Review – Dark Knights of Steel: Tales From the Three Kingdoms #1 – The Young Els

Comic Books DC This Week
Dark Knights of Steel: Tales from the Three Kingdoms #1 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Dark Knights of Steel: Tales from the Three Kingdoms #1 – Tom Taylor, Jay Kristoff, C.S. Pacat, Writers; Caspar Wijngaard, Sean Izaakse, Michele Bandini, Artists; Romulo Fajardo Jr, Antonio Fabela, Colorists

Ray – 9.5/10

Ray: Tom Taylor’s Dark Knights of Steel is on hiatus before its final act to allow the art team to get ahead, but there is so much still to explore in this world. So we get this oversized anthology of three tales from different creative teams.

Taylor teams with Caspar Wijngaard on the first story, which makes up about half the issue. Focusing on Kal and Bruce when they were teenagers—and Zala as a pint-sized super who is much less violent than she grows up to be—it has the brothers investigating the disappearance of one of Kal’s friends, Jimmy Olsen. Growing up in an orphanage, Jimmy was adopted by Perry and Alice White—but then he was abducted by a mysterious bat-like monster along with several others from the orphanage. As the trio tries to track down the monster, we get a better look at the Kingdom, along with some surprising new takes on Penguin, Two-Face, and some other iconic Arkham rogues. This story has a dark twist ending, along with a great reveal that sets up a potential new villain for the next act of the tale.

The great escape. Via DC Comics.

“The Flock” by Jay Kristoff and Sean Izaakse takes place five years before the events of the series, with Bruce and Kal as young men leaving the castle to explore the city—full of adventure and crime on All Hallow’s Eve. But when Harley gets robbed by a band of colorfully-attired orphans, Bruce goes on the hunt. This is a great origin story for the Robins in this universe, Bruce’s band of elite teenage spies, and these pint-sized versions of the fan-favorite characters are a lot of fun. We even get a surprise guest-star from one of Taylor’s most popular additions to the Nightwing title.

Finally, CS Pacat and Michele Bandini take on “The King’s Bane,” focusing on Bruce as a boy. He and his guard are ambushed by Bane—who declares himself a loyalist to the line of King Wayne and views the Els as usurpers. He wants to train Bruce into a killer to help him take back the throne, and Bruce agrees—as part of a much larger plan that it turns out may not have been all that well-advised. This is a great introduction to another iconic villain from the comics in this universe, and given how this universe is going, I wonder if this might be a secret weapon in the making.

Overall, Taylor only writes one of the three stories here, but all three are excellent and live up to the level of quality he’s established for this book.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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