‘Dark Knights of Steel no. 1’ makes it’s medieval debut with some crazy twists

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD 

When it was announced that comic writer Tom Taylor (“Superman: Son of Kal-El,” “DCeased,” “Nightwing”) was going to pen the series “Dark Knights of Steel,” something told me that I had to read this story. Something also told me that I was going to be in for a treat. 

And sure enough I was. 

“Dark Knights of Steel,” is not just a retelling of the origin stories of our favorite heroes and villains of the DC Universe in the vein of a medieval epic like “Game of Thrones.” In some ways, it is a story about family. In other ways, it is a story about a sinister conspiracy involving kingdoms. I feel that it is also a story about one man’s birthright and another man’s revenge. 

When I read this “Dark Knights of Steel no. 1,” there were several twists I did not see coming. 

Property of DC Comics

The first twist is when Taylor takes us back to the fateful moment of the planet Krypton’s doom. We see Jor El and his beloved wife Lara, the parents of Superman, lament their planet’s impending destruction. You know how this story goes: the rocket ship blasts off from an exploding Krypton and it ends up on a grassy field on planet Earth. At this point, you’d think that this is where Jonathan and Martha Kent come into the picture to see a little curly-haired boy, who would become  Earth’s greatest champion, stretching his arms out to them in a loving gesture. However, we see that Ma and Pa Kent are nowhere to be found and even more surprising,we see that Jor and a pregnant Lara are the occupants of the crashed spaceship. And what is even crazier is that Lara is about to give birth. Jor-El, notices a group of knights on horses surrounding him. As Jor-El tries to get help for his pregnant wife, the knights shoot their bows and arrows at him and suddenly, he kills the assailants with his heat vision. After that,Jor El and Lara welcome their son Kal-El to the world that they now call their home. 

19 years later, the Els would establish their own kingdom alongside Thomas and Martha Wayne (a king and queen who would mysteriously die leaving their son Bruce an orphan). Both  Kal-El and Bruce would become princes of the Kingdom of El. However, not everyone is happy to welcome the family of strange visitors from a dying world. Hence comes the second twist. 

The El’s arrival is foreseen in a doomed  prophecy by a young John Constantine and King Jefferson (aka Black Lightning). King Jefferson’s fear that the Els would take over the world causes him to send assassins who wield magic to assassinate them. This causes Jor and Lara to outlaw magic and forbid Kal from accompanying the Bat-Prince Bruce Wayne on his mission to fight the magic wielders. 

Prince Kal-El, like his original counterpart that we know and love, is always eager to help much to the annoyance of Bruce. We see that he has a sense of justice and holds all life (innocent or evil) sacred. This is shown when he questions Bruce and his father on how to treat the captured Banshee (Dinah “Black Canary”Lance). While he seems to be a bit of a boyscout,  he also has a bit of a chip on his shoulder as he brushes off the fact that Bruce is only an orphan when Jor El suggests that the Bat-Prince sit on the throne. When I read the interaction between Kal and Bruce, I saw that Kal may see Bruce as a rival for the throne since it is his birthright. This brings us to the third twist which involves Bat-Prince.

Property of DC Comics

Bruce the Bat-Prince is every bit as Batman as Batman can be. He is stoic. He is as Harley in this universe would put it “ dark and brooding.” And like the original Batman, he has help in the form of his trusty friend (and occasional servant) Alfred and his “Robins” (Dick, Jason, Duke, and Stephanie). And comes the twist that drops the bomb: Bruce Wayne is a product of a tryst between Jor-El and Martha Wayne. That’s right, Jor-El reveals to the shocked readers and Batman that the Dark Knight is his son which makes him Superman’s Kyptonian-Human hybrid half-brother in this universe. And while Bruce is  processing the revelation, Jor-El is assassinated by Green Arrow and the “Green Man” (Green Lantern) which causes a grief stricken Bruce’s eyes to turn into the familiar heat vision red. And that is when the story of “Dark Nights of Steel” actually begins. 

Tom Taylor  wrote an epic comic book story with the perfect ingredients: the  DC Comics and medieval archetypes! And the twists in this first issue were the chef’s kiss! And I suspect that there are more twists and turns to come. 

