Queen Lara kicked off the war the House of El have found themselves in with the Amazons and Kingdom of Storms by killing Queen Hippolyta in front of everyone, including Princess Diana. With that there is no turning back in the war that has taken over the Dark Knights Of Steel Universe. With the war now beginning the big question is if any of the participants will learn that they have been manipulated to get to this point. And even if the truth is revealed can that even make up for Queen Lara killing Queen Hippolyta? Let’s find out with Dark Knights Of Steel #8.
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Yasmine Putri
Colorist: Arif Prianto
Letterer: Wes Abbott
In Amazonia, Cassandra Cain, who is one of Bat-Prince (Bruce Wayne) Robins and is sent to infiltrate the Amazons as a spy, sets Prince Kal-El free and gives him the Lasso of Truth to help stop the war.
Over at the House of El Kingdom, Queen Lara takes off after killing Queen Hippolyta. Kal-El comes across his mom flying in the air and is punched by Lara.
Kal-El lands on the battlefield. As soon as Princess Diana sees him she punches Kal-El to begin the battle of the House of El vs the Amazons and Kingdom of Storms.
When the battle rages Green Man (Alexander Luthor) is ordered by his boss to kill everyone on the battlefield.
As the battle grows more chaotic Bat-Prince shows up riding Beast Boy in his dragon form to stop the battle, much to Constantine’s surprise as this wasn’t part of his prophecy. Bat-Prince then confronts Kal-El about the attempt to kill him (Dark Knights Of Steel #5).
Seeing Kal-El’s surprise over what Bat-Prince said Lois Lane questions Constantine about how likely they’ve all been manipulated to go to war with one another.
In the dungeon of the Castle of El, Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance witness Queen Lara kill King Shark. Seeing this Dinah uses her Canary Cry to blast Queen Lara out of the castle.
Queen Lara quickly recovers and charges Dinah and Oliver. Suddenly another Queen Lara appears much to everyone’s confusion.
Alfred Pennyworth yells out to use fire on Lara on the ground. Hearing this Oliver lights an arrow on fire and shoots Lara on the ground. This reveals that the Lara that killed Hippolyta is actually a White Martian. The White Martian quickly flees and uses their invisibility powers to escape from Kal-El and Princess Zala’s attempt to capture them.
Bat-Prince asks Alfred what is going on. Alfred then changes into his true form of Martian Manhunter and reveals that he is a survivor of a war that is not of this world. End of issue.
Dark Knights Of Steel #9 is exactly what this story needed. One thing that has been a concern is that we’ve been led on that something bigger is going on in this universe but after eight issues it never felt like we were closer to what that big thing is. Now the door has been opened to that and it really does feel like we are truly in the next phase of the story after all the set-up.
The further we’ve gotten into Dark Knights Of Steel the bigger the question of why the members of the House of El have made such drastic world-changing decisions. Lara Jor-El killing Queen Hippolyta was the turning point where the answers needed to come soon. Tom Taylor and Yasmine Putri recognize that as used the chaos created by the previous eight issues to make the answers in Dark Knights Of Steel #9 have the maximum impact.
The answer turning out to be the White Martians being behind everything is a reminder of what kicked off the Justice League animated series for the DCAU. Even if it wasn’t inspired by that the way it was handled does give those flashbacks and it’s 100% a good thing. The White Martians are classic DC villains who you expect would pose as various important characters to manipulate everything going on in the world.
Putri’s artwork gets this reveal across with how the White Martian posing as Queen Lara appears and acts. The White Martian knew it was caught and needed to leave immediately. Even using its invisibility powers showed the White Martians still have the advantage even in being caught as they are complete unknowns to all but one person.
This revelation also works into the other big reveal for the hook ending with Martian Manhunter being revealed to be Alfred Pennyworth. Up until now, Taylor has hinted that there is more to Alfred than he was revealing to Bat-Prince. Now we know why Alfred knew more about Kryptonians and other things as he was Martian Manhunter. This opens the door for how the Dark Knights Of Steel can integrate more cosmic elements even with the medieval setting that is normally more focused on magic than what’s beyond the main world it is set in.
Both of these reveals work thanks to how well Taylor and Putri put over the chaos created by the White Martians using the House of El identities. The entire issue shows how publicly killing royalty or taking various key characters off the board created a war where there was no turning back for anyone. Even when Kal-El makes it to the battlefield there is no voice of reason that can be had because of what was believed his family did. Diana’s punching Kal-El across the battlefield while ordering the Amazons to attack showed that. Putri did a fantastic job getting over how we were witnessing a full-on war from both sides.
Making the chaos work even more was that even in making his return Bat-Prince didn’t necessarily change the battle. Bat-Prince simply paused things just long enough so he could confront Kal-El one-on-one. Having the battle continue while Bat-Prince spoke with the confused Kal-El added to how chaotic this entire war was.
Lois Lane using all that chaos to call out John Constantine was also a great move. Because up to this point, it could be said that Constantine is the one most responsible for setting this war into motion with his prophecy. Constantine basically being in the fetal position while in shock that his prophecy has been thrown off made Lois Lane’s point about how they all have been manipulated by an unknown force a stronger statement.
All this now leaves you wondering how the story will shift with the White Martians positioned as the big bads of this story. Characters from all sides have taken major moves that can’t be simply undone. How each Kingdom is able to come together or not should make the final three issues have a lot of great drama and action. And that is all without even wondering how Alexander Luthor’s Green Man and the Green Lantern power ring factor into things.
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
Dark Knights Of Steel #9 delivers the big twist this story needed. Now with the major big bad of the story revealed everything changes for the better. It all set up for the final three issues of Dark Knights of Steel to be even more highly anticipated than before.