Pedal to the Metal
Posted by jwdubbya
Event comics aren’t supposed to be fun anymore. The past few years have seen countless tie-ins and additional issues with prices jacked up so you “have to find out what happens” regardless of the comic costing you almost triple the usual cover price. After Secret Empire, Civil War II, Convergence, and a host of other events, you wouldn’t be surprised to hear long time comic readers say that they “needed a break” from the world of mainstream comics. But then Dark Nights: Metal came along, and bucked the trend completely. Here’s an event that’s not only selling well, but a massive hit with readers. Lately I’ve seen fans request not only the main Metal series, but the tie in issues too, which is one of the biggest signs of a successful event for any publisher. From the one shots detailing the different demonic Batmans that appeared at the end of the second issue to the ”Gotham Resistance” storyline that ran thought Teen Titans, Nightwing, Suicide Squad, and Green Arrow, it’s been difficult to keep up with the growing demand for this series. So what’s the difference?
Well, for one, Metal reunites Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, the creative team that created a monumental run on Batman at the start of the New 52 relaunch. With that kind of pedigree involved in this event, it’s no surprise that fans have been turning out in droves for it. But it also helps that Metal is one of the strongest events in the past few years. With Snyder and Capullo’s names attached, this isn’t a big surprise, but Metal also stands as a very unique event as well. While it follows the standard event story telling tropes (a new, giant enemy has arrived that will take out our heroes before someone figures out their weakness), Metal also has a very distinctive look that makes it stand out from previous events from Marvel and DC. Every cover and panel looks like it should be airbrushed onto the side of a van that would be sitting outside of a Judas Priest concert in the 80’s, and that awesome vibe carries over into the book’s writing as well. Regardless of the fact that Metal uses the same event comic template that they all do, it also finds ways to surprise you with new revelations and twists each issue.
For Marvel, it’s gotta be a little embarrassing for the company to see how well Metal is doing for DC in the wake of the failure of Secret Empire. From the misguided story decisions to the confusion over the reading order, Secret Empire was nowhere near the highs of previous Marvel events, yet the company still tried to paint the picture of Secret Empire being a massive hit. While the sales were there, they pale in comparison to previous Marvel events, and the event as a whole has really hurt Marvel’s creative output, whereas Metal has only strengthened DC’s line up. When people saw a “Secret Empire” logo above a Marvel series they were collecting, they groaned. When they see a “Metal” logo above a series they collect, they seek out the other issues that tie into it.
Perhaps the biggest reason for Metal’s success is also the simplest: it’s just a good story. Metal is definitely the most unique event I’ve ever seen from the big two publishers, and it’s really taken the comic industry by storm. DC has been doing everything right with this event: they took their time with the story; made sure the tie in issues didn’t hit all at once, and put the talent behind the book. It’s an example that every comic company should follow from here on out.