Monday, February 7, 2022

Review: Dark Knights Of Steel #4

Dark Knights of Steel #4 came out last week, a flashback issue to give us some background into The Batman's history. I have been enjoying this book much more than I thought I would. So far it has been a wild ride. Death every issue. Politics a plenty. And some new takes on classic characters.

Writer Tom Taylor continues to push this title forward with this issue. I had some theories about where this book was going and as usual, I was wrong. I thought for sure Taylor would make Jor-El a bit vile. Instead he remains mostly virtuous. I have to say the reveal of who the Green Man is has been the only sort of misstep I have felt so far. We shall see.

Old Supergirl friend, artist Bengal steps in for Yasmine Putri. Given that this is mostly a flashback issue, the artistic change works. Even when this is in a trade, the switch will flow well. I think Bengal has a great smooth style. His work here is great. I love the warmth he brings to characters. And while I haven't been getting the variant covers here, I couldn't resist this Joshua Middleton take on Harley. Fantastic.

On to the particulars!

Last issue, Bruce fell ill to Kryptonite. Realizing he isn't human, Bruce laments being a monster.

Thankfully Alfred is there to give him some wisdom. Not everything different is evil. 

You can imagine that Bruce's life has been put through the shredder. Everything he has believed is a lie. 

Alfred decides to give Bruce a history lesson.

There seemed something unseemly to me about Jor-El being Bruce's father, the Waynes dying, and the Els taking over. I thought for sure I was going to get another take on an evil Jor. I even thought he might have arranged the Wayne's murder.

Instead we see that when the Els crashed they laid low. They set up in an isolated cabin and listened and learned the world's culture. But they wanted to stay in hiding. 

It has become pretty clear that they could have taken over the world pretty easily. But instead, they just tried to live a simple quiet life. Interesting.

But then they stumble across a volcano about to erupt, an explosion that would destroy the nearby Wayne kingdom. 

They can help the kingdom survive, and so donning a domino mask, Jor-El enters the castle to relay all his information and plans to the Wayne's advisor ... Lex Luthor.  But Lex is too proud to listen.

The image of Jor-El in a Zorro like mask was a great image. And Jor-El trying to save another world makes good sense, a second chance. Still, I wonder why the Els didn't just surreptitiously reroute or drain the volcano rather than ask the Wayne realm to build walls and moats.

It becomes clear that Luthor never gives the information to the King. With no time left, the Els have no choice but to reveal who they are and what they can do. Shrugging off arrows and spears, they show they are invulnerable.

But in a complete Donner-esque moment, rather than grab control, Lara says the Els are friends. 

Look at the face by Bengal. You immediately trust Lara. 

Love the dialogue and the art. Perfect complements.

Flying off, the Els divert the explosion of the volcano, saving the Kingdom.

As for Luthor, he is drummed out of court. At the site of the volcano, he see something come out of the magma, green and coursing with power.

I suppose we have seen many DC characters represented in this world so seeing Lex here shouldn't have come to a surprise. 

The Els are considered heroes and embraced by most everyone (although we see that Jefferson Pierce immediately has his worries).

And then the indiscretion.

Per Alfred, it was a one time thing, the sort of things that fallible humans do from time to time. And both Martha and Jor-El had to face their loved ones.

A one time dalliance sets up the Bruce as part-Kryptonian subplot. I guess it keeps Jor-El as mostly upstanding. At least he confesses his infidelity. But it comes and goes so fast. I suppose I would have liked to see more of how the passion simmered.

I love how Thomas is initially vexed by the whole thing but comes to love Bruce as his own. It softens the King's heart.

Everyone seems to know that Bruce is a bastard child. But the King doesn't seem to care.

And I do like that the boys are sort of immediately best friends, this World's finest.

Of course, for this to run its course the Waynes need to die.

And what better person to do that than a Joker-fied, insane, Green Lantern ring wielding Luthor.

I am so sick of the Joker that I was sort of let down by this reveal. And what an amalgam - Luthor, Joker, and the Green Lantern? Insanity.

Lex blasts the Wayne's carriage. 

Dying, Martha asks Lara to raise Bruce as a son. No one will accept him as King now. So Martha cedes control of the Kingdom to the Els. 

So know Bruce knows the whole truth. 

This issue definitely filled in some of the blanks. I really thought the Els would be the backdoor villains of the piece, especially given the 'prophecy' we have heard. So seeing them as inherently good and not greedily grabbing power by executing royalty was a bit of a surprise. Not a bad one mind you. 

I also thought that the Els' villainy would easily set up a Batman v Superman plot. Instead, it is clear 'The Green Man' is the big bad here.

Tom Taylor is definitely giving me what I need here, not what I wanted. Add to that the very pretty art and I am still on board.

Overall grade: B+


Anonymous said...

When the kids are playing up in a tree, Lara calls out to them, and the daughter gets called Zara. Is Zara a typo, or was the Zala name wrong previously? Or is this deliberate and we don't know what it means yet?


Anonymous said...

Semi consensual medieval adultery, a groundbreaking first from DC Comics...:) I am reading this mini & waiting for to disappoint me and or break my heart...its just a question of when not if.
Ghod it just doesn't matter where or when he shows up, but as soon as Batman walks thru the door they have power him up as a credible challenger to the nearest Kryptonian, this time they made him half kryptonian, which I find hilarious & ironic.