Review: DARK KNIGHTS OF STEEL #1
[Editor’s Note: This review contain spoilers]
Writer: Tom Taylor
Art & Colors: Yasmine Putri
Letters: Wes Abbot
Reviewed By: Sharna Jahangir
Stunning! Dimension-shifting! This world is absolutely captivating and alluring. Once discovered, you will not want to leave. The highly-anticipated Dark Knights of Steel by Tom Taylor and Yasmine Putri is finally out, and it’s rolled a Nat 20 on charisma. This duo would make the best of Bards, and I’m absolutely in love with this Elseworlds style fantasy arc, and the talent of this team up is one of DC Comics’ most brilliant choices.
This medieval fantasy world pulls off cosmic chaos right from the beginning, as our beloved characters are given new histories. The chemistry between Bruce Wayne and Kal-El is nothing short of beautiful, and the art is a blessing. We don’t deserve Yasmine Putri, but thank Rao that we have her. This a unique and interesting take, filled with Dungeons & Dragons elements, exceptionally captivating to those who are into world-building, and canon divergence played with our beloved Batman and Superman. They open the DC vault as well, with many iconic and fan-favorite characters also making an appearance, and we’ve only just begun. Roll for initiative!
The story. Oh heavens, let me be a southern church-goer and clutch my pearls, because this sent me off into another universe. There are two major twists in this issue that will have you shrieking if you’re a major fan of the World’s Finest team. From the beginning, they talk of the end; will our heroes be able to stop whatever evil or havoc is coming? The creativity in transforming DC characteristics, costumes, powers, and relationships into a fantasy setting is nothing short of genius.
This issue focuses highly on the relationship and narrative between Bruce Wayne and the Kingdom of El, which encompasses our famous Kryptonian, Kal-El. I can’t help but be humored that Prince Kal is trapped in his castle, similar to Rapunzel from Tangled. Like an eager fighter, a rogue, he wants to battle alongside Bruce, but the Dark Knight is assigned to be his protector, and to ensure Kal does not go missing or fall into danger, as there are black magic wielders after him and his kingdom.
The self-doubt Bruce carries and his internal dialogue had me melting. I feel for him deeply, and believe that readers will as well. His self-deprecation carries over, and is very Bruce Wayne, even though we rarely see this part of him in mainstream comics. Unfortunately, as a character that, in canon, suffers from mental health issues, a low sense of self is something that comes along with the territory. Taylor does an excellent job capturing this side of our beloved Bat-Prince.
The Dark Knight brings an intense devotion and dedication, along with some religious allegory, while the Prince brings in elements of magic. The comic greatly inspires your mind to travel, and pulls you into a world of romanticism.
The art is mind-blowing. If fantasy isn’t your cup of tea, collect this series for the art. Yasmine Putri is a goddess amongst mortals with her line work, color, action sequences, and ability to invoke emotion. Each panel is handled with care, there’s attention to detail that only a passionate creator could produce; such as the Bat-insignia within the armor, the redesign of Superman, the Robins, Alfred, Jor-El and Lara. The texture in the artwork pulls you into this universe with ease, which makes this feel like a natural DC Elseworlds.
The hues, tones and saturation used in the art are done with purpose and meaning. When Putri wants to convey softness and peace, she dazzles us. When she wants us to feel pain, she pours in the emotion.
The beautifying of these characters is also alluring. Both Bruce and Kal look like princes, with a softer feel to them, opposed to the muscular, heavy looks we’ve seen in previous stories. Not that those were incorrect, but it’s just lovely and inclusive to see other body styles for these iconic heroes; men given softer features, and eyes with design and emotion. I think this will resonate with many fans.
The supporting characters are incredible. The Robins will cause a smile to run across your face, as they are witty and strong, just as Robins should be. Bringing in characters of color is definitely an important discussion in the world of fantasy. We have great stories in this genre, such as The Lord of the Rings, and although it’s brilliant, it doesn’t feature a single character of color. Often the argument for this is that it is a medieval era, but to that I say, you have a Wizard and a Dragon, you can’t have a few POCs? The idea that people of color are more far-fetched than a dragon in olden times is a silly argument, so bless Taylor and Putri for bringing them in and keeping characters true to their race.
Alfred is a delight, and Harley Quinn’s appearance and her relationship with the young princes is precious. Tom Taylor has mentioned this series will be “queer as heck,” and with his recent world-changing decision on the new Superman, I cannot wait!
It’s queer as heck, my friend. And nothing’s dying here. It will sell just fine. 😊
— Tom Taylor (@TomTaylorMade) August 12, 2021
I loved every section of this issue, so it’s difficult to spot a negative. The dialogue, art, emotions, and story are heart-wrenching and captivating. I found every detail mesmerizing, and am in love with each panel. I believe it will be historical and one of DC’s finest stories. My personal negative is part of a major spoiler, and it’s not really a negative at all. I won’t discuss the details, but there is a dynamic shift between Batman and Superman, which hurts my shipping heart. Taylor did tell us he could not make those dreams come true, however, so we’ll live. I’ll take the relationship-shift just so I can see more interactions between both my favorite characters and watch their connection grow into what it represents — trust… which is something that’s there right from the beginning.
This negative is also a major positive because it will be an interesting dynamic to see them in this setting. It’s happened before in the Pre-New 52 era. They have called each other family, so this isn’t a huge stretch. In addition, the implications of this dynamic, and what it means for Bruce, means that this world will know no bounds. Bring us into the fire and keep us enlightened. After just one issue, this is already one of the best series I’ve ever laid my eyes on.
A critical hit! I can’t wait until the next issue comes out, as we have twelve fantastical months to look forward to! This series has great meaning for me, and I’m sure it will to many others. As a Dungeons & Dragons player, the casting of these characters is mad-fun. Bruce is a Blood Hunter/Paladin; combative, but knows of magic with intense devotion. Kal is a regal Rogue with strength and charisma. It’s a stunning take on our DC playground and the transformations are on point. The Dark Knight and the Kryptonian Prince are a brilliant tea, and the art and action will transcend you.