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Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman on the cover of Dark Nights: Death Metal #1, DC Comics (2020. Image: Greg Capullo/DC Comics

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DC Comics’ Dark Nights: Death Metal crossover: the full reading list

Don’t miss an issue of the biggest, baddest, metal-est event this summer

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Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

With the first issue of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Dark Nights: Death Metal, it’s officially summer event season at DC Comics. To help you keep track of this non-stop joyride through the DC Universe — in a car that will only play the best of AC/DC — here’s the lowdown on Death Metal, and how to mark your calendar along with its issues and tie-ins.

What is DC’s Dark Nights: Death Metal?

Death Metal is a spiritual sequel to Snyder and Capullo’s brain child, Dark Nights Metal, 2017’s bombastic, Heavy Metal-themed cosmic summer crossover with Batman at its core. When Dark Nights Metal was over, the series had shaken the DC Universe to its foundations, introduced a breakout villain, and set the table for Snyder’s even more bombastic run on Justice League. From Justice League sprang 2019’s Year of the Villain stories, and from the Year of the Villain came Death Metal.

The last we saw the Justice League, they were battling Perpetua, the dark goddess who created the universe, and losing. They crossed a glowing portal, in the hopes of finding one last potential key to the multiverse’s salvation, and ... that was it. Snyder’s run on Justice League ended in a great big To be continued in Death Metal.

“Something happens in between the end of Justice League and the beginning of [Death Metal] that’s part of the mystery,” Snyder told The Hollywood Reporter when the series was announced, “and when this story starts, the heroes are really down and it seems as though DC Universe has been transformed in such a way that Perpetua and the Batman Who Laughs have taken over.”

How do you read the Dark Nights: Death Metal comics?

As modern summer crossover events go, Death Metal is practically sedate. There are seven main issues to the storyline, each being released on a monthly basis starting in June. In August, DC will release two tie-in one-shots as well. In September, the main storyline will take a break — likely so that Capullo, who is drawing every issue, can catch up — and DC will release three tie-in one-shots.

The rest of the main storyline will be released once a month from October 2020 to January 2021 — although Snyder has said there are some unannounced tie-in issues in the works, depending on how well the series sells.

“In November and December we have some more killer specials AND X-overs planned as we near our giant finale,” the writer tweeted, “BUT how many we do depends on how you’re enjoying the event, what you say you want, all of it.”

To make things easy, here are all the Death Metal books and tie-ins that have been announced so far, along with their official summaries. And when all else fails, check Scott Snyder’s twitter account. He likes to make helpful homemade checklists on a whiteboard and updates them throughout his events.

Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman on the cover of Dark Nights: Death Metal #1, DC Comics (2020.
Dark Nights: Death Metal #1
Image: Greg Capullo/DC Comics


June 16: Dark Nights: Death Metal #1: Get ready for the earth-shattering encore! The legendary team behind Dark Nights: Metal and Batman: Last Knight on Earth take center stage and reunite for one last tour. When the Earth is enveloped by the Dark Multiverse, the Justice League is at the mercy of the Batman Who Laughs. Humanity struggles to survive in a hellish landscape twisted beyond recognition, while Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman have all been separated and fight to survive. Unleash the beast and let the head banging begin!

Wonder Woman crouches on a blasted hellscape in front of a batman-themed monster truck. Inside the truck’s smashed windshield sits a stoic Batman. Atop the truck rides a withered Swamp Thing brandishing two lit torches, on the cover of Dark Nights: Death Metal #3, DC Comics (2020).
Unlettered cover of Dark Nights: Death Metal #2
Image: Greg Capullo


July 14: Dark Nights: Death Metal #2: Get ready to scream! Wonder Woman roars across the horrifying Dark Multiverse landscape in the world’s most demented monster truck, with Swamp Thing riding shotgun! The two arrive at the ghoulish cemetery base of Batman and his army of zombies, but can the former friends stand each other long enough to form a plan and take back the planet? Plus, what’s Lobo doing in space?

Don’t miss the second chapter of the wildest ride in the DC Universe, from the epic team of writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo!

