This week Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo reteam of the DC event Metal, and Matt Wagner returns with Mage: The Hero Denied!
Dark Nights: Metal #1 (DC Comics)
More so than many big comic book events, there’s a lot of hype surrounding Dark Nights: Metal. Of course, any book that reunites the Batman New 52 dream team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo is bound to gain some attention, but the hype surrounding Metal is definitely more palpable than other events in the works (looking at you, Marvel Legacy). Perhaps it’s the fact that this event will tie into the early days of the DC universe, or that DC has been on such a creative hot streak lately that anything they make will have a lot of attention, but whatever it is, Metal has a ton of hype, which means it has a lot to live up to. And while it’s not the action packed event that the Batman with battle axes promo images would have you believe, Snyder and Capullo are setting the stage for some major shake ups in the DC universe.
Picking up from the events of The Casting and The Forge (yes, you should definitely read those specials before this), Metal finds the Justice League being confronted with the mysterious origins of the Nth metal. The former Hawkgirl, now leader of the Blackhawks, confronts the heroes and informs them of her belief that the metal didn’t originate from one of the 52 known worlds of the Multiverse, but from a different, Dark Multiverse filled with nightmarish creatures beyond human comprehension. One in particular, Baphomet, has had his sights on Batman for years, believing that he can use the Dark Knight to bring him into our world. Is this the mystery that Batman has been researching in secret all these years?
Scott Snyder is well known as one of the THE Batman writers, but it’s a welcome change of pace to see him take on the other members of the Justice League. While initially pitched as a “Batman-centric” event, Metal features more time with Batman interacting with the Justice League than I initially expected, and it’s cool to see Snyder take on the differing personalities of the League here. In fact, I wouldn’t mind seeing him take on the League in their own book soon. Aside from that, this opening issue has Snyder starting to lay out the hints for where Metal will go, and they’re all very intriguing and look to be heading somewhere very cool.
What is there to say about Greg Capullo that I haven’t said before? If you’ve been missing his take on the DC Universe then you’ll be plenty happy with what’s contained in these pages. Capullo brings you Mongul, the Justice League in awesome medieval style armor, and a crazy Voltron Justice League robot all in the first 10 pages. The man is insane, and doesn’t slow down for a second. You can tell he’s been anxious to get back to the DC fold and this book is stronger for that.
Dark Nights: Metal, while maybe not being insanely action packed, is still a fantastic opening for this story, and if you’ve avoided the big last page spoiler by the time you read it, has a pretty big surprise as well. While I don’t know where exactly Snyder and Capullo will take us, but I know I’m definitely in for the ride.
Mage: The Hero Denied #1 (Image Comics)
Matt Wagner’s Mage series has been one of the longest running series in comics, despite having relatively few issues out. What started as his take on the Arthurian legend has spanned decades in comic book time, and the wait for this third (and final) installment, The Hero Denied, has been pretty long. So long so that I don’t really remember much of what happened in the previous series, The Hero Defined. Luckily though, Wagner’s third volume is easy to pick up and read without having to go back and track down those early issues.
Kevin Matchstick has been living a relatively quiet life with his family. The demons and monsters that he used to battle haven’t been seen for years, and he’s finally found a place to settle down. Everything has been normal, until he notices a few strange looking creatures while walking with his son in the park. Realizing that the forces of evil have found him yet again, Kevin Matchstick must return to battle the demons that not only threaten the world, but now his family as well.
Matt Wagner’s script does a spectacular job at not only setting the stakes for Kevin now, but also showing how much he has changed since the last volume of Mage ended way back in 1999. Kevin is a lot older now obviously, but seeing him care for his son and family is a really intriguing way to set up a whole new world of stakes for our hero aside from him just being older. A lot of times when a creator returns to a story after a long break the book doesn’t feel the same. Luckily that’s not the case here; Wagner hasn’t lost his edge at all.
Wagner also hasn’t lost his artistic style either. His art is still the same Mage style that the series is known for, and Wagner’s gift for cool creature designs is on full display when Kevin is attacked at the park. Wagner also has a lot of fun teasing the members of Kevin’s family, and has a fluidity to his art style that makes a strong case for a Mage animated series on FX or Adult Swim.
After such a long break, you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that Mage: The Hero Denied would be a bad comic. But I can faithfully say that Wagner’s return to the world of Kevin Matchstick is pretty damn great. Wagner seems to be pulling out all the stops for this final volume in the Mage saga, and I can’t wait to see what he’s got planned.