portrayed a much more realistic, believable superhero story.

In watching this drama, it becomes clear just how much new ground they broke with these films. Batman Begins was a franchise reboot, something that had not yet been done for superhero movies. I remember that at the time Batman Begins was released, I had no interest in watching it. The prior few Batman movies were so cringeworthy and out there that I just gave up on the idea of watching another Batman movie. To my surprise, all my friends who had seen it loved it. So I watched it and to my surprise, I found a story that somehow successfully told a fairly realistic, believable superhero story.

But Batman Begins was an origin story. The Dark Knight was a true Batman story. I remember I was hyped about this film until I heard that Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker. That was incredibly confusing because at the time, Heath had only been in roles as a teenage heartthrob. I’d never seen him in anything more serious or not romantic. Plus, I and everyone else anticipating this movie could not imagine how the Joker would be portrayed. Jack Nicholson had left his mark on the character and anyone else doing the role was hard to imagine. Suffice it to say, I and everyone else who watched it were blown away by Heath’s performance. It was a gritty, realistic, yet entertaining take on the character that no one had yet seen. Heath stole the show and elevated that film to the superhero classic that it is today.

They don’t talk that much about Dark Knight Rises and rightfully so. That wasn’t that great of a film.

Overall, this was a nice walk through memory lane. It’s not in depth, it doesn’t have any big reveals about scandals that went on behind the scenes. It was just a nice chat about some of what went into the films behind the scenes and the thought processes behind many creative decisions.

Comic Book Review: Batman: Three Jokers

Details: This is a three issue miniseries that has ended. More information can be found at https://www.dccomics.com/comics/batman-three-jokers-2020/batman-three-jokers-1

Score: 7/10

Batman: Three Jokers is a story that fans looked forward to at some point, but was delayed by years. This story was pushed so far back that any hype and anticipation you may have had for this story died years ago. The story itself isn’t bad and seeks to replicate the tone from classic Joker stories like The Killing Joke. It somewhat succeeds, but largely fails in that regard due to how short this miniseries is and how little the plot develops.

Years ago in the Justice League comic book, Batman sat in Metron’s chair, a chair that provides one with the knowledge of everything. Sitting in the chair, he asked who the Joker’s real identity was. The chair responded by asking him which one. What fans walked away with was that there were in fact three Jokers over the years and DC teased a comic going into the explanation for that. That was years ago. Delay after delay pushed this story back until finally, this story was published.

What’s disappointing is that I was hoping to gain insight into the origins of the Joker or Jokers. This story offered the possibility of getting a definitive origin story to the character or characters. What I got instead was a retcon that deletes the possibilities offered by three Jokers and tells Batman fans there is in fact only one true Joker going forward. In some ways, Three Jokers is a lazy attempt to reconcile the wild idea of three Jokers with the reality that the story tellers at DC Comics simply have no idea what to do with that idea.

The story itself isn’t too bad. The tone is right. This is a pseudo horror story that uses the Joker for greater character development of the Batman family. Primarily, we get to see a lot of Batgirl and Jason Todd. I cringed a bit at how they talked the relationship between Todd and Batgirl though. It made me feel like I was watching a long running television show where the writers have run out of ideas and decide that all the characters should start romancing each other. Additionally, the ending directly contradicts the reveal of three Jokers in the Justice League comic (although I guess you could argue it doesn’t with some half assed argument that Batman always knows everything).

The art is great.

Overall, this was an okay story that under delivered on possibly insurmountable hype. The delays in publication also didn’t help. If you are a fan of Batman, Three Jokers (and likely the White Knight elseworlds story) is likely a story you need to read for the wrinkles it adds to the Batman mythos.

Comic Book Review: Batman: Last Knight on Earth

Details: More information can be found at https://www.dccomics.com/comics/batman-last-knight-on-earth-2019/batman-last-knight-on-earth-1

Score: 6/10

Batman: Last Knight on Earth is not very good. It’s basically a worse copy of what Mark Millar did with Old Man Logan, except with Batman.

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Movie Review: Batman: Hush

Details: More information can be found at https://www.dccomics.com/blog/2018/07/20/batman-hush-is-getting-an-animated-movie and https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8752440/

Score: 7/10

Batman: Hush was surprisingly good considering how crappy the past few DC Comics animated movies have been in my opinion. Most amazingly is how the movie offers something new-ish for people already familiar with the comic book.

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