Superman soars upwards out of magma on the unlettered cover of Dark Nights: Death Metal #3, DC Comics (2020).
Unlettered cover of Dark Nights: Death Metal #3
Image: Greg Capullo/DC Comics


Aug. 4: Dark Nights: Death Metal Legends of the Dark Knights: The DC Universe has become engulfed by the Dark Multiverse, where demons dwell and reality is overrun by monstrous versions of the Dark Knight, all ruled by the Batman Who Laughs. In this collection of short tales, learn the terrifying secrets of these new Bats out of hell and other creatures of the night like Robin King, whose origin is just the worst! Plus, read about the secret buried beneath Castle Bat, the sentient Batmobile, and ... how did Batman turn into a dinosaur?

Aug. 11: Dark Nights: Death Metal #3: All aboard! When the Justice League launches its assault on New Apokolips, the team’s goal is to free Superman from his solar prison. But it all goes off the rails when they learn that the Man of Steel is gone for good thanks to the Anti-Life Equation. Plus, the deep secret of the Darkest Knight is revealed — but how much darker could the Batman Who Laughs possibly get? And don’t miss the surprise return of everyone’s favorite wanna be Robin!

Wonder Woman lounges on a lava throne with her chainsaw, flanked by Aquaman, Harley Quinn, and massive hyena on the cover of Dark Nights: Death Metal Guidebook, DC Comics (2020).
Dark Nights: Death Metal Guidebook
Image: Yasmine Putri/DC Comics

Aug. 18: Dark Nights: Death Metal Guidebook: Earth is turned upside down, shrouded in a realm of darkness after the Justice League’s defeat by the cosmic goddess Perpetua. Now the Batman Who Laughs and his army of Dark Knights rule the planet, wreaking havoc on humanity and raining destruction on the world. As Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, and other heroes fight to survive in this strange new landscape, one cloaked figure has been observing from the sidelines, creating a guidebook to this new world and its evil leaders in the hope of forming a plan of justice ... and penance.

This issue showcases the new factions of Earth and explores the mystery of what happened to our heroes after their battle with Perpetua. How does Wonder Woman, the new queen of Hell, reign over her prisoners? What is Batman doing with the Black Lantern Ring? And what happens when Harley Quinn takes charge of the Wasteland, and finds love in the process? All this and more in this jam-issue exploring the new world order.

Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman face the Anti-Monitor, Superboy Prime, and Darkseid on the cover of Dark Nights: Death Metal Trinity Crisis, DC Comics (2020).
Dark Nights: Death Metal Trinity Crisis
Image: Francis Manapul/DC Comics


Sep. 8: Dark Nights: Death Metal Trinity Crisis: With Superman freed from his New Apokolips prison, the classic Trinity lineup is reunited and ready to rock! Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman amp up their power to launch an assault on Castle Bat, and that’s just the warm-up act! Three walking nightmares are hidden deep inside the fortress—but these Dark Multiverse versions of the Anti-Monitor, Superboy Prime, and Darkseid hold the key to humanity’s survival. The Justice League have to face down their old nemeses, but will round two be the end for our heroes?

Sep. 22: Dark Nights: Death Metal Speed Metal: It’s the drag race from hell in this one-shot tie-in to Dark Nights: Death Metal! Taking place after the events of Dark Nights: Death Metal #3, the Darkest Knight is after Wally West and his Dr. Manhattan powers. Thankfully, Wally has backup in the form of Barry Allen, Jay Garrick, and Wallace West! It’s a knockdown, drag-out race through the Wastelands as the Flash Family tries to stay steps ahead of the Darkest Knight and his Lightning Knights!

President Superman, Captain Carrot, Guy Gardner, Uncle Sam, Owlman, Vampire Batman and more cling to the side of a structure for their lives, on the cover of Dark Nights: Death Metal Multiverse’s End, DC Comics (2020).
Dark Nights: Death Metal Multiverse’s End
Image: Michael Golden/DC Comics

Sep. 29: Dark Nights: Death Metal Multiverse’s End: Perpetua, mother of all existence, has culled all life and creation in the Multiverse, condensing all beings to one planet: Earth-Prime. In her quest for power and dominance, she rules absolutely and in totality, using her children — the Monitors and Anti-Monitors — as her heralds and destructors. But a group of heroes has banded together across multiple worlds in a last-ditch effort to stop her from destroying all of existence: Owlman, President Superman, Iris West, Captain Carrot, Guy Gardner, and others have chosen to make their final stand in a battle they’re destined to lose!


Oct. 13: Dark Nights: Death Metal #4: Official summary and cover yet to be released.


Date TBD: Dark Nights: Death Metal #5, Dark Nights: Death Metal #6, Dark Nights: Death Metal #7, and potentially other tie-in issues.

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