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.

Manga Review: A Boy Who Has Been Reincarnated Twice Spends Peacefully as an S-Rank Adventurer, ~ I who was a Sage and a Hero of Previous World, Will Live in Peacefulness in the Next World~

Details: Also know as A Boy Who Has Been Reincarnated Twice Spends Peacefully as an S-Rank Adventurer, ~ I who was a Sage and a Hero of Previous World, Will Live in Peacefullness in the Next World~, Nido Tensei Shita Shounen wa S Rank Boukensha Toshite Heion ni Sugosu-zense ga kenja de eiyuu datta boku wa raisede wa jimini ikiru, and 二度転生した少年はSランク冒険者として平穏に過ごす~前世が賢者で英雄だったボクは来世では地味に生きる~

Score: 6.3/10

This comic is an average isekai story that fulfills most of the tropes of the isekai genre.

The story takes place in a fantasy world. A hero who has was the most powerful warrior died and then reincarnated as the most powerful wizard. Now, the hero reincarnates again with all the memories and knowledge from his past lives and decides to live a quiet life as a low key adventurer.

There’s really nothing here that is original or that I haven’t seen before. The protagonist is overpowered and defeats everything that tries to fight him… and that’s basically the whole plot. The story is basically the reader just watching our protagonist go through lie with cheat codes.

Overall, this wasn’t terrible, but I’m not sure I would recommend it. It’s simply to redundant and done before by other isekai stories.

Comic Book Review: Excalibur (2019)

Details: Currently ongoing. More information can be found at https://www.marvel.com/comics/series/27547/excalibur_2019_-_present

Score: 5.9/10

I’ve read about twelve issues at the time of writing this review and it’s become clear that Excalibur exists merely as a prelude to X Of Swords.

Basically, in X Of Swords, the big crossover X-Men events, Apocalypse creates and interdimensional gate. This book just explains how that came to be. The stories aren’t great and don’t feel as if they have any urgency or point to them. The art is fine. It’s just a pointless book where the biggest draw to me is seeing the romance between Rogue and Gambit. Even that wasn’t that great.

Overall, this is a skippable book.

Comic Book Review: X-Force (2019)

Details: Currently ongoing. More information can be found at https://www.marvel.com/comics/series/27564/x-force_2019_-_2020

Score: 7/10

Of all the X-Men books currently in print, this book probably has the most meaningful story. All the other books feel like asides or slices of life of the new mutant nation. This book feels like it has a point to it.

As per the other current X-Men books, all the world’s mutants have united and formed their own nation. Threats have arisen to attack this new nation and a covert hit squad is needed to take those threats out. Enter X-Force.

I like that from the very start, the stakes are high. The story starts with the assassination of Charles Xavier. Thanks to the resurrection protocols, they can bring him back, but that an assassination like this was even possible endangers the entire nation. Wolverine then assembles a group of capable mutants to hunt down the enemies responsible.

What’s interesting about this book is that the members of X-Force are mangled and resuscitated constantly. Quentin Quire in particular has become a recurring joke where he usually dies off in the first few minutes of every mission.

Other than Quentin, there is some exploration into the implications of resurrection and the effect on people psychology. When you resurrect, you can have some of your most painful memories erased, enabling a more stable mind. Some character elect not to resurrect because they’d rather keep their scars than forget them. There’s a lot of interesting musings like this.

Mostly though, the plot revolves around threats that endanger the entire nation. Whereas the other books offer a small slice of the new mutant society, X-Force deals with national threats that endanger every mutant. It’s a nice change from the other X-Men books. Also, the tone here is more serious, which is nice since the other books are more humorous most of the time.

Overall, X-Force is good. If you want to keep up with the new X-Men status quo, X-Force is a good book to do that with.

Comic Book Review: Empyre: X-Men (2020)

Details: This miniseries is currently completed. More information can be found at https://www.marvel.com/comics/series/30527/empyre_x-men_2020

Score: 7/10

Despite Empyre being a big disappointment, this Empyre: X-Men spinoff miniseries was a lot of fun. It even has a bit of emotion to it.

As per the Empyre miniseries, an alien race called the Cotati are invading the Earth and one of them decides to land on the former mutant nation of Genosha. Unbeknownst to the Cotati, Wanda Maximoff has temporarily turned the millions of mutant corpses on the island into zombies for about thirty days. Hijinks now ensue as the Cotati and the X-Men battle each other while battling millions of superpowered zombies.

My main enjoyment with this book is the comedy. There are lots of funny moments between the X-Men has they deal with this threat. Despite the Cotati being a potentially world ending threat, the X-Men don’t really take it seriously. I mean they do, but they mess around a lot too. Throw in some evil, elderly botanists that were introduced in Hickman’s X-Men series, and you get even more jokes thrown in.

What surprised me though was one specific scene involving the zombie of a mutant and the actual mutant the zombie was based off of. If you’re unfamiliar with the current state of the X-Men in the Marvel Universe, all mutants are basically immortal… but not really. Whenever a mutant dies, a clone of that mutant is created with all their powers and their memories. So in a sense, all mutants are immortal.

Anyways, a mutant named Explodey Boy who has the power of blowing himself up meets with the zombified corpse of himself on Genosha. They have a very moving conversation among themselves. It’s very science fiction-y in that it’s like your future self talking to your younger self, except that it’s your future self talking to your younger, currently dead self and talking about how life has turned out all right for them. It was very strangely moving and elevated the whole story.

Overall, this was a fun read and had just the right amount of emotion added onto the end of it. If you haven’t read Empyre and have a grasp of X-Men comic book lore, you might feel a bit lost though.