Dark Knights of Steel #1 – Tom Taylor, Writer; Yasmine Putri, Artist
Ray – 9/10
Ray: Tom Taylor is well-known for his superhero alternate universes, and he has another winner in this medieval fantasy pastiche drawn by Yasmine Putri. We start in a familiar place—with Jor-El and Lara on a destroyed planet planning to save the species. But in a twist, it’s not Kal-El who arrives on Earth—it’s the two of them, just in time for Lara to give birth. When a band of soldiers approaches and takes aim at them, Jor-El fries them with heat vision, and superheroes enter the world hundreds of years earlier. Nineteen years later, Jor-El and Lara sit on the throne, as Crown Prince Kal chafes under their strict rules. Their loyal knight, Bruce, serves the rulers after being taken in by them following the death of his parents.
But for everything familiar, there’s something new and surprising. Jor-El may seem like a good father figure to Kal and Bruce, but his anti-magic laws have a dark edge. Nearby, King Jefferson (Black Lightning) is cast as an antagonist, but is he really the villain here? What is up with those visions that young John Constantine is having? Who is the mysterious banshee that Bruce and his Robins (a merry-men-like group of squires serving under him, with Jason being as chaotic as usual) are hunting? And who is the mysterious Green Man spoken about in hushed tones, who left a horrible mark on the kingdom? We’re being dropped into this story with a lot to catch up on, but it never feels rushed.
And then there’s the ending twist, which took me completely by surprise and may just set Bruce and Kal against each other in a battle for the throne. This I did not see coming, and it’s a genuinely new wrinkle I’ve never seen before in any version of the characters. The obvious comparison here is to Game of Thrones in the DCU, with the complex family dynamics and the anyone-can-die vibe, but I think this has less of a mean-spirited edge. This is Taylor once again taking the characters we know and twisting their fates and origins just enough to give us a completely new take on them. The art is stunning, the story is fascinating, and it’s a great start to what’s sure to be twelve issues of top-tier comics.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.