We took a bit of a detour in the previous issue of Dark Knights of Steel as Tom Taylor dug into the backstory of this DC Universe as we learned the truth about Bruce Wayne being the bastard son of Jor-El and Martha Wayne. Now with Bruce knowing the truth about his origin how will he handle his relationship with Kal-El and Lara-El? On top of all that we still have the War of Gods that has been prophesized in this universe that is about to begin between all the Kingdoms. Let’s see what happens next with Dark Knights of Steel #5.
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Yasmine Putri
Colorist: Arif Prianto
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: In the Kingdom of El, Kal-El finds his sister, Zala Jor-El, standing by their father’s casket. Zara reveals she has been searching for the Green Man. Kal-El says they will find him together.
In the Hobb Forest, Harley Quinn meets with Ivy, known as the Lady of the Forest, to inform her that General Waller intends to burn the forest if Ivy doesn’t join them in finding who killed King Jor-El. While Ivy does not like the Els she agrees to help because she can’t turn down any request from Harley Quinn.
Ivy senses Princess Diana presence and immediately captures her with some vines. Diana breaks free but is quickly caught again by even more vines. When asked by Harley what she wants Diana says she is looking for Zala to find out the truth about the accusations against Zala.
Zala and Kal-El suddenly appear and they are able to get Ivy to release Diana.
Later, meeting alone, Diana reveals that Zala is accused of killing King Jefferson Pierce’s son. Zala has no memory of this and believes that accusation is being made to tear them apart. Zala tells Diana that the world needs them together on the same side in the coming war that is prophesized.
Back in the Kingdom of El, Bruce Wayne returns and learns where Kal-El is from Dick Grayson.
Going alone, Bruce meets with Kal-El to show him the Kryptonite metal, which Bruce has wrapped in lead armor, they discovered. Kal-El wonders why the Kryptonite had an effect on Bruce. Bruce reveals that he has learned the Jor-El is his father.
Immediately after hearing this Kal-El stabs Bruce with the Kryptonite. Kal-El proceeds to fly Bruce high into the air while saying “This is our world now. Ours to rule.” Kal-El then tosses Bruce with tremendous force towards the ground, leaving the Kryptonite in Bruce’s gut. Kal-El then flies away, leaving Bruce to die.
Sometime later Jonathan and Martha Kent discover the dying Bruce in a crater. Jonathan removes the Kryptonite from Bruce’s gut. The farmers then take Bruce back to their farm to recover. End of issue.
The Good: We get back into the present-day events with a set-up for the midway point of the story being done in Dark Knights of Steel #5. Tom Taylor and Yasmine Putri did this by developing more of the protagonist of this story while possibly setting up Kal-El to play a role like Regime Superman from Injustice.
Getting to the big twist ending right away, I’ll fully admit I was not expecting to see Kal-El make a villain turn in Dark Knights of Steel. When that moment happened the shock and hurt that was in Bruce Wayne’s eyes was something that was really felt. It was just so unexpected and really did leave you asking “Why Kal-El?” while Kal-El flew Bruce up and dropped him to drive home his villain turn.
What makes this villain turn for Kal-El even more intriguing is the scene that preceded it between Zala Jor-El and Princess Diana. In this scene we learn that Zala has no knowledge of killing King Jefferson Pierce’s son, and likely not killing King Pierce as well. The way Putri drew Zala’s reaction to what Diana told her does make you want to believe it.
The honesty behind Zala’s words is backed up by how she didn’t tell Kal-El that she already killed King Pierce in retribution when they reunited. Given how we’ve seen Zala act in the previous issues this is something that she wouldn’t hold back telling Kal-El or Diana. That may all be part of Zala’s planning as she knows her actions would wipe away all doubt that we weren’t headed to the prophesized War of Gods.
Which brings us back to Kal-El’s villain turn. The way it, and Zala’s previous actions, have been handled those point to more going on then what we are led to believe. Especially since we are in a world where magic is an even bigger focus and knowing the psychopathic Green Man is out in the world it wouldn’t be surprising if the Green Man isn’t involved in someway. Especially considering the Green Man is the Dark Knights of Steel Universe version of Lex Luthor and Joker finding out he has some involvement in Kal-El and Zala’s actions wouldn’t be surprising to find out.
Because of what both Kal-El and Zala have done so far it’ll be very interesting to see what Bruce and Diana both do. Taylor does a great job positioning both characters in different ways to play key third party roles in the coming war. With Bruce, he is left alone now having to carefully consider how he will come back from being betrayed. While Diana will have to sort out how she feels about fighting against her mother and the Amazons and the reality of what Zala has done.
The other party that was set-up in Dark Knights of Steel #5 is this universe’s version of Poison Ivy. Taylor does a very good job at showcasing Ivy’s place in the world as the Lady of the Forest. Seeing her not back down to fighting Wonder Woman quickly elevated her as one of most powerful characters in this series. Adding in the dynamic between her and Harley Quinn works well with their well-established dynamic in the main DC Universe that humanized Ivy, as she is otherwise detached from the people of this world.
All that said, Putri steals the show with her with her artwork throughout Dark Knights of Steel #5. From the reunion between Kal-El and Zala to the heel turn by Kal-El this was a great looking issue. Putri especially handles the character reactions extremely well. As we got scenes with different pairings Putri was able to show what type of relationship each pairing had through the way they reacted to each other. Her artwork for the two big action sequences of Ivy vs Diana and Kal-El tossing Bruce like a rag doll drove home how serious each character was during these sequences.
The Bad: Once the shock of Kal-El’s heel turn settled down it is disappointing to think that we are possibly in store for another story where Superman, and the entire Superman Family, is positioned as the villain of the story. This just feels like territory that isn’t fresh or new anymore for DC Comics. Now I do have confidence in Taylor’s ability to tell a compelling story around what is really going on with Kal-El and Zala but I would by lying if I wasn’t a big disappointed by getting another version of Regime Superman moving forward in Dark Knights of Steel.
From a story side of things it was odd that we have now gone two issues without seeing how the Kingdom of Storms, Land of Magnus, or Amazons reacting to King Pierce and the Metal Men deaths. Those were major events that should be addressed by the other side of the conflict. This series being twelve issues is not an excuse for not even one scene of how others outside the Kingdom of El are reacting to events in the first three issues. Especially this early on in the story Taylor and Putri risk losing the readers investment in the characters we’ve barely gotten to know in the other Kingdoms compared to how much time we’ve spent with Kal-El, Bat-Prince, Zala, and Diana.
Overall: Tom Taylor and Yasmine Putri do not hold back delivering big surprises in Dark Knights of Steel #5. While the biggest surprise of this issue may upset certain fans the consequences coming out of what happened have me invested in how the characters of the Dark Knights of Steel Universe will react.