Dark Knights Rising: The Wild Hunt
Dark Knights Rising: The Wild Hunt, by Scott Snyder, Grant Morrison, James Tynion IV, Scott Williamson, Howard Porter, Jorge Jimenez, Doug Mahnke, Jamie Mendoza, Alejandro Sanchez, and Wil Quintana, is an action packed romp that builds on the lore of Dark Nights: Metal while also being a fun ride through the DC Multiverse.
The book opens with a retelling of Detective Chimp’s origin. Detective Chimp is on Oolong Island, home of the premiere super scientists of the world, and helping to monitor the Flash, Raven, and Cyborg as they pilot the shiftship Ultima Thule to the Hall of Heroes, where they can hopefully find something to help them stop the Multiverse from falling into the Dark Multiverse and being consumed. Chasing them are Barbatos’s Dark Multiverse Batmen, the titular Dark Knights. The two sides fight, with the Dark Knights attacking the crew of the Ultima Thule. Flash goes to their destroyer to unleash the energy of its positive matter universe engine. There’s a surprising betrayal by one of the Dark Knights and the day seems saved… but it was all a trick engineered by the Batman Who Laughs to use the Ultima Thule as a weapon to destroy the Hall of Heroes. Hope seems lost as the Thule and the Hall collide, but back on Earth, Detective Chimp receives word of help from a most unexpected source.
For a comic worked on by so many writers, nothing about this book seems disjointed, which is both surprising and to be expected. Surprising because each of the creators working on this book have such divergent styles. Conversely, it is to be expected from creators of this caliber. Morrison, Snyder, and Tynion IV have all worked on books with multiple creators and made them work (albeit not together) and this book is no exception. That said, the book’s style is definitely more Grant Morrison-esque and borrows heavily from Final Crisis and The Multiversity. That isn’t a knock against the book. Metal has definitely has a Grant Morrison feel to it, but that might just be because of its use of the Multiverse which heretofore have been Morrison’s exclusive province.
The art for the issue is top notch. Porter, Jimenez, and Mahnke are all at the top of their game. Jorge Jimenez is one of the DC’s rising stars. His art is cartoony and kinetic with a level of detail that lets the emotion of the characters shines through, while also selling the threat of what’s happening on the page, an ability which some artists who draw in a cartoonish style lack. Mahnke and Porter are old pros, but their work in this issue is some of the best either of them have done in years. Both artists have shown slight deficiencies in their style in recently, and those are completely missing here. The three conflicting styles also mesh very well, as each artist is used in places where their respective styles to shine.
Porter draws the Detective Chimp segments on Oolong Island. It’s the quieter stuff, but his line work and detail are perfect and he draws the best Detective Chimp possibly ever. His pencils for Detective Chimp’s origin capture the emotion on an inhuman face, which is no easy task. Jimenez handles the sections on the Ultima Thule as the heroes frantically run to the Hall of Heroes and are attacked by the Dark Knights, perfectly blending the action and suspense of the moments. He does some of his best work on a few scenes of the Ultima Thule as it flies through the Bleed (with a cameo from some characters those familiar with The Multiversity will recognize) and getting attacked by the Wild Hunt. Doug Mahnke gets the to draw the Flash aboard the Wild Hunt. Mahnke has always been a good action penciller, but recently his style has become a little cluttered. The panels here show none of that and are just good, classic Mahnke action and are easily some of his best since Superman: Beyond 3-D. His rendition of the Batman Who Laughs is genuinely frightening one of the best we’ve seen so far.
The issue is packed with surprises, but one which wears a little thin, especially after Metal #5, is the way villains are one step ahead of the heroes. While the Dark Knights are basically a Justice League of Batmen and would conceivably be one step ahead of their foes, that just happened in Metal #5 and it feels a little cheap here. That said, the betrayal of one of the Dark Knights and the end of the book make the whole thing worth the price of admission, especially that end reveal. It’s a moment that is both humorous and awesome at the same time and is also pretty much the most DC thing you can imagine.
All in all, Dark Knights Rising: The Wild Hunt is a great book and a worthy part of the Metal saga. Knowledge of Metal and the DC Multiverse is necessary for it to work, but, for those who have it, it’s a choice buffet. The story works together so well even with so many disparate creators, which makes it an amazing book.