DC’s Final Fight and the Last Hurrah


WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Dark Nights: Death Metal #7, by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion, Yanick Paquette, Bryan Hitch, Nathan Fairbairn, Alex Sinclair, FCO Plascencia & Tom Napolitano, on sale now.

It’s been years in the making, but it looks like the end of the Metal saga is finally here. Dark Nights: Death Metal #7 caps off DC’s most recent attempt at continuity wrangling. Its roots go back at least to August 2017’s Dark Days: The Forge. If we include Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s efforts in Doomsday Clock, that stretches a year farther, to July 2016’s DC Universe Rebirth special.

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In any event, DC has been wrestling with its timeline for a while now, so we’ll explore how Death Metal sets up DC’s shared superhero universe for 2021 and beyond. It aims to be the last cosmic crossover readers will ever need, and it might just have succeeded. Therefore, grab your copy of Death Metal #7, beware of SPOILERS, and settle in for the final round of minutiae, Easter eggs and analysis.

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Justice League Roll Call, The Final Fight (Pages 1-2, 4-5, 7-8, 10, 13, 15, 23)

Death Metal Final Battle

The flaming Superman we see on Page 1 (called “Last Son” on Page 10) isn’t the Earth Angel, but something new, “corrupted by a million suns” as his natal rocket wandered way off-course.

Just when we thought there were no new characters in the big fight, the original Captain Marvel – now known as Shazam, of course – pops up on Page 2. From what we can tell, he’s wearing the classic version of his costume, not the current version which came in with the New 52. Bill Parker and C.C. Beck created Captain Marvel for February 1940’s Whiz Comics #2, and the classic version was last seen living on Earth-5.

The caveman on Page 4 appears to be Vandal Savage, created by Alfred Bester and Martin Nodell for Winter 1943’s Green Lantern #10. Vandal was originally Vandar Adg, a prehistoric human who became immortal after exposure to a radioactive meteor. He had a decent amount of screen time in the first Metal miniseries because he represented one of the ancient tribes which would eventually come to shape Earth’s destiny. In fact, July 2010’s Batman: The Return Of Bruce Wayne issue #1 tells us that Vandal was kicked out of the Blood Tribe after losing a fight to the time-tossed Masked Manhunter.

Etrigan the Demon appears on Page 5, rhyming his way to the boundaries of the old Comics Code. We saw his Bat-mashup back in Death Metal#1. Jack Kirby created Etrigan for August-September 1972’s The Demon #1.

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Aquaman and Ocean Master’s mother Atlanna (Page 7) first appeared in May 1959’s Adventure Comics #260 and was created by Robert Bernstein and Ramona Fradon. There, it was revealed that she had died when her son was very young. Subsequent stories have brought her back, but living in another dimension until the time is right for her to return to Atlantis.

Page 7 also pits Swamp Thing and friends against Swamp King, who was introduced in February 2021’s War of the Multiverses special. That story was written by Justin Jordan and drawn by Mike Henderson.

Stephanie “Spoiler” Brown (Page 8) was created by Chuck Dixon and Tom Lyle for August 1992’s Detective Comics #647. Gerry Conway and Don Newton created Jason Todd (also Page 8) for March 1983’s Batman #357. He became Robin II in December 1983’s Batman#366; and Judd Winick and Doug Mahnke revived him as the Red Hood in February 2005’s Batman #635.

Marv Wolfman and George Pérez created Deathstroke the Terminator (Page 8) for December 1980’s The New Teen Titans #2. We saw a Batman/Deathstroke mash-up in Death Metal #1. Wolfman and Pérez also created Frances Kane, Magenta (Page 13), for March 1982’s New Teen Titans #17. She was Wally West’s girlfriend back in Blue Valley when she suddenly started manifesting powerful magnetic abilities. For a long time, she was reluctant to pick a codename or costume, but she first appeared as Magenta in March 1987’s New Teen Titans #29. She and Wally broke up not long afterwards (around July 1987’s The Flash #2) and she had taken a dark turn by the time of Early September 1993’s The Flash #80. After that, she was fairly antagonistic to Wally.

