It’s been a while since we’ve had a new issue of Dark Nights: Metal, since the crossover event took a brief break in November for the launch of Doomsday Clock. But Greg Capullo and Scott Snyder are back this week with the fourth installment of the series, as if to say that not even skipping a month could slow the momentum of their heavy-metal and deep-continuity fueled story.
Dark Nights: Metal has an editor’s note that consists entirely of a hand throwing up rock horns. It also has a very small fish who takes its job, and Aquaman, very seriously. But what’s most consequential for the DC Universe is the issue’s an expansion of its creation story, from the mouth of none other than Dream of the Endless, the protagonist of Neil Gaiman’s timelessly enduring The Sandman.
Dream’s cameo in Dark Nights: Metal #1, all the way back in August, was the first confirmation that The Sandman was still considered to be a part (if a distant one) of the DC Universe. He appears to come back to the comic now at what might just be the turn of the tide.
“I can give you the most powerful weapon in all of creation,” he tells Superman and Batman.
And that story adds a new level of complexity to the creation of the DC Universe.
Creation stories are weird — in comics, they’re even weirder. DC readers have long known about the Monitor and the Anti-Monitor, the matter and Anti-Matter universes. Dream’s story introduces a third cosmic being, a forgemaster of universes made of potential, possibility and imagination; universes made of dreams and nightmares.
The master of the World Forge hammered the multiverse into shape — the stable worlds rose to become part of the multiverse, while the unstable ones were given to the Forger’s Great Dragon to destroy them and return their energy to power the Forge.
That Great Dragon rose to kill the Forger, becoming the dark god Barbatos, the ultimate enemy of Dark Nights: Metal. The unstable worlds are the origin place of the Nightmare Batmen that have terrorized Earth over the course of the series.
Now it’s up to Batman and Superman to return to that ancient Forge and discover if it has truly gone out — or if there’s still a literal spark of creation left that could defeat Barbatos and his minions.