Tomorrow sees the release of “Dark Nights: Metal” #5, which begins to drag the event towards its grand conclusion. With February’s “Dark Knights Rising: The Wild Hunt” and March’s “Dark Nights: Metal” #6 wrapping up the event, the fifth issue does a lot of heavy lifting to put the pieces in place for the finale. This includes a beloved character’s first ‘Rebirth’ appearance, a bit of explanation of Plastic Man’s situation, and more.
I had the chance to chat with writer Scott Snyder about he and Greg Capullo’s work on the series on Friday, just before the news of the “No Justice” event hit. Be warned, spoilers for both this week’s issue #5 and, perhaps, March’s #6, are discussed. Make sure to pick up “Dark Nights: Metal” #5 tomorrow.
Last night, I put my kids to bed, sat down, re-read all of “Dark Nights: Metal.” Here’s this story that, in all essence, is a dark story. It’s clearly a story that has a lot of weight to it, and a lot of darkness to it. I was struck by the hopefulness in issue #5 and how there’s this real strong sense of purpose and of never giving up and hope. When the press for this book started, you guys kept saying, “it’s not a dark story. It’s not just darkness for darkness sake.” Now that we’re almost at the end, how important was it for you to make this story as hopeful as it’s been?
Scott Snyder: Oh, it was really important. I mean, I think it doesn’t mean you can’t go as dark as possible with the threat. Ultimately, I never wanted to lead with this, cause I felt like it would be the worst pitch for an event ever: “Metal” is really about those moments in your life when you step out of your comfort zone, you explore, you try something new, you look for answers that are slightly off the beaten path, that you’ve been on. What you find is horrifying. You find only information that sort of makes you feel like the worst versions of yourself are waiting for you, and that only kind of pathways back to the darkest place that you’ve been are in front of you.
It’s meant to get very dark and very scary, hence you know, the evil Batman and the Batman Who Laughs, and all that kind of crazy of the Dark Multiverse and so on. At the end of the day, the two things I’d say, are one, for me when I was going back and reading events, preparing to do one for DC, one of the things I realized was, I remember so vividly reading “Infinity Gauntlet,” and “Secret Invasion” and “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” and all these as a kid, and being transported, and not even realizing that they were such, sort of resonant stories for me at that age about growing up, or about finding your true self for all these things, cause they’re buried in this kind of lexicon of comic book lunacy.
At the same time, they were really important, because what got me through … I think childhood, you know as a kid that was anxious and loved Dungeons and Dragons and all that stuff, were superheros. They make you brave and excited to sort of face the things that you didn’t think you could at that age. You take sort of refuge in that. We wanted Metal to seem like it was this celebratory crazy, out of control rock and roll take. It does have a pretty, at least for me, genuine heart, where it’s about those moments in your life, where you don’t know how you’re gonna find your way through.
For me as kid, especially one of the things that helped me through, were comics and superheros. It has that kind of celebratory swoop at the end. It’s also about finding those, to me, beyond sort of the fun of comics aspect of it. It’s very much about, sort of, finding hope in others, finding, you know, you’re in it together in some way and having the Justice League reunite. Issue five is sort of the, all hope is lost. It’s that moment at the end of act two, when the characters have really ventured outside any kind of comfort zone that they know. What they have found is, only things that point to doom. It’s definitely the darkest, this and “The Wild Hunt” give kind of the darkest vision of what’s to come.Continued below
There is some really dark stuff here. The one panel that really struck me is older Bruce and Superman. They’re looking at the Kent family mailbox. It’s covered in like, I don’t know if it’s worms or brains or blood, or something. It’s just this horrible image.
SS: Yes, like an alien … Yeah right.
It is this sort of terrifying moment, but in the same panel, you see Bruce saying, never again will he lose hope. It’s a beautiful sequence. I was very struck by that.
SS: Thank you.
One of the things I love about DC events in particular, is every now and then, there’s a character that’s there, and you’re happy to see them, but you don’t really know why they’re there yet. Part of the fun is sort of unlocking that, figuring out why is this guy there? Your Plastic Man stuff in this issue was really fun. I’m thinking, “Oh, he’s a conductor. Oh that makes so much sense! Okay, I love that.” I guess my question for you is, when you’re assembling the team for this, when you’re putting all the pieces of the puzzle, how early was Plastic Man a piece of it? Beyond that, sort of, where did this idea of having him be elementally important to the DC Universe come from for you?
SS: Well, he was there from the very beginning. I mean, he’s there in “The Forge” and in “The Casting.” He was one of the first characters that we sort of thought of, when we were talking about people that could have innate connections to the Dark Multiverse, the things beyond the boundaries of the DCU and the source wall. You know, him, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Martian Manhunter. Characters that have this kind of exploratory, strange, sort of speculative science feel to them.
With Plastic Man, his big moment is coming up. One of the fun things has my keeping in the egg the whole time, and sort of holding back and holding back, and holding back, where we wanted to preserve his origin, make sure he was still the Eel that everybody loved, where he’s that kind of hapless thief, who falls into a vat of bizarre chemicals and learns to change his shape. What he doesn’t realize is that, there’s a conductivity to the sort of, chemicals that have been infused into his cells. And so, they’re connected to the, sort of energies of the Multiverse.
The more dark energy rises, like in “Metal,” the more the forge turns dark instead of being balanced. People are feeling more and more fear, the more their nightmares run through this head. As somebody who’s conductive and changes shape by will, he can’t stop himself from becoming these nightmarish things that people are imagining. There’s a heroism in kind of going back into that egg. That said, the whole event, like I said, is about stepping out of your comfort zone, trying to find answers, trying to explore, going past the boundaries that you think that circumscribe your life.