John Byrne created Silver Banshee (Page 10), the villain who can kill you if she knows your real name, for December 1987’s Action Comics #595.

In addition to Magenta, Page 13 includes a couple of lesser-known Flash rogues. The Turtle, dates back to Barry Allen’s debut in October 1956’s Showcase #4 and was created by Bob Kanigher and Carmine Infantino. Appropriately enough, he is a legacy villain, since the original Flash had fought the original Turtle. The current version of the Turtle debuted in August 2018’s Justice League #2. Cary Bates and Irv Novick created Lisa “Golden Glider” Snart, sister of Captain Cold, for June 1977’s The Flash #250. Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver created Girder for October 2001’s Flash: Iron Heights special.

The redheaded Amazon on Page 13 is Artemis, created by William Messner-Loebs and Mike Deodato Jr. for September 1994’s Wonder Woman #90. She was Wonder Woman briefly, during which time Diana adopted a very 1990s biker-shorts-and-short-jacket outfit.

We think that the “Hippolyta” on Page 13 is Hippolyta Trevor, the Fury, created by Roy and Dann Thomas and Ross Andru and debuting in February 1983’s Wonder Woman #300. Originally she was from Earth-Two and was the daughter of the Golden Age Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor. After Crisis On Infinite Earths, though, she became the child of another World War II-era heroine, Helena “Fury” Kosmatos. In any event, “Lyta” Trevor was a member of Infinity, Inc., where she met and married Hector Hall, son of Carter and Shiera Hall. After she retired from superheroics, Lyta had a child who was taken from her and turned into Daniel, the Lord of Dreams. Anyway, given the Hall family’s connections to Metal, it’s nice that she gets a cameo here.

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Of course, Page 15 also features Damian Wayne. Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert created the outgoing Robin for September 2006’s Batman #655, taking their inspiration from the events of Mike W. Barr and Jerry Bingham’s 1987 graphic novel Batman: Son of the Demon. Damian became Robin in July 2009’s Batman: Battle for the Cowl #3. Morrison and Kubert then gave readers a chilling glimpse of Damian as Batman in the alternate future of July 2007’s Batman #666. We don’t think that present-day Damian is aware of his future self; but either way, he probably stands by his statement on Page 15.

Alfred Pennyworth gets a last hurrah as a zombie on Page 23. Since Death Metal allows for the recently-dead to come back to life, it seems quite possible that this event could be the quiet resurrection of everyone’s favorite butler. Consider: Alfred wasn’t called “Pennyworth” until November 1969’s Batman #216 (in a story written by Frank Robbins and pencilled by Irv Novick), so we can assume that was the Earth-One version’s name. Alfred was created by Don Cameron and Bob Kane and first appeared in April-May 1943’s Batman #16. Cameron (with artist Dick Sprang) then gave Alfred the last name Beagle (February 1945’s Detective Comics #96), which suggests that the Earth-One version was an entirely different person. In both the Golden and Silver Ages, Alfred became Bruce Wayne’s butler well after Batman and Robin’s debuts, but that changed with the start of “Batman: Year One” in February 1987’s Batman #404. We say all that to note that Alfred has a surprisingly complex backstory – we haven’t even mentioned his daughter – and it would be a shame not to explore it all in the post-Death Metal comics.

Justice League Roll Call, The Last Bash (Pages 32, 34-35, 37)

Batwoman (Kate Kane) makes her Death Metal debut on Page 32. She was based on the original Batwoman, Kathy Kane, who was created by Edmond Hamilton and Sheldon Moldoff for July 1956’s Detective #233. Greg Rucka is probably most responsible for Kate’s development, although Ken Lashley drew Kate’s first appearance (August 2006’s 52 #7) and Shawn Moll drew her first appearance as Batwoman (September 2006’s 52 #9). Her original costume came basically from Alex Ross’s reworking of Carmine Infantino’s Batgirl outfit, with red highlights instead of yellow; and her current costume was designed by J.H. Williams.

