Dark Knights of Steel has been a surprise hit that delivers incredible twists, turns, and a great melding of concept with familiar characters. It’s a surprise simply because the concept on paper wouldn’t work from most creators: toss the entire DC universe of characters into the medieval era and see what that means when godlike figures come to Earth. Dark Knights of Steel #5 is out this week, closing in on the midway point of the 12 issue maxiseries, but as we used to ask here at AIPT in every review…is it good?
The issue opens on the Kingdom of El where Clark and his sister Zala mourn their father. Writer Tom Taylor and artist Yasmine Putri show us a very different Zala than we’ve seen before. In the last few issues, she’s been on a rampage killing people left and right, but here she’s different. There is no blind rage, but a girl seeking justice as if she didn’t just bring violent justice to many lives.
Cut to Harley Quinn, who is seeking Poison Ivy to ask for help for the El family. Harley is the El family jester and she soon learns it’s not very funny entering Ivy’s forest. Customary of this series, Taylor imbues these characters with traits that are familiar and the norm in current continuity–they seem to have a romantic relationship of a kind here–and yet their roles and motivations are far different. This leads to the issue’s first confrontation, but it’s far from the last.
Putri’s art is stellar in this issue, especially in the Ivy/Harley scene. The use of shadows on their faces adds another level of realism which is likely thanks to Arif Prianto’s colors. The play of light throughout the issue is quite something, adding a warm glow to scenes like the opening or Batman’s mask in a later scene. In one scene, a green glow actually foreshadows what we’ll see on the very next page, which is a fantastic detail.
Costuming is also fantastic, particularly Wonder Woman’s which has tied rings on her arms and off her tiara. We get a look at Nightwing’s costume too, which is subtle and a throwback to his blue wing design.
If you’ve been enjoying the many twists and turns, you’re going to love this issue as well. I won’t give it away, but the last few pages will take you by surprise — Taylor has the audacity to drop a seemingly subtle detail on the final page that works so damn well with where we leave these characters. The entire series has more or less stuck to who these characters are, but there are changes that end up feeling monumental because of that. Zara and Wonder Woman are together, for instance, or the fact that Batman’s dad is Jor-El.
At this point, it’s obvious the pace of this book is in no rush. That’s what it’s going for, and probably why it’s a 12 issue maxiseries, but even with big shocking twists and good character writing, you put this book down and wonder how much actually happened. It’s a blessing and a curse since it’s still so damn entertaining, but it can also make you wonder if you should have waited to read this book in the collected format.
Prepare yourselves, Dark Knights of Steel fans, as Taylor drops another bombshell on readers, Putri draws you in with incredibly beautiful art, and the addictive series rolls on. Pound for pound, this is the prettiest superhero book that also happens to elicit the most gasps per issue.
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