Happy New Year! Dark Knights of Steel has returned with a literal vengeance on the heels of it’s ninth issue. After the bizarre murder of Hippolyta in front of everyone, the three kingdoms descend into violent hysteria. Although, this doesn’t quite address the mounting questions about what kind of evil they are actually facing.
It is satisfying to be able to say I told you so. Nothing makes me want to Cabbage Patch more than knowing my suspicions were right. However, this particular story has finally taken a twist I didn’t see coming. Following the prophesy about demons in previous issues, I surmised the Els had powerful doppelgangers. I even went as so far to believe it could be shapeshifting demons after Etrigan himself shows up. The point is, while the existence of demons is paramount to the story, I barely considered thinking carefully about what or who falls under that description from a medieval perspective. The culprit feels appropriate. For now, why they feel threatened by the metahumans is still a mystery.
Additionally, this issue also features the return of Batman to the main narrative. While not entirely missing, Batman hasn’t contributed to the story much since his near death experience fighting his half-brother. After shockingly similar encouragement from the Kents as found in DC: MECH #4, Batman sets out to make things right in his own way. Equally, Prince Kal has been a prisoner for almost as long. When the two find each other in battle, neither really has the full truth at their disposal. Despite the confusion, it leads to probably my third favorite moment in the series thus far as Batman arrives on the back of Beast Boy’s massive dragon. Although much like Batman V. Superman, much of the fun of the clash is unfortunately lessened by the misinformation.
Speaking of standouts, Yasmine Putri’s layout and artwork is still a magnificent inclusion. The pencilwork is tight and works in tandem with Arif Prianto’s cinematic color palette. One minute readers soar over dramatic sword battles and witness metahumans flair their powers the next. It makes good use of momentum by taking advantage of the angle of its panels and explosively colorful effects to draw the eye. In terms of style, it feels like the book’s setting has been desperately trying to get to this sequence all along. Some of the dullest moments still feel very important and appropriately lit. Best of all, the dialogue is sparse and gives the battle room to breathe.
This week is not beyond closer inspection. Each side is vulnerable to extremely simple manipulation. Tracking the life and motivations of the Green Man through the main series and Three Kingdoms spin-off has yielded interesting results. None of the characters remembered they all hate the Green Man, and only now wonder whose side he’s on. Constantine even looks confused by things, despite being responsible for most of this. Moreover, Diana blindly goes to war with everyone, despite loving Zala and vetting Kal with the lasso of truth. Even Batman charges into battle without too much deliberation. Finally, while I can give Taylor props for hiding Alfred’s secret so long, I don’t think it was necessary. Especially since Batman already had a similar reveal.
- You’ve been hoping they just shut up and fight.
- You’re looking forward to big sword and sorcery clashes.
- Already invested with Dark Knights Of Steel.
The story this week is a visual treat, complete with great layout and decent twists. This feels like what Tom Taylor had in mind when plotting this series from the beginning. Although the ineptitude of the characters is annoyingly convenient, I think the book is very effective. Now that we are close to a big third act turn, I wonder how the characters will handle the new information. Solid issue.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purposes of this review.