Friday, March 4, 2022

Review: Dark Knights Of Steel #5

Dark Knights of Steel #5 came out this week and was another wild chapter in a series that has been incredibly entertaining and intriguing so far. One thing I have learned about this title is that a surprise death or twist is going to happen in every issue. And this one did not break the trend.

Writer Tom Taylor has done an incredible job putting familiar DC characters into this Game of Thrones landscape. Of course, we have to cement them in this new reality which means new wrinkles and different takes. I was sort of depressed when I saw that Zala, the Supergirl of this world, was a vicious killer. Perhaps I should have waited a second. Taylor shows us that I may need to rethink everything. Even questions that I have asked myself which confused me seem to be answered here. It also looks like I have another mystery to solve. I have a couple of theories already.

After last issue's flashback, we are back in the present. Taylor pushes the plot forward as he has with every issue in this series. I mean, things happen at a breakneck pace. And don't blink or you might miss someone dying.

Also, after last issue's great fill-in by Bengal, Yasmine Putri is back on art. The results are typically astounding. The scene in the forest with Poison Ivy, Harley, and Diana is just lush. The fight scenes are powerfully rendered. And we get solid expressive work. 

I am truly enjoying this book, a fun, fast-moving Elseworlds.

On to the particulars.

At the House of El, Zala has returned to pay her respects for her fallen father.

She tells Kal that she stopped first to look for the Green Man, the name for the Jokerfied, Lantern-fueled Luthor.

She needed justice. 

That doesn't sound like the young woman who killed Jacob Pierce, the Metal Men, and Jefferson Pierce. 

Great work by Putri here. You can feel the outrage on Zala's face.

We then skip to Hobb Forest. This was where the assassination of Jor-El originated, with Green Arrow shooting a green-energized arrow through Jor's eye.

The Els aren't taking kindly to that. General Waller wants the forest razed. 

But Harley is here to try and recruit the powerful witch that lives there, this world's Poison Ivy.

Taylor wastes no time in cementing their relationship on this world. Ivy wants Harley to live with her here. And she'll help defend the Els with her forest if Harley agrees to that romantic notion. I thought this scene was flawless.

Doesn't look like Harley is ready to settle down yet, even if I think she loves Ivy. Quinn is too busy being neck deep in the politics and maneuvers of this world. I bet when all is said and done, when this 'prophecy' plays out, Harley ends up back here.

The artwork here is just gorgeous.

Ivy senses someone flying over the forest and brings down the intruder, Diana on a pegasus.

We get a pretty solid fight with Diana swinging giant trees like cudgels and Ivy roping the Amazon in more and more vines.

The whole thing is pretty vivid and kinetic. You get the sense this would be a fight to the death. I love Diana's dialogue about face-crushing. 

And I love the bemused look on Ivy. I think she isn't scared of Diana at all.

But the best think is Harley defusing the whole thing with 'yes, you're both very formidable and intimidating', a sort of inversion of the 'girls ... girls ... you're both pretty' cliche.

Kal and Zala show up, hearing the heated battle from afar.

Diana says she is here to warn Zala about the Themyscira/House of Lightning alliance against the Els. After all, Zala killed Jacob. (It is clear Diana isn't aware of Jefferson being dead too.)

Look at that first panel. Zala is surprised to hear of the accusation. And that looks like real surprise.

As I said, great expressive work by Putri in this issue.

I don't know if Zala is this good an actress. I think she is telling the truth ... hmmm.

It is hard to know if time has passed, but we see Bruce talk to Kal about the death of the Metal Men and the green rock (encased in lead's armor) which weakened him.

With some trepidation, Bruce reveals that he is Kal's half-brother.

But even here I was wondering, didn't we just see Kal over Hobbs Forest?

And then this, seemingly unaffected by the Green K, Kal stabs Bruce.


Great panel with a nice angle from Putri. I love we are looking up at the angle of the shard swooping upward.


Followed by Kal flying the stabbed Bruce into to sky and flinging him Earthward with a 'this is our world now'.

Okay, so let's put it all together. We have Zala who seems surprised she has been accused of killing. I myself questioned how Zala could be everywhere when she went on her killing spree, out in the ocean where Pierce's ship was and following the Metal Men, and flying home from Themyscira.

Now we have Kal at Hobbs forest and somewhere else in the Kingdom. We have him handling Green K and stabbing Bruce.

There is only answer ... these are martians, probably White Martians, imitating the Els to stir the pot and get the super-powered beings on Earth to off each other. (The other thought is these are the Els from Earth 3.)

But now I know why Zala was everywhere before. Maybe the 'real' Supergirl isn't a murderer.

Hmmm ...

Regardless of the ultimate answer, this is a spectacular twist. 

The stabbed Bruce gets picked up by a kind couple passing by ... The Kents!!! They help Bruce to his feet and promise to bring him back to their home to recuperate.

Now that is a fantastic ending. Great little hook, echoing DC history in a new way.

I hope everyone else out there is getting as big a kick out of this book as I am. Seriously, every issue is like a runaway train with wild action, death, and surprises. No wasted space here at all. The art is just glittering.

I remain completely engaged.

Overall grade: A


Anonymous said...

That's a very good theory.

While I think there's a very high probability you are correct or nearly correct, I think Kal does remain near the forest and isn't in two separate places. Grayson reports that he was seen near the forest, and that's where Bruce does find him.

But his statement to Bruce "This is our world now" strongly suggests he isn't of this world.

One reason your theory makes sense is because Taylor already wrote a very long Elseworld with an evil Kal-El, and I don't think he'd want to go back there.

The book looks great, and while it's mostly thanks to Yasmine Putri's work, Arif Prianto's lighting in the forest scene is beautiful.


Anonymous said...

Hello from a french fan of supergirl,

I thought for a moment about Brainiac manipulating the El family, but he's a little too overused as a bad guy manipulator. White martins are a better threat. And now the big question, where is our nice green Martian J'ohn J'ozz ?

Small mention for the cape, Kal and Zala wear a black cape to show their mourning. An echo of the famous black suit?

Anonymous said...

Has to be White Martians, who else would Medieval LUthor team with? Well maybe Supergirl will survive this storyline after all...marry Diana....:)
But this IS DC after all and an elseworlds so my money is Zala getting fridged....


Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

White martians! This time I'm right.

Nice spot of the black capes French Fan! Nice little touch.