Friday, January 7, 2022

Review: Dark Knights Of Steel #3

Dark Knights of Steel #3 came out this week and kept the pedal down on the progression of plot. This is an interesting Elseworlds, a mix of DCU and something like Game of Thrones, where no one is safe and it seems like characters die every issue.

Tom Taylor certainly has a flair for the dramatic. He effortlessly brings in mainstream DC concepts into this storyline only to remove them almost immediately with death! One thing I can say three issues in is that I have never said 'this book is treading water'. We are a breakneck pace.

One thing that is clear in this issue is that the prophecy stated in the first issue as captions over pages is going to be a major plot point. Not that I mind going back and re-reading but if I had one request it would be that the prophecy get restated in each issue, maybe in an old school 'scroll' text box?

And I have to wonder what Supergirl has done to DC management to have her treated so badly. Yes, I know, this is an Elseworlds AND this is Zala Jor-El (not Kara Zor-El). But the character is the Supergirl analogue and she is villainous. Her body count is growing. Can't I get a heroic Supergirl somewhere?

The art by Yasmine Putri is simply gorgeous. I love the detail she puts into the work. I love the gore she puts into the battles. One thing I love is this cover. The background is an image of Jor-El, killed in the first issue. Doves fly across the cover but one is covering Jor's left eye. That is the eye struck with an arrow, killing him. Blur your vision a little and the dove could be a wound. Nice imagery there.

On to the book.

The issue starts with a green meteor falling from the skies and landing in the Lands of Magnus.

The Batman is sent off to investigate and recover it given that it might be the weapon hinted at in the prophecy which will 'come from the stars'. 

Kal will have none of it. It is funny that he embraces the more scientific Kryptonian side of his heritage despite having been raised here in this magical world. You would think he would have seen enough to know there is more in heaven and Earth than in his extraterrestrial philosophy.

As always, Harley makes a meal out of her moments in the book, making a joke about Krypton's demise. Look at that hand gesture. I can almost see her with a cigar in her hand like Groucho Marx.

The green meteor fell in the Land of Magnus. So who better to investigate in that land than The Metal Men. But here we aren't talking about robots with faulty responsometers. We are talking about a band of knights in different metal armors. That is a pretty nice concept although I wonder how effective armor made from a soft metal like lead would be in battle.

Turns out I didn't need to think too hard about it. 

Because Zala shows up and rather casually and in an animalistic way kills them. Gold gets a hand through the chest like Joker in Injustice. And then the others are just mowed down by Zala. The page coloring Arif Prieto is wonderful growing darker, redder, muddier. 

Last issue Zala killed Jacob Jefferson. Here she kills the Metal Men. She is a villain.

But what was she doing there? Was she investigating the green meteor? Or was this just that she was flying by and saw these knights? We never find out why she is there and what she does before or after this. If we never find out it means this scene was only there to showcase her brutality.

Meanwhile, King Jefferson heads to Themyscira to try and cement the alliance the Kingdom of Storms has with the Amazons. 

Here he reveals that he was behind the death of Jor-El because he recognized how the Els are evil. 

He also says that Zala killed Jacob. Remember, Diana and Zala are a couple on this world. And Diana won't believe it. She thinks the best of her partner. (She must not know the murderous side of Zala in any way.)

Always hard to know how to tease all this out. Jefferson comes across as the victim when Jacob's death was in retaliation to the assassination he planned. He isn't exactly pure here. I wonder how much he blames himself for his son's death.

And Diana's disbelief is also interesting. Perhaps on Themyscira, Zala was more laid-back? 

Based on the accusation against Zala, Diana leaves Themyscira to head to the House of El. 

I liked this exchange between Pierce and Constantine a lot. It shows how cunning Jefferson is. While it is true that Diana possibly could become a warrior for the Els, she was the biggest El supporter on Themyscira. With her gone, Jefferson may have more sway.

Very cool.

And then we see that Zala truly gets around. 

No longer on the ground in the land of Magnus, she is now in the air over the sea, at King Jefferson's ship.

Nice use of 'look, up in the sky' although here it is much more ominous. Zala being so far away also adds to the scariness. She isn't up close and personal. She is distant. That has to be a way to intimidate.

But I also have to wonder about Zala.

So she was in the Land of Magnus ... we don't know why. We don't know what she did other than kill.
Now she somehow knows that Pierce is on this boat? How did she find out about that? Or did she just happen upon the boat?

How is news communicated in this world? This is medieval times.

So Zala just being where Taylor needs her to be for plot points feels a little off.

After Pierce gets a good shot in on Zala, she lands on the ship and kills Jefferson by ramming timber through him. Just brutal.

So why do this here? If she wanted to kill Pierce, why not do it last issue when she attacked his castle? Is it because he is coming from Themyscira her home away from home and she feels affronted again?

I just need Zala to be more than a weapon here. I hope her motivations, movements, and ideas are fleshed out a bit. 

Poor Supergirl. She can't catch a break from any current writer.

No big surprise, the green meteor turns out to be Kryptonite. It effects Bruce as he approaches. 

When it doesn't effect Alfred, they surmise it is because of Bruce's heritage. And we get the promise that next issue we will learn his history. Nice cliffhanger. 

So overall a fast-paced issue with a lot of action. It is hard to get invested in characters as so far no one seems to be safe. I can see the 'trinity' surviving late. But I can't imagine Zala living through this story. (How much should I bet that she gets killed in issue #7, an homage to Crisis?) Some plot jumps seem a bit random, specifically where Zala is and how she knows what is happening. But still quite fun.

The art is glorious. Putri can certainly ramp up the gore when needed. 

Overall grade: B+


Bostondreams said...

The whole 'No more kings' line is...curious...

Anonymous said...

"No More Kings", she didn't say anything about "No More Queens"? Maybe Zala wants The Amazons to Rule the World, her victims have all been male to date (although correct me if I am wrong).
Otherwise she's being used as a crude 50 megaton Plot Device, I am sure her ability to be in the wrong place at the right time will NEVER be explained.
So when the time comes she'll die to either make Kal El's storyline more interesting or Wonder Woman's storyline more interesting, but at the end of the day, three issues in, and Supergirl is in the process of being Fridged...big surprise there.


Martin Gray said...

As I stopped reading this after issue one it’s great to get your recap and thoughts - some great observations here!

Why is the Els’ kingdom called the Land of Magnus? Something to do with the man who forged the Metal Men’s armour!

Given what you tell us about the Supergirl figure, I’m pleased to be passing on this one. As for how she happens to be in the right place at the right time, does she not have super hearing and telescopic vision?

There is SOME hope for Kara in 2022, remember that tweet from Phillip Kennedy Johnson to me the other week, saying he has plans for Kara? That has to be good.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

Yes, no more kings is full of potential. Perhaps she wants a matriarchal world!

The Magnus land is a different kingdom from the Els Mart. My guess is Will Magnus is the Lord of the land.

And yes, hopeful Johnson gets to give us some Supergirl soon!

Professor Feetlebaum said...

I have not been following this series. But going by what I read here, I wonder if Diana will be the one to confront and kill Zala in the end?

Anonymous said...

No Killing Kryptonians is more a Batman thing, I mean effortlessly killing them that is...



Anonymous said...

Hello from a french fan of supergirl,

Now i'm glad it's Zala and Not Kara. We have enought of the veil version of the El Family.

So, Zala is going to die to redeem oneself. You don't have anything more original ?