Writer: Tom Taylor
Art: Yasmine Putri, Arif Prianto, and Wes Abbott
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: February 1st, 2022
The appearance of the El’s spacecraft over 18 years ago was a climactic juncture for Tom Taylor’s world of DARK KNIGHTS OF STEEL. And on that very day, a revelation was constructed! However, what prevailed in those early years and how did the House of El come to dominance? If DARK KNIGHTS OF STEEL #1 was any indication, something grim and tragic must have accelerated their rise to power. Let’s dive into DARK KNIGHTS OF STEEL #4 and find out what exactly that was!
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Like it or not, DARK KNIGHTS OF STEEL #4 gives the backstory of this world from the time the El’s landed until the time the Wayne’s died. And truthfully, there really aren’t as many wrinkles or twists to the story as you probably guessed before the issue. Yet, the one aspect of the issue that I liked the most was the fake out from DARK KNIGHTS OF STEEL #1 which assumed that Jor-El killed the Wayne’s and took over the kingdom. Without spoiling too much, that assumption is certainly not the case. However, the biggest reveal (and biggest qualm) from Taylor happened to be from the introduction of Alexander Luthor.
Sorry, spoilers ahead in order to explain the reasoning of my score.
Now, I say qualm as well because I think Taylor’s creativity may have gotten the best of him in DARK KNIGHTS OF STEEL #4. Without spoiling too much, I just feel obligated to explain why I disagree with a decision made by Taylor on this issue. Taylor ultimately introduced Luthor as a corrupt, psychotic, GREEN LANTERN and the true villain of the past and this very issue.
Now, GREEN LANTERN’S have become villains in the past but then normally contort from Green to another Lantern type due to another emotion taking control. I’m personally having a hard time swallowing this sadistic version of Luthor as a GREEN LANTERN. Plus, in prior DC COMIC lore, Lex fit the premise of an Orange Lantern more than Green. And sure, I can see Lex’s Will being incredibly strong. However, I feel his other, more corrupt, more selfish characteristics would outweigh his Will. And thus, the believability of this angle made the backstory a bit too difficult to chew on.
Furthermore, more aspects of the backstory seem a bit off. For example, there is little to no talk about Zara or when she was born. I feel like that should be a huge aspect of the series since she’s become who’s ultimately gone off the deep end. Moreover, another concern I had focused on was the backstory surrounding the knowledge of Bruce’s half Kryptonian genes. Clark and Bruce were talking as boys about flying. Bruce says, “we can’t all fly.” with Clark responding, “I just don’t think you’ve tried hard enough. You should throw yourself off more high things.” To me, I read this as an implication that the boys understood that there was a possibility that Bruce could also fly if he tried harder. And, it felt implied that Bruce has tried before. So, why would he try unless he had an inclination or was at least led to believe he could?
Even more so, how the El’s took over as King and Queen was just… ridiculous and unbelievable. No one was there during Thomas and Martha Wayne’s death other than Alfred to even witness them bestowing their authority and rule to the El’s. Plus, Martha made it sound like the people wouldn’t believe Bruce as King or accept him as a ruler because they knew he was a bastard.
How did everyone else know he was a bastard but not Bruce himself? It all just seemed way too convoluted to make the pieces fit. Furthermore, the story felt different on purpose. It felt like Taylor, after DARK KNIGHTS OF STEEL #1, didn’t want to make the El’s villains anymore for some reason and needed to get them out of that role. Why? It’s almost as if he changed the direction of the entire narrative at the last minute and made this version of Bruce Wayne part Kryptonian as a knee-jerk reaction but couldn’t figure out a way to make it all fit together well. Now, I’m not saying he did that BUT I’m saying that’s how it felt especially after revisiting DARK KNIGHTS OF STEEL #1.
Something just didn’t feel right in this week’s DARK KNIGHTS OF STEEL #4. There were just too many bends and weaves to make the El’s kind-hearted, saviors instead of murderous aliens who overthrew a Kingdom, which is how the story was somewhat painted until this issue. The plot holes and mischaracterization’s in order to make the Bruce reveal fit seemed forced and changed at the last minute without any focus on Zara who’s ultimately the real threat and villain of the story. Yet, she was barely mentioned nor do we still know why she just snapped and went off the rails.
Sure, her father is dead. But Clark didn’t freak out and go on a murderous rampage. Why? What’s different about them? Plus, the Luthor tidbits just added more questions and less sizzle to the narrative. I just feel like the backstory laid out in DARK KNIGHTS OF STEEL #4 ultimately did more harm than good to the overall plot and story that was already strong and effective before. I actually left this issue less excited to see where this series goes and even less interested in the series continuing with another trade after this backstory. Let me know what you think, have a great week, and God Bless!