If you ever asked yourself, “What would DC Comics be like if everything was set in medieval times?” boy do I have good news for you! A 12-part maxiseries is underway called Dark Knights of Steel and its third issue is out this week. War is nearly inevitable. A knight (Batman) must steer his kingdom and its ruler (Superman) in the right direction. A daughter (Supergirl) is very angry and seeks vengeance for her father’s assassination. In the third issue, even more fall in a great page-turner issue.
This issue opens with Kryptonite falling to Earth. It’s a bad sign for the Els, as King Jefferson seeks to destroy them all after his son was murdered by Supergirl. He did kill Jor-El–and really you can’t go around killing people not expecting a response–but new tidings and alliances must be reasserted.
What’s fascinating about this issue is how it juggles the usual dramatic meeting of leaders and ruminations of the courts and makes them edge-of-your-seat entertainment. Much of this issue is devoted to Jefferson seeking to ensure his alliance with the Amazons is maintained. As they meet, we the readers know what has happened with Wonder Woman’s girlfriend Supergirl, which makes for some entertaining anticipation. Since we’ve only just met the Amazons, there’s the added drama of not knowing who Wonder Woman’s mother will side with.
Meanwhile, Kryptonite has fallen to earth and Batman investigates. With the knowledge that Batman is actually an El, the story heats up in the last few pages and promises even more revelations for the next issue.
All this while Supergirl zips around killing with impunity. Losing her father has seriously set her off, which is conveyed well by the ultra-violent artistry of Yasmine Putri. It’s funny to think of a time when seeing an entire arm go through a person was banned in comics–even though a “rnnch” sound effect covers most of it–and this book doesn’t hold back in that regard. Clothing is particularly well rendered, with great lighting by color artist Arif Prianto. The use of shadow on faces, which seem to have the perfect amount of believable, real emotion, adds a lot of drama to any given scene.
Something this series has going for it is how fast it moves the plot along, with major developments on every page. There are some serious deaths in this issue, and we’re only a third of the way through the series. This does make some of the characterizations feel surface level at best, however. We’re never inside a character’s head long enough to gauge who they really are, although Putri’s art does do a lot to connect you with characters at the moment. A single panel of Jefferson could convey a man rethinking all his decisions, or in another blindly ignoring them to allow his rage to shine through.
Dark Knights of Steel #3 continues to be a hell of a good time. It not only moves at a fast clip, but it doesn’t hold back with character reveals, deaths, and the like.
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