Jack Kirby created Big Barda (Page 35), who first appeared in Mister Miracle #4 (September-October 1971). E. Nelson Bridwell and Ramona Fradon created Fire (Page 34), debuted as the Green Flame in the not-quite-in-continuity Super Friends #25 in 1979. Her first appearance in a mainline DC book was June 1982’s DC Comics Presents #46. Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire created Ice (Page 34) for April 1988’s Justice League International #12. She was based on the original Ice Maiden, created by Bridwell and Fradon for December 1977’s Super Friends #9.

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We think the blue person with the white mohawk (Page 34) is the New 52-style Captain Atom, designed by Freddie Williams II. Steve Ditko and Joe Gill created Captain Atom for March 1960’s Space Adventures #33. Cary Bates and Pat Broderick gave Captain Atom a new secret identity and man-out-of-time origin story in March 1987’s Captain Atom #1. Cap was relaunched yet again for the New 52 (November 2011’s Captain Atom #1) by J.T. Krul and Williams, using a significantly-modified version of the Bates/Broderick origin.

Last but by no means least, Talia al-Ghūl (Page 37) was created by Denny O’Neil and Bob Brown and first appeared in May 1971’s Detective Comics #411.

Time-Trippy Potpourri (Pages 6-7, 16, 20-21, 24, 41-42)

“160 million years ago” (Page 6) was in the middle of the Jurassic period of the Mesozoic Era. The Jurassic lasted from about 200 million years ago to 145 million years ago, while the larger Mesozoic lasted from about 252 million years ago to 66 million years ago. 160 million years ago was towards the end of the Middle Jurassic (175-163 million years ago), so those dinosaurs are probably Diplodocuses. On Pages 17-18 the Darkest Knight keeps talking about the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs, which isn’t a bad metaphor; but he’s about 94 million years too early. That extinction-level event happened at the end of the Cretaceous period, some 66 million years ago. The asteroid is thought to have impacted around the Yucatan Peninsula near the Mexican town of Chicxulub.

We’re sensing some metatextual commentary in Barry’s taunt of blue costume-wearing Wally West (Page 7), since he may have been part of some abandoned plans for putting DC’s timeline in order. Still, “you’re just a bad idea” is pretty harsh. By the way, using Blue Wally as a villain is kind of confusing, considering that the DC Universe’ Wally started off Death Metal in the blue costume.

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On Page 16, the Last Son mocks the “S”-shield as “stand[ing] for hope.” Although the “S” has been a symbol of the House of El going back to 1978’s Superman movie, this particular meaning originated with October 2003’s Superman: Birthright #2 (written by Mark Waid and pencilled by Leinil F. Yu). It was then incorporated into 2013’s Man of Steel movie.

Pages 20-21 show a somewhat-confusing trip through time, passing by eras in what looks like reverse chronological order. First, we see the hands of the Silver Age Legion of Super-Heroes from the 30th Century, including those of Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Ultra Boy, Star Boy and possiblyInvisible Kid. Next, baby Kal-El’s rocket lands, although we don’t recognize its particular design. (It’s got the Earth-One blue and red color scheme, but it’s not as chunky; and it’s a little too colorful to be the Superman: Secret Origin version.) Finally, there are the hands of the Justice Society – Hawkman, Sandman, Spectre, Hourman, the Atom and probably the Flash.

Pages 41-42 show Sgt. Rock back in 1943, writing in Carter “Hawkman” Hall’s journal. The Nazis used a couple of supernatural methods to keep the Justice Society largely off of the front lines, including the Spear of Destiny (as seen in August-September 1977’s DC Special #29) or perhaps a power-negating agent known only as Parsifal (September 1993’s The Golden Age #1). Instead, President Roosevelt organized the JSA into the “Justice Battalion” for the duration of the war, and while they did go on a few battlefield missions, mostly protected the homefront. The same went for a larger group, the All-Star Squadron, organized after Pearl Harbor and including any available super-person who wanted to join. Most of the heroes seen on Page 42 are members of the Justice Society, except for Liberty Belle, who led the All-Star Squadron.

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