Check out our Spoiler-Filled ‘Dark Nights Metal’ #5 Review!
Bestial bellows and the shrill shrieks of suffering reverberate against the cavern’s darkened interior walls, creating a haunting, dissonant harmony. Sensing the heroine’s trepidation at the cavern’s threshold, fear desperately claws at her from the darkness with an insatiable hunger. The percussive beats of the heroine’s heart accelerate instantaneously to a prestissimo tempo, and adrenaline-fortified blood pulses through her veins with a snare drum’s staccato rhythm.
She methodically closes her eyes, forcing out any additional stimuli. The heroine instinctively begins to control her fight-or-flight response with diaphragmatic breathing. Her fists clench with warrior-like determination until her fingernails break skin, causing warm blood to trickle down her palms. Her heartbeat now crescendos to a forte, its primal rhythm serving as a victorious soundtrack.
Fear’s cold grasp no longer possesses dominion over the heroine. She knows that in order to save her friend, she must overcome her nyctophobia through exploring the complete darkness within the cavern and exude courage against the unknown horrors that await her arrival.
“…To Explore Is to Walk with Generations, Dead and Alive, in an Act of Love…”
Nyctophobia, an intense fear of the dark, and by extension the unknown, has been one of the predominant themes within the narrative of Dark Nights Metal. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have done masterful work in personifying the concept of fear within the Dark Multiverse. It is only necessary that as we approach the story’s climax, and The Dark is ultimately defeated, that the narrative’s themes shift to the antithesis of nyctophobia: Exploration and Discovery.
The desire to carry “the torch of discovery forward… lighting the darkness, no matter how terrifying the mystery,” is the ability to conquer one’s fear of the unknown. As with most themes, there are multiple interpretations of this concept. As a result, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Dark Nights Metal #5 is a thematically dense work of art that benefits from countless readings.
Nyctophobia is certainly the large part of the narrative here, as Scott Snyder uses a variety of character interactions to illustrate humanity’s various coping mechanisms when dealing with fear. As Aquaman operates the ancient piece of Atlantean technology, he ponders what past bargains were made to sustain his kingdom. Deathstroke responds, “If you ask me, the answers in front of your face are always what matter. Beyond those, better not to know.” Sometimes when faced with conquering the unknown, we take the stance of “what we don’t know can’t hurt us.” Through ignoring the fear, we are ultimately giving it power over us, thereby inhibiting our innate desire to explore and discover.
Plastic Man’s reaction to fear is one to which every reader can relate. Mr. Terrific explains, “Since the dark energy started rising, the nightmares of every living thing run through his head, trying to pull him toward evil. But he kept helping me. When the thoughts finally became too much, he retracted into that egg. He’s fighting off millions of dark impulses every second.”
Symbolically, fear can cause us to retreat back into our shells instead of opening ourselves up to new possibilities. Plastic Man serves as the artistic representation of this method for coping with fear through retreating into an object which literally possesses a shell. If we allow it to take control, fear can cause us to curl up into a ball as a means of protecting ourselves from the world.
Black Adam illustrates a third method in which individuals cope with fear. During battle with Wonder Woman, Black Adam says, “I’ve lived long enough to know when to fight and when to deal, Wonder Woman! And there are only reasons to compromise here.” Fear can cause us to compromise our ideals. When faced with what may feel like impossible odds, oftentimes it is easier to make compromises instead of doing the right thing.
“One Thing Is Consistent About You, Though. On Nearly Every Planet, Even When Everyone Else Falls, Even All Alone, You Always Fight Until the End.”
Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman’s respective quests of discovery present the audience with the antithesis of everything characterized by The Dark Multiverse.
Wonder Woman’s resolve to continue fighting in the face of unfavorable odds is juxtaposed against Black Adam’s willingness to compromise in the face of fear. The Amazonian Princess will not allow her morals to be compromised when faced with great evil. The Batman Who Laughs even states, “You always fight until the end.” Diana represents the courage in every person to continue fighting onward even when we want to give up.
Batman and Superman’s quest to discover a light within the World Forge represents a leap of faith that we all must make when facing the terrifying unknown. The Dark Knight and Man of Steel must make a leap of faith into the metals of the World Forge in order to reignite the flames of creation. Both of these heroes make this leap of faith despite the fact that the World Forge only possesses a glimmer of light.
Each of these quests of discovery represent ideals that are present within each one of us. These are the characteristics we all strive to attain when facing down our own fears. Additionally, when we falter, we are able to rely on our friends much in the same way that the Trinity can rely on each other.
“A Hero Pushed Through, Seeking Truth, Even When It Seemed Impossible to Find…”
In addition to all of the meta-context presented within Dark Nights Metal #5, one of the best parts of the issue is the method in which Batman provides a spark to the World Forge. Batman uses Dream’s most powerful weapon in all of the multiverse to reignite a spark of creation: A story.
Batman begins to tell Barbatos’s Demonic Hawkman a story of the great detective Carter Hall. This tale reignites hope within the creature as he remembers what he once was before he was caught in Barbatos’ cold grasp. It also provides an opening for the heroes to leap into the ignited spark of the World Forge. Although this is not spelled out directly to the reader, the clever use of a tactic presented within previous issues is completely ingenious.
“People Think of Birth as Loud, and Death as Silent. Things Start with a Bang, End with a Whimper, but I’ll Tell You a Secret. See, Endings… Endings Are the Loudest of All.”
Until this point, much of the narrative has been exploding with bombastic ideas as well as meta-context regarding fear and discovery. This is a welcome departure from most event issues which only serve to be fight sequences between heroes and villains. As a result, much of the action, while present, has felt more personal instead of presenting a grand spectacle of fisticuff. Perhaps The Batman Who Laughs is serving as the author’s voice through telling the reader that the battle is not over yet. We have yet to see the epic battle between our multiverse and the Dark Multiverse.
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s magnum opus with the DC Universe continues to reveal new facets of information regarding our own personal notions of fear and discovery. Dark Nights Metal #5 is an issue that requires multiple readings to catch the clever details and sub-context presented by the authors. What have you thought about the series thus far? Are there any details that we have missed? Are you excited for the epic conclusion to this tale? Sound off in the comment section below.