Dark Knights of Steel kicked off with a hot start as Tom Taylor reimagined the DC Universe in a Lord of the Rings and Game Of Thrones medieval setting. As with the main DC Universe it all started with Kal-El’s spaceship landing on Earth after Krypton’s destruction. The difference with the Dark Knights of Steel DCU is that Jor-El and Lara were also in the spaceship with a baby Kal-El. That change set off a chain of events were characters led different paths in this medieval world as the House of El came to be seen as Gods. But with such a status there would obviously be threats lurking to stop these Gods that landed on Earth. Which is exactly what happened as the Green Arrow of the Dark Knights of Steel world hit the killing shot on Jor-El to end the first issue. What ramifications will this have for the rest of the series. Let’s find out with Dark Knights of Steel #2.
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Yasmine Putri
Colorist: Arif Prianto
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: Inside the throne room Kal-El, Lara, and Harley Quinn hear Bruce Wayne’s screams as he lets out heat beams from his eyes. They go to check on the scream and are horrified to see that Jor-El has been killed. Bruce rushes off, with Alfred Pennyworth by his side, to find the person who killed Jor-El.
Bruce and Alfred quickly track down Oliver Queen. Oliver attempts to fight but is quickly defeated by Bruce, slicing Oliver’s arm holding the bow during the fight. Alfred stops Bruce from killing Oliver so they can find out the purposes of Jor-El’s assassination.
Over in the Kingdom of Storms, Green Lantern informs Constantine that the job to kill Jor-El has been done. When asking about Oliver, Green Lantern tells Constantine the ring told him to leave Oliver.
Elsewhere, King Jefferson Pierce watches over Princess Anissa, Princess Jennifer, and Prince Jacob training to better use their respective powers. Constantine shows up and asks to talk in private.
In private, Constantine informs King Jefferson that Jor-El is dead. Constantine shows hesitance to go by the fears of prophecy by continuing to eliminate the House of El. King Jefferson says they can’t guarantee anyone’s safety, pointing out how anyone with powers has disappeared in the Kingdom of El, with aliens running around in the world.
Back at the Castle of El, General Amanda Waller suggests they go to war in in order to bring those responsible for Jor-El’s assassination to justice. Alfred says they should think things through first, which Queen Lara agrees with.
When Harley Quinn asks Bruce for his opinion on the matter Kal-El speaks up to say it is not Bruce’s decision to make what they do as it is a matter for the El Family to decide on. Kal-El goes to interrogate Green Arrow to find out if King Jefferson is responsible for his father’s assassination.
Alfred tells Bruce that if the Kingdom of Storms and House of El go to war that the other kingdoms will likely get involved.
Over on Amazon Island, Lois Lane informs Queen Hippolyta about Jor-El’s death. Queen Hippolyta says she will organize the council to figure out their next move and would like Lois to attend. Lois says she will but first must inform he princess of what happened.
Over in the Amazon Island training fields, Princess Diana is training with Princess Zala Jor-El. Lois appears and informs Zala that her father has been killed. Zala is left stunned by this news. Diana holds Zala’s hand and says she is here for her for whatever she may need. Zala kisses Diana and then flies off in tears.
After Zala is gone Diana asks Lois if King Jefferson is responsible for Jor-El’s death. Lois says she hasn’t confirmed this but King Jefferson is the obvious suspect which would mean the prophecy they worked to prevent will come to pass. Diana picks up her sword with the understanding this will mean a war between Gods.
Back in the prison cells under the Castle of El, Bruce and Harley try to stop Kal-El from letting his anger get the best of him. Kal-El orders Bruce and Harley to stand aside which they do.
Harley then questions Bruce about the prophecy they heard about coming to pass and tells him to talk to Kal-El and Lara since they listen to him. As they talk Bruce and Harley walk past prison cells that hold Flash, Blue Devil, Aerie, Aquaman, King Shark, and Detective Chimp inside.
Over at Oliver’s prison cell Kal-El demands answers from Oliver. Oliver says that the House of El are all monsters and tells Kal-El to just kill him. Kal-El says that they are not killers.
Back at the Kingdom of Storms, King Jefferson hears a large noise outside his room. King Jefferson thinks it was Anissa but she says it wasn’t her. King Jeffrson rushes to his son’s room only to find Jacob being held by Zala.
King Jefferson orders Zala to put his son down. Zala thinks this is a good idea and flies high into the sky with Jacob. Once she is at her satisfied height Zala drops Jacob as King Jefferson can only watch from a distance his son fall to his death.
Angered by this King Jefferson unleashes a powerful lightning attack on Zala. The attack does nothing but tickle Zala. Zala then flies away satisfied, leaving King Jefferson fall to his knees in despair. End of issue.
The Good: Dark Knights of Steel #2 is a great example of how you move a story with a sense of purpose with rushing things along. This issue is all about making sure the reader continues to be immersed in the world the first issue of Dark Knights of Steel introduced us to. Tom Taylor, Yasmine Putri, and Arif Prianto more than accomplish this.
Something that Taylor, Putri, and Prianto do a fantastic job with this issue is how it feels very much like reading a chapter of Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings. They immediately start off with delivering on the direct impact of Jor-El’s death and move us straight into Bruce Wayne not wasting time in capturing Oliver Queen. The way it was all paced out felt like we were seeing the opening scene before the opening credits started rolling. Capturing that type of tone makes it so the story we are reading has its own sense of being a big event unlike other DC Universe event titles.
The overall pacing from this opening until the very end all works to evoke watching an episode of a medieval TV show. Because we go from that opening to a some calmer moments that give us insight into the weight of the decision to assassinate Jor-El on from the perspective of those responsible. Getting right into the viewpoints of the Kingdom of Storms sets them up as strong antagonists for the story.
