WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Dark Knights of Steel #1, on sale now from DC Comics.
Dark Knights of Steel is a radically unique take on the DC Universe, transplanting the heroes of the DC Universe into a high-fantasy medieval epic. But instead of initially uniting them as one force under a single banner, it appears that the series will instead pit some of them against one another.
Dark Knights of Steel #1 (by Tom Taylor, Yasmine Putri, and Wes Abbot) reimagines multiple classic heroes — including Black Lightning, Green Arrow, and an unspecified Green Lantern — as enemies of this world’s Superman, and their latest act may have just made a war an inevitability.
In the world of Dark Knights of Steel, the rocket that barely escapes Krypton (carrying the entire El family instead of just Kal-El) lands in a radically different version of the DC Universe — a medieval setting where almost all superpowers are considered magical in nature. Upon landing in this realm, the Els found steadfast allies in the Waynes, lords of the land until their untimely demise. In their absence, the Els have risen up to serve as the new local nobles — with Bruce Wayne (the bastard son of Jor-El and Martha) as the commander of their defenders. The House of El proves to have multiple enemies, however, some of whom are actively conspiring against this fantasy-inspired version of Superman and Batman.
In the Kingdom of Storms, King Jefferson is seen as the lord of his land, seemingly empowered by the same electricity-based abilities that fuel his mainstream counterpart, Black Lightning. Having heard a dire prophecy about the damage that will be caused by the arrival of the Kryptonians, King Jefferson remains a firm enemy of the House of El. The Bat-Prince’s spies alert him that Jefferson is even resorting to assassins to breach their land. This comes as something of a surprise, as Black Lightning is typically a firm hero and ally in most realities. It’s likely he sees his work as a necessary evil against an alien threat — especially when the kingdom is openly opposed to empowered beings such as himself.
While King Jefferson largely schemes from behind the scenes in the first issue of the miniseries, two agents seemingly working at his behest are far more proactive (and lethal) in their arrival. While Bruce and Jor-El speak on the battlements of the castle, Green Arrow is in the nearby Hobb Forest. He expresses some reluctance in his coming actions, but his will is resolved by the words of an unseen Green Lantern, who empowers his arrow with mystical energy. Raising his bow, Oliver Queen shoots an arrow that strikes down Jor-El, just as he confirms to Bruce his true lineage.
It’s a fascinating way to begin the series, as no traditional villains are featured at all. The prophet who warned King Jefferson of the El’s arrival is revealed to be the Constantine of this world, connected to a mystical power. Even the “Siryn” that the Bat-Prince confronts is this world’s version of Black Canary, who is portrayed as a powerful woman who is frightened by the world that has developed around her. There will no doubt be other figures from the DC Universe who appear in the story, but the question remains as to how many will actually be willing to fight by each other’s sides in the coming conflict, or if the battle between the House of El and King Jefferson will remain the primary conflict of the story.
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