Dark Knights of Steel has been my most anticipated DC Comics series since it was first announced. The cover alone with the DC Universe heroes placed in a medieval setting peaked my interest. What immediately sold me on Dark Knights of Steel was the creative team of Tom Taylor and Yasmine Putri. Tom Taylor is one of my favorite comic book creators and has shown incredible talent in developing a new universe with classic DC Comics heroes that make up his vision for a new DC Universe. How will Taylor and Putri shape the Dark Knights of Steel Universe? Let’s find out with Dark Knights of Steel #1.
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Yasmine Putri
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: As a solar flare destroys Krypton, Jor-El takes a pregnant Lara and place her and himself into a spaceship. Their spaceship is able to leave Krypton right before it is destroyed.
Sometime later the spaceship lands on a grassy field on Earth. As soon as they land Lara starts going into labor. Before Lara can give birth to their baby soldiers riding on horses attack the couple. Jor-El freaks out when he sees the arrows being fired and unintentionally unleashes a massive heat vision blast that wipes out all of the soldiers.
Concerned for his wife, Jor-El hears a baby’s cry. Lara presents Jor-El with their son, who she has already named Kal-El.
In the Kingdom of Storms, King Jefferson (this universe’s Black Lightning) and one of his attendants find a man named Constantine in the middle of a having a vision about Gods arriving on Earth and an awaiting Green Man. Constantine breaks out of his vision and tells King Jefferson he believes they are all screwed.
Ninteen years later, in the Castle of El, Kal-El tries to convince Bruce (Wayne) to let him go on his Bat-Prince mission to capture the Banshee. Bruce says no even when Kal-El brings up how Bruce has the Robins working for on his team. Bruce says he swore to protect El royal family and will not let harm come to Kal-El.
Later, outside the Feist Village, Bat-Prince and Alfred meet up with the Robins Richard (this universe’s Dick Grayson) and Duke (Thomas). Richard and Duke mention that the other Robins are evacuating the inn. Bat-Prince goes to the inn where Jason (Todd) and Stephanie (Brown) finish removing the people staying at the inn. Bat-Prince goes inside alone.
Bat-Prince enters Banshee’s (this universe’s Black Canary) room and immediately wakes her up. Banshee says that she is not in this kingdom to harm the Els. Bat-Prince says that he is still taking her prisoner. Banshee, who states that her name is Dinah, says she is not going quietly. She then unleashes a powerful Canary Cry that destroys a good portion of the inn.
Somehow Bat-Prince survives the direct hit from the Canary Cry. While Bat-Prince is surprised by this Banshee unleashes another Canary Cry in an attempt to kill him. Before she can use her full power Kal-El shows up and covers Banshee’s mouth with his hand. Bat-Prince knocks Banshee out so she can’t attack them again.
Kal-El notices that Bruce is off. Bruce says he is fine and tells Kal-El to bring Banshee with him.
At the Castle of El, Bat-Prince takes Banshee to the prison. On his way their Harley Quinn tries to joke with Bat-Prince but he is as stoic as always.
Later, Bruce and Kal-El meet with King Jor-El and Queen Lara. Bruce apologized for Kal-El being part of the mission to take down Banshee and takes full responsibility for it. Kal-El says Bruce is lying as he went their because it was his choice. King Jor-El and Queen Lara state they are just worried because they want to protect Kal-El. Kal-El reminds his parents that he is invincible and it does not make sense for Bruce and the Robins to risk their lives when they don’t have the same abilities.
King Jor-El asks about the status of Banshee. Bruce says that a Robin he has stationed within King Jefferson’s court learned of a magical assassin being sent after the royal family. Kal-El questions if Banshee is that assassin since there is no proof and they may have just locked up an innocent person. Bruce says Banshee is not innocent given her magic ability. King Jor-El states that he will do what he can to protect his family as they are the last of their people.
Bruce bows his head and says he will continue to protect the royal family. Queen Lara approaches Bruce and tells him to stand as Bruce’s parents were their monarchs and friends so the castle is as much Bruce’s home as theirs.
When King Jor-El states if he had it his way Bruce would be sitting on the throne. Bruce reminds them that the Els are seen as Gods while he is just a bastard. Hearing this pisses off Kal-El. Bruce and Kal-El then get into an argument of the state of the kingdom status quo. King Jor-El stops the argument and requests Bruce take a walk with him
Outside, Bruce admits to King Jor-El that he should’ve been killed by Banshee’s attack but wasn’t. This reminds him how it is not the first time he survived such an attack. He goes on to state that while he swore to protect King Jor-El’s family from magic he fears the Green Man. Bruce goes on to state that he believes he is cursed by dark magic.
In Hobbs Forest, Oliver (this universe’s Green Arrow) has one of his arrows powered by a person wearing a green ring (we only see their hand so not sure which Green Lantern this may be). The Green Man giving Oliver this item tells him to trust the magic in the arrow as all Oliver will need to do is take aim. Oliver then fires the magic arrow a great distance.
Back at the Castle of El, King Jor-El apologizes to Bruce for his belief that he is cursed. King Jor-El then reveals that while what he and Martha did may have been a mistake Bruce birth was not mistake. King Jor-El then confirms Bruce is his son and him having parents from two worlds makes him fit to be a king.
