Friday, November 4, 2022

Review: Dark Knights Of Steel #8

Dark Knights of Steel #8 came out this week and was another interesting chapter in this mini-series. I have enjoyed this book for its exploration of the DC heroes in a medieval setting with all the trappings that comes with. It was a time when combat settled a lot of disputes. So seeing some of our heroes seem eager to raise their sword hand seems right.

The House of El, The House of Lightning, and the Amazons are about to engage in battle, a war of the three major kingdoms on this world. I have suspected for some time that the real villains of this world have yet to be revealed. Some shape-shifters are out there ratcheting up the tension and lashing out in the guise of our heroes. 

The problem is that this also means that the 'real' heroes are bound to return the violence. This issue ends with a brutal death. But I don't think there are any shapeshifters here. I think who ever is pulling the strings has succeeded in making these different factions kill themselves off. 

Tom Taylor does a good job here with characterization as usual. I love the Harley here. I like Diana and Zala- trying to calm things. And I like the budding romance between Ollie and Dinah. 

Another big win is the art. Yasmine Putri is back on the book and her stuff is just gorgeous. Her panel construction and page layouts really help push the story.  Her battle sequences are fantastic. And she seems to have a good handle on the fashion and mores of the time. Just wonderful.

On to the book!

It has been a while since the last issue. Clark is captured on Themyscira.

The Amazon army has teamed up with the House of Lightning and are marching to the House of El. The war is about to begin. 

And yet, not everyone is on board with this. 

I like Lois here. Ever the investigative journalist. She can feel that something is wrong. The violence has erupted too quickly. Zala is empathetic and loving, not a killer. Maybe it isn't all what it seems.

But Constantine doesn't want to hear it. He saw his king killed. 

You see how whoever is doing this has done it well. John can't take that step back to see the big picture. He is too enraged.

Inside the House of El dungeon, Green Arrow and Black Canary get to know each other. 

Putri draws a magnificent Canary. I would love to see her on a book starring Dinah.

I do wonder how these two will be involved in the finale.

And then came my favorite scene in the book. 

Amanda Waller and Harley Quinn stand in the path of the Amazon and Lightning armies. 

Harley rightly says that every war ends with a small group of people hashing out problems but after a bunch of innocents have died. Why not skip that death part and head right to the ending. Even if these armies outnumber the Els, the Els are flying invulnerable gods. It isn't going to end well. Pretty crazy when Harley, here truly a fool, is the voice of reason! I love that!

Princess Anissa ignores it. She wants to avenge her father and brother.

The construction of that first panel is brilliant. Harley might think she is a big deal, might think she is being logical, but she is basically insignificant to Anissa, barely a tiny head in the borders. I love when art and words come together to complement so well.

And it is more interesting when Constantine again is shown to be the hothead. 

As Waller and Harley came in peace, Hippolyta is willing to leave them alive. But John won't hear it. Before he can cast a fireball spell of some sort, the woods come alive around the armies. Poison Ivy is there to protect her love.

Again, Putri art is just lush and the pages of the forest tearing into the armies are just beautiful. 

The wild card in all this is the Joker/Lex/Green Lantern 'Green Man' who seems to be working for whoever is trying to get this war started. He takes out Ivy allowing the armies to march again.

Could the bad guys be the Guardians? 

I still say it is has to be White Martians.

When the armies roll up to the gates of Castle El, Diana and Zala try again to stop the war from happening. 

This could work. They are the princesses of the opposite sides and in love. Perhaps they can calm things.

I also like how Zala insists that there be no killing. That is a far cry from the 'Zala' we saw kill indiscriminately early in this series. Whoever that was, it couldn't have been the real Zala.

Again, it is Constantine who stops any chance of peace.

Hiding in a nearby wagon, he convinces the resurrected Prince Jacob to use his powers to flood Zala's lungs with water, in essence trying to drown her.

With Jor-El dead and Clark imprisoned, Lara isn't going to just sit there and watch.

Great top panel of the Queen entering the fray. 

And then this ending. Lara bisects Hippolyta with heat vision. Brilliant art by Putri.

This is exactly what the hidden enemy wanted. I am sure this is the real Lara killing the real Hippolyta. But the events that led to this war were manufactured by the hidden enemy. The anger and calls for vengeance that forced Constantine to violence, that caused Lara to murder, were done from the shadows.

No doubt this will put some strain on the Diana/Zala relationship. 

This was definitely a good issue for the series, pushing the plot forward and quickly. There is no more talk about 'will there be a war'. It's happening. But I do hope that the 'who is behind it all' is answered before issue #12.

I have enjoyed this book more than I thought. Really love Harley in this.

Overall grade: B+


Anonymous said...

The series continues to delight. Putri's work is gorgeous.

I agree, that must have been the real Lara.

I wonder if faux-Zala is a version of Power Girl. But could be a Lantern. Whatever it is, I hope the larger power behind all of this doesn't turn out to be the Great Darkness, who is just too busy these days darkening everything else.

Tom Taylor does seem to excel at max-series. I like his Nightwing work, but when you think about it, he's still writing the first arc, almost 2 years later. He wrote one interminably long arc in Son of Kal-El, and the book is now finished. He wrote one long arc in his Suicide Book, and that book then ended.

Maybe he'll eventually crack the code for how to write 6-issue arcs of true ongoing series. Otherwise, maybe it's best for him to stay in his lane of excellent max-series. I'd keep buying them!

There are so many books from DC that aren't reflecting DC at its finest (understatement). Maybe you can count the top stuff on one hand. This is one of the most fun.


Martin Gray said...

Nice one Anj. You have me interested in coming back to this series! Heroes splitting heroes in two isn’t my favourite thing, but I suppose it serves the story! And how great that ‘no killing’ is in play for Diana and Zala. The art oook even better than when I was reading the series!

Anonymous said...

Hello from a french fan of supergirl,

I am back with the return of this new chapter.

I admit to having a doubt for Lara, we have already seen a fake kal and zala, so why not the mother?

I thought we were going to have a change of prisoner with zala and kal but not the death of Hippolyta. it's even worse for the relationship between diana and zala.

Anonymous said...

I share with our host a certain curiosity as to who is setting the war in motion, whoever it is has to be able to deploy a fully
Powered “Pseudo Girl” and there is where I start scratching my head? Maybe I am lending that detail too much weight.
Geez just once can’t Supergirl laugh off someone’s assassination scheme thanks to her invulnerability…just once? For old time’s sake? It seems like as soon as she gets dropped into an elseworld’s type miniseries her super powers get awfully “negotiable”…in DC v. Vampires she is literally depowered luggage, in DCeased she got infected on page two of issue one, remember “Crime Syndicate of America” suddenly her arteries become paper fragile…and here she is being “congested to death”.
Anyone else sense a pattern?

Anonymous said...

She's also getting a little plump. Federici's upcoming depiction:

DC is handling the main continuity character in really weird ways these days: Infected; isolated and dressing as a tulip on the moon; drunk on her birthday; wearing a weight lifter's belt and putting on bulk; and now, fat.

I wonder if DC is positioning her as a diversity character representing the overweight?

We'll see how this develops.