What makes the Kingdom of Storms such good antagonists from this set up is that they are not positioned to be villains. Rather, King Jefferson is leading his kingdom with the thoughts of protecting them. The prophecy that Constantine had years ago and how the rise of the House of El confirmed what the prophecy foretold is the main driving force for King Jefferson. Adding in the quick scene of King Jefferson training his kids helped humanize him to show that his actions are backed by the need to protect his family and the people of his kingdom
The important line in all this is King Jefferson calling the House of El aliens rather than Gods. At the very least in this world were metahumans are seen as different forms of magic users there is at least an understanding that aliens exist. This frames the perspective King Jefferson has for his actions in a completely different light as he is viewing the House of El as invaders on Earth.
Establishing King Jefferson in this way creates a bigger spotlight on whichever Green Lantern we see talking with Constantine and Oliver Queen in these first two issue. Because unlike King Jefferson, this Green Lantern is being firmly positioned more in the villainous light with how he is manipulating things. Keeping us in the dark of who this Green Lantern is adds to the villainous mystique around the character as he clearly has his own motives for interfering in the politics of this world. Which all makes it so I wouldn’t be surprised if we are swerved with the reveal of this Green Lantern being someone like this universe’s Lex Luthor.
Getting back to the House of El, Taylor also does an excellent job following up on the reveal of Bruce Wayne being the bastard son of Jor-El and Martha Wayne. Throughout Bruce’s interactions with Kal-El and Lara you can see how he is having difficulty procession what Jor-El told him before his death. The artwork by Yasmine Putri and Arif Prianto does such a great job telling the story of the anger and guilt Bruce has throughout Dark Knights of Steel. There are even moments when you can see that Bruce wants to tell Kal-El that they are brothers but holds him back. Which is credit to the way Putri and Prianto get all this characterization across in the artwork.
This also keeps in line with who we know Bruce to normally be. Which helps to further develop Kal-El’s character as Taylor presents the character as the sheltered prince of Jor-El and Lara. We see that in the throne room scene and interrogation of Oliver Queen that Kal-El is trying to step up as a leader in his father’s absence but is unsure of himself. The brief bursts of anger further emphasize how young Kal-El and that is something we could see play a role in his evolution over the course of this story. Because while he has his moments of anger we do see Kal-El stay in control as he wants to still be viewed as part of the world.
The characterization for Kal-El is made even more interesting by the fact that we do see confirmation of King Jefferson’s fears as the House of El has this world’s Flash, Aquaman, and other metahumans locked up. This development shows that the House of El is not the benevolent rulers they portray themselves when interacting with their inner circle. This is a great use of shades of grey storytelling as there are no innocents in the conflict that is about to happen with the War of Gods that the prophecy Constantine foresaw.
Dark Knights of Steel #2 presenting the kingdom on Amazon Island opens the door to the rest of this DC Universe. We know from Constantine and King Jefferson’s talks that there are multiple kingdoms beyond the Kingdom of Storms and House of El. Showing this through when and how different kingdoms respond to the news of Jor-El’s death is an excellent way to organically grow the scope of the story.
Amazon Island being introduced this early on also helps to establish this kingdom as a key part in the story. And like the Kingdom of Storms and House of El, it is good to see Amazon Island portrayed in a way that fits the medieval aesthetic of this series rather than just like Themyscira from the main DC Universe. The entire presentation of Amazon Island, including how Queen Hippolyta responds to the news of Jor-El’s death, shows that they are more connected to the goings on of this world than in he main DCU.
The reveal that this universe’s Supergirl, Princess Zala Jor-El, is the daughter of Jor-El and Lara and Bruce and Kal-El’s brother was a nice touch to further develop this world naturally. Like her family’s reaction, Zala’s stunned reaction to her father’s death is understandable. Establishing that Zala was in the middle of training with Wonder Woman makes the way she goes about acting the rest of the issue well in line with the presentation of the character. Unlike the sheltered Kal-El, we know that Zala has been trained to be a warrior by the kingdom in Amazon Island. Why Zala was sent to train there adds another layer of intrigue into the story.
This question is made even more interesting with the fact that Zala wastes no time in doing the opposite of what her brother Kal-El does. Unlike Kal-El, who goes to Oliver Queen to get answers for why his father was killed, Zala goes straight to the Kingdom of Storms. Not only does she go to the Kingdom of Storms but she guaranteed the War of Gods has already starting by killing King Jefferson’s son. This action alongside Jor-El’s assassination shows there is no going back in this world. The decisions have been made and there is no stopping the war that is to come.
Zala also being in a relationship with Princess Diana gives even more of a reason why we will see the kingdom on Amazon Island play a key role in the story. Diana at the very least is set up to be a key player as she will likely be on Zala’s side, whichever side that may fall. Which should lead to a lot of interesting interactions whenever we see Zala return to the House of El and talk with her family.
Lois Lane also being established as a spy is a great way to rework to fit in this world naturally while keeping the core of the character intact. This role for Lois also allows her to be present in more scenes even if we don’t physically see her on a panel. Which will help Lois be an important character in the story as her information gathering could play an important role in how things develop over the course of Dark Knights of Steel.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Dark Knights of Steel #2 takes everything the first issue built reaches the next level. The team of Tom Taylor, Yasmine Putri, and Arif Prianto work in sync to develop a world that is full of political intrigue all behind the state of the metahumans in this new DC Universe. The way the characters within the House of El, Kingdom of Storms, and Amazon Island are developed create even greater investment in this world. It all just goes to solidify the fact that Dark Knights of Steel is a comic book no DC Comics fan should miss out on experiencing.
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