Friday, June 9, 2023

Review: Dark Knights Of Steel #11

Dark Knights of Steel #11 came out this week, the penultimate issue of this mini-series which I have very much enjoyed. Writer Tom Taylor has really done a good job of putting together this world, a pastiche of Dungeons & Dragons and the DCU. In 11 short issues, he has stuffed a lot of characters into this world and they feel both iconic and new. That's what Elseworlds should be.

I have to say that Tom Taylor sort of fascinates me. I loved his All-New Wolverine.  I really like this book. I think his Nightwing is a solid book. But his Jon Kent books are not good. And I am avoiding his Titans. Usually I find creators who are 'sure things' and he seems to be batting .500. This review will be glowing. Next week's Adventures of Superman Jon Kent #4 won't be. I guess no one bats 1.000.

Here, Taylor sets up next month's finale very well. But just when I thought I knew all the there was to know heading into the conclusion, Taylor throws one more curveball. And it was one maybe I should have expected. Great cliffhanger and surprise.

Yasmine Putri is on art again and it is lush. I have talked about the excellent expressive work here but the Harley in this book is too precious. Here Harley is the perfect 'court jester who is the smartest person in the room'. But the action is solid too. This issue is mostly a set-up for the upcoming battle so there are a lot of scenes of people talking. But Putri makes it look good. Add to that a Dan Mora cover showcasing these versions of the character and this issue's art is a big win.

I will be sad to see this series end although there is enough world building here to easily do a sequel.

On to the particulars.
Last issue, the White Martian invasion was exposed. The El house, the Lightning house, and the Amazons all stopped their war to unite against a common foe. At last humanity seemed to be together. But a war is still on the horizon. 

The opening scene has the advisors for those groups together in a room, without the royals, making plans. Cunning, deceit, imagination, and @#&$%. I love that Harley, Lois, and Constantine are the clever minds who help guide the politics of the land. I love that Harley does it behind the face paint, using humor and pointing out when the emperor has no clothes. I really like this mini-Illuminati.

It also was revealed to all that Bruce is Kal's half-brother. 

Of course Kal is going to be thrilled by the whole thing. It isn't awkward at all. These two were best friends. Kal thought of Bruce as his brother anyways. Anytime 'Superman' is shown to be loving, forgiving, and kind, it will work for me. Look at that smile in the last panel. Perfect.

I don't need Batman and Superman to bristle at each other, or have begrudging respect. I want them to be friends, brothers-in-arms, or here actual brothers.

But Bruce also knows that the White Martians have a huge meteor of Kryptonite and they can make weapons with it. 

The Els have always been unstoppable. But in this war, they are just like everyone else.

I do wonder if this was a needed plot element. There are 3 Kryptonians and one half-Kryptonian on this planet. There is a whole squad of White Martians who we know are quite powerful. Would that be an even enough match? Or did we need a chunk of Green K to balance things.

Regardless, this is Chekov's Kryptonite sword. Someone ain't making it out alive. So is it Zala (always historic for a Supergirl to die) or Lara? I can't imagine Kal is killed. 

Last issue's other revelation was that Alfred was actually J'onn J'onzz. Knowing that he could provide info, White Martian leader Protex decides to find J'onn and silence him. I will remind you, Protex also is sporting the Green Lantern ring he took from Luthor last issue. A White Martian with a Kryptonite sword AND a Green Lantern ring? He's a legit threat. 

Of course, rather than just do the job, he has to gloat like a villain first. We don't know how long these Martians have been there but it is interesting to hear they were monsters, myths, and legends. Surprising they didn't simply take over before the Els arrived.

But since he decided to monologue, J'onn can reach out to Kal and Bruce who drive Protex away.

With fire being the easiest way to defend, we see how the humans get organized. Everyone has a torch. No one walks out alone. The moats are filled with pitch and lit on fire. 

I think I just want a solo book of this Harley. Poison Ivy arrives with the dead trees from her forest to use at fuel. But she won't allow the live trees to be cut down.

Harley's deadpan response made me chuckle. 

Give me a Harley one-shot to warm up for the inevitable sequel!

Bruce ends up coming to terms with J'onn posing as Alfred all these years. 

Draped with the magic lasso which compels truth, he says that he knows who J'onn is and is grateful. 

In fact, this leads to a major epiphany. Bruce heads into the dungeon and releases all the Metas he has imprisoned down there (not actual criminals, just those he locked up because of their abilities). He'll need all their talents in this war.

In a great moment, Kal forgives Ollie for killing Jor-El. Everyone was being manipulated. No one is to blame.

Not everyone is on board with the unification of the human armies. 

Amanda Waller, Lara's military chief, is still upset. After all, her soldiers were killed by the Amazons and House Lightning. She still wants war.

I love Harley's response ... again the fool just dropping truth. Who would want war? She even sort of shows up Waller by saying that the Queen has made her decision. 

It is strange to me that Waller has basically become a villain everywhere. And we aren't done yet.

Everyone knows that there is only so long that actual fire can be stoked. So we need a deus ex machina

I don't know if any DCU doo-dad has been more overused in the last 10 years than the Phantom Zone projector. But here we are. 

As I said, Waller is a villain.

She waltzes into the White Martian camp, protected by some spell of protection which immolates in Hellfire a White Martian who tries to attack her. 

She has a deal with Protex. And she wants him to hold up his side of the bargain. 

She can't think she can overpower the White Martians. I wonder what deal she cut. And what would stop Protex from killing her after the deal. Is she so intent on the House Of El being the sole power on this Earth she is willing to betray everyone else? Is she making a powerplay of her own? 

Hoo boy! A new wrinkle at the end of issue eleven! I loved it.

It sound so simple. But an entertaining story and beautiful art makes for a great comic! It's that simple of a recipe!

Overall grade: A

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh so Amanda Waller is the traitor? This "Medieval JLA" story was none too creative but boy howdy DC Sure knows how to drag out sheer mediocrity. It's the unending miniseries I feel like I've been reading it for two years now...