Eventually, in issue six, hint, hint, he might come out of his egg in a way that sort of celebrates all the crazy glory of Plastic Man. It’s one of my favorite pages from Greg, where it was like, one of fingers alone is like a dolphin or a killer whale with a chain saw or whatever, his pinky or something. It’s a splash. I was like, “There’s so many pages I wanna own, but that’s very high on my list from Greg.”
Plastic Man definitely gets his day in the son, where Mr. Terrific is like, “Look. You can do this. You can hold it together. You can be the hero. Go crazy.” He’s like, “Bllllp.” Spoiler, but yeah. Him, Martian Manhunter, who I think in this issue [He is – Brian], you know, makes kind of a mysterious return. These are things that we’ve been planning for a long time. One of the things that we wanna really reignite with Metal. We have a ton of story rolling out of it.
One thing I just want to sort of hint at, is that between now and next month, when we start promoting “Metal” #6, you’ll see we have a very big publishing plan, and sort of story plan that has to do with the sort of repercussions of “Metal.” All your favorite characters are not dead. We’re not trying to do something like that, where we kill off Superman and Batman, or one of ’em or anything like that. What we’re trying to do is sort of, finish “Metal” in a way that essentially says all that stuff that just opened up to the DC Universe, not just the Dark Multiverse, but wait until you see even more what happens at the end. That creates huge story and expansive Kirby-esque fun for us to have over the next year.Continued below
Martian Manhunter, Plastic Man, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, these characters play a big role. They’re our exploratory science characters in that way. The Justice League has a huge role that’s reconfigured in ways that I can’t spoil. All of that stuff rolls out of “Metal.” You can start to see the beginnings here. We hope that on the one level, you read Plastic Man, you’re like, “Oh, he’s so crazy. I love Plastic Man. What a nut. Look, one of his hands is a tank.” And then, on the other hand you’re like, “Oh no, he actually speaks to what the heart to what the heart of what the story’s about.”
It’s gotta be very difficult to write an event like this, because you want to make everything feel dangerous. You wanna make it all feel like anything could truly happen. You know, the reader is savvy enough to know, this isn’t gonna end the DC Universe, right? We’ve seen solicits past this. How do you walk that fine line, between doing something really cool, and really different, and not just making it a total cop out at the end, being like, “everything’s cool now.”
SS: That’s a great question. I did a lot of homework. I’ll say that Brian. I spent the year that I was on “All-Star Batman”- one of the reasons I wanted to step out of the double ship and sort of do my own Batman in my own way, and kind of train, almost train, be like, “Can I do a crazy Batman on the road with a chainsaw and flamethrower?” Let me see. All of that kind of stuff that we’re doing in “All Star,” I was practicing, the idea was how can you look at things from angles that you haven’t before. Can you step out of that zone that you feel really comfortable in , to be able to look at the whole DCU that way. I was also taking the time to train, reread, every event from Marvel and DC over the last 20 plus years.
That is the best homework by the way, when you’re like, “I can’t talk today. I have to work,” and then you’re picking up “Infinity Gauntlet” or whatever and being like, “ah.” The library, you know. That is great research to have to do. What I realized is unless they happened to occur at a moment in time where it felt appropriate for the zeitgeist, or almost antithetical to the zeitgeist, the ones I love the most were the ones that introduced the biggest new concepts, the biggest expansions of the universe in which they played. They gave the characters these great story engines.
Even talking to Brian Bendis, who’s been honestly like one of the greatest breaths of fresh air in a while for me at DC. We’ve been friendly for a while, but having him here now and going out to California with him and getting to talk to him like extensively. We text like every day. Asking him about what it was like doing events, it was so interesting, cause it really boils down to the idea of, you need to have it have effects.
You have to also gauge, I think what fans want and what you wanna see and give them not just what they wanna see, but what they didn’t know they needed. It’s not about saying, “Hey, you know what you didn’t expect? I’m gonna murder Wonder Woman at the end of this.” Yes, that would get a news story and you’d sell a lot of issues, but it’s just, you know, it’s cruel and it’s not…if it’s not organic to where you’re headed it’s just, what’s the point? Everyone knows she’ll come back.
The challenge here was to say, “How do we do an event that’s about going past where you thought you could be seeing only horrible stuff, and then becoming brave together, and deciding, you know what? We’re gonna go even further.” To me, the idea is to expand the DC universe, to have without giving anything away about what happens at the end of Metal, having whole new realms of it open up and have it suddenly become terrifyingly and wondrously big, where the challenges are gonna be new, and that characters find themselves in roles that they didn’t expect, where whole new quadrants of space open. There’s new, sort of alien races.Continued below
There are all kinds of stuff that happens, where you’re like, “Wow. These are new challenges and new story.” It makes us bigger and more additive and more, I think, exciting, as opposed to contracting or sort of dealing with the grief of things, regressing or multiple deaths and the shrinking. For me it’s that. It’s that “Metal” is about going past where you expected to be, and our plans post “Metal” are very, very much in that spirit. What I’m doing post “Metal” at DC, what my partners on “Metal” are doing, the people who have written the interim issues, Josh [Williamson] and James [Tynion IV] all of us were about, and Brian Bendis.
We’re very much about expanding the DC Universe as we go forward, not just in terms of new characters. I don’t mean like expanding, “Hey. Let’s bring in a thousand new characters.” It’s about expanding the story that you thought these characters had. You could say, “God, I never thought that we could go that far with Wonder Woman or Superman, where their so much bigger than I thought they should be. That’s so cool.”