Suddenly the magic arrow Oliver fired hits King Jor-El in the eye. Bruce catches the falling King Jor-El. Bruce goes into a complete rage with his eyes burning red and lightning striking right behind him. End of issue.
The Good: There is no time wasted in kicking starting the Dark Knights Of Steel Universe with bang. From the opening page to the final page Tom Taylor and Yasmine Putri create a world that is both familiar and new at the same time. Finding that balance is what makes Dark Knights of Steel #1 such a massive success.
Starting right out of the gate with a familiar set-up of the destruction of Krypton set the tone for the rest of this issue. Taylor and Putri subvert our expectations after seeing the destruction of Krypton so many times by changing things for Jor-El and Lara to also leave Krypton and fly to Earth along with Kal-El. This major change to what we normally know of this story created more of a sense of mystery of how things will go from this opening sequence.
Adding in how they land on an Earth that is given a medieval setting further drives home how different the Dark Knights Of Steel Universe will be. We see that confirmed with how Black Lightning is revealed to be King Jefferson in this world and ruling over the Kingdom of Storms. Quickly establishing through King Jefferson meeting Constantine in the middle of his vision of Jor-El and Lara landing on Earth and giving birth to Kal-El set the tone for the rest of this issue. We now know that King Jefferson and the Kingdom of Storms aren’t going to be allies to the El family. Instead the Kingdom of Storms will be going after the El Royal Family due to being what Constantine prophesied about Gods and demons arriving on Earth.
Flash forwarding nineteen years into the future was a good choice. There doesn’t need to be a lot of work to establish how Jor-El and Lara would end up becoming King and Queen of their own kingdom. Given the setting their super powers would place them far above all others and be seen as Gods, as Bruce later states. Being seen as Gods would obviously make them the characters all those in what becomes the Kingdom of El accept them on the throne.
Through this Taylor does a lot of great work showing that even nineteen years later Jor-El and Lara aren’t completely comfortable in their royal roles. Even though they’ve embraced being King and Queen their background from what they were on Krypton makes them feel like it would be better for someone like Bruce to have the throne instead. That internal battle within Jor-El and Lara is subtle but well done through both Taylor’s writing and Putri’s artwork.
At the same time, the characters that definitely stood out most in Dark Knights of Steel #1 were Bruce and Kal-El. Taylor and Putri do such a great job establishing the brotherly bond they have right away. Every time both these characters are on screen together there is a vibe that Bruce is the big brother while Kal-El is the little brother wanting to go out on adventures with his big brother. This makes the fact that Bruce and Kal-El are actually half-brothers, as revealed at the end of Dark Knights of Steel #1, even more interesting. With this revelation made by Jor-El there are even more layers to explore the dynamic between Bruce and Kal-El.
This revelation also plays in well with how in this world superpowers are all viewed as a form of magic. From Dinah’s Canary Cry to Bruce believing he is cursed by dark magic, every power is seen as a magical ability rather than something else. This perception of superpowers creates greater intrigue into how different characters will be established throughout the course of Dark Knights of Steel. Especially if Taylor and Putri go the route where every superpower is a form of magic since magic has long been established as a weakness for Kryptonians.
Along with that we do see that not every judgment call is black and white by these characters. As shown by the Bat-Prince and Robins going after Banshee because they believed she was the assassin King Jefferson sent after the El Family. Kal-El calling out the fact that Banshee was not confirmed to be the assassin places greater questions to the politics of this world. Because Banshee certainly has a case for her innocence since Bat-Prince can’t confirm her status as an assassin. In the process we are left wondering what role Dinah’s Banshee will serve in this series now that she has been brought to the Castle of El.
While the Kingdom of El is the main focus of Dark Knights of Steel #1, the brief page revealing that this world’s Green Arrow is working for the mysterious Green Man that Constantine spoke of was a cool reveal. Making the Green Man be one of the Green Lanterns was made more intriguing by the fact his ring does not look like the normal Power Ring. Since it has more of mystical ring look you would see from this type of setting. Which does bring to question if the Green Man’s Power Ring is actually powered by Kryptonite since Oliver’s arrow easily pierced Jor-El’s head. It would make the most sense given that we are dealing with magic rather than cosmic storyline.
Other additions with roles different iconic characters are given in Dark Knights of Steel #1 serve to create even more compelling narratives for this series. The big one for me was Bruce’s Robins being made up of this universe’s Dick Grayson, Duke Thomas, Jason Todd, and Stephanie Brown. There is a tease that we could also seen Tim Drake and Barbara Gordon as part of the Robins since it is mentioned Bruce has others stationed in the Kingdom of Storm. What made this choice to make all these characters working under the Robins monicker work was that Putri designed Richard, Duke, Jason, and Stephanie’s costumes to resemble their Nightwing, Signal, Red Hood, and Spoiler costumes we know them best in. Little things like that make this world feel even bigger and makes me look forward to the designs of other characters.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Tom Taylor and Yasmine Putri waste no time making the Dark Knights of Steel the most compelling comic book series DC Comics is currently publishing. Dark Knights of Steel #1 has everything you could ask for from an Elseworld story. All of our favorite DC Universe heroes are reimagined in fun and interesting ways that fit this world incredibly well. This is definitely a series not to be missed.
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