A collection of stories that lay the groundwork for DC’s insane – some might say Batshit Crazy and be almost too on the nose – event, Dark Nights: Metal, Dark Days: The Road to Metal contains Dark Days: The Forge and Dark Days: The Casting, along with Final Crisis #6 & #7, Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1, two issues of the mainline Batman series and finally, an issue of Nightwing.

Though the two issues of Dark Days are a relatively easy to follow pair of stories that set up Dark Nights: Metal pretty well, with a mystery – that Batman has been tracking and trying to get to the bottom of for years – being discovered by a number of the DC Universe’s heavy hitters, both good and, well, definitely not heroic. The problem is that this unravelling of a deep cosmic conundrum threatens the existence of the entire Multiverse…

There’s a lot of ground to cover and those two issues do well to get the pieces in place for the big event to come. However, the issues that follow these two are incredibly hard to follow if you aren’t already familiar with the particular periods of DC continuity they’re from – or if you were already on board with reading each series as they released. There’s not enough space to provide proper context for the Multiverse spanning Final Crisis saga and, though they’re not quite as baffling, the Batman-centric and Nightwing issues included are just as confusing, given that they take part within larger – and largely unrelated to Dark Days, for the most part – stories.

No doubt the knowledge of the events covered here will be hugely valuable and insightful once I begin reading Dark Nights: Metal, but until then I’m afraid that much of this book, with its posturing superpowered characters spouting pseudo-pretentious claptrap, just left me feeling like I’d need to get a PhD in DC before I could truly get the hang of what was going on.

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