Another thing I enjoyed about the comic was  illustratrations and coloring done by Yasmine Putri. Purtri’s art was the icing on the cake for this medieval DC epic. My favorite scene in the first issue is where Bruce and Jor-El are having their talk at the castle. The lightning is a common trope used in the Batman mythos and also serves an ominous omen for things to come. Another favorite drawing is the half splash of Bruce cradling his father Jor-El in his arms. It is here where we will really see him become the Bat-Prince, full-circle, and with Kryptonian powers which makes him more dangerous. 

Overall, it is a retelling that would make everyone who has ever read, watched, or heard the stories of the heroes and villains of the DC Universe talk about this story for years to come. I’m serious when I write this! I am already looking forward to reading issue no. 2 and to see where it goes from there. 

“Dark Knights of Steel no. 1” is available at your local comic book shop or wherever comic books are sold! 

“Dark Knights of Steel no. 1” 

Writer: Tom Taylor

Artist: Yasmine Putri

Colorist: Yasmine Putri

Letterer: Wes Abbot

Publisher: DC Comics 

An entire medieval world will be forever changed when a spaceship crash-lands from a doomed planet. Monarchs will die, kingdoms will rise, and what seemed the end of the world for many…was only the beginning! An epic high-fantasy story set in a DC Universe where nothing is what it seems… From worldwide bestselling writer Tom Taylor (DCeased, Superman: Son of Kal-El) and acclaimed artist Yasmine Putri comes a generational tale of good and evil within a brand-new DCU!

Review: The Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn

I just saw The Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn, or simply Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey today. And I have to say that, I liked the film. Maybe I am just saying this out of bias because I am a fan of Batman and Harley Quinn is one of my favorite villains/anti-heroes. But there it is. I liked the film. It was fun and enjoyable.

Margot Robbie (Wolf of Wall Street), reprises her role as Harley Quinn (from the Suicide Squad), And in this film, there were a lot of dark but funny jokes. Plenty of smashing. A lot of campy scenes. Several scenes where the crime lord loses his mind every time his plans go awry.  I mean, it was really a fun movie.

Some people might have seen this film as a female empowerment propaganda being shoved down our throats. But what I have seen with this film is nothing new. There have been many depictions of Harley Quinn becoming her own person and standing up the the Joker, the man she fell in love with and who later on bullied her. This story has been seen in various comic books and there was an episode in Batman: The Animated Series where Harley broke away from the Joker and started teaming with Poison Ivy. Even the adult cartoon, Harley Quinn, voiced by Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory) elludes into Harley declaring her independence from the Joker despite trying to get a spot on the Legion of Doom.

In this film however, Harley Quinn is not the only one struggling to break away from the chains of her past. First, we have the Black Canary, Dinah Lance, played by Jurnee Smollett-Bell, who is trying to break away from the dangerous yet immature, and funny, antagonist crime lord, Black Mask (played by Ewan McGreggor, who also played the young version of the Jedi Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars. Next, we have Helena Bertinelli, the Huntress, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Plilgrim Saves the World) who seems to be locked by her own vengeance against the people who murdered her family. Then we have Renee Montoya, played by Rosie Perez (White Men Can’t Jump, Pineapple Express) who is a brilliant cop that is bitter with her treatment at the Gothan City Police Department due to her partner taking all the credit for her hard work. Last but not least, we have Cassandra Cain, played by the young actress Ella Jay Basco, is trying to break away from a life stricken by poverty and a dysfunctional foster family. So, to me, the overall theme of Harley Quinn was breaking away. And this is what makes Harley relatable to all of us.

Some of us had to break away from the things in our life we knew held us back. For some people, it was someone they loved. Or for some people, it is that job that sucks the life out of them. Whatever is or was, something in our lives held us back and like Harley, we begin to question if we really could make it out on our own without that something anchoring us. To Harley, Joker was a sense of protection and security but as Benjamin Franklin once warned: those who desire security over freedom, deserve neither. Harley learned that the moment she decided that she was going to declare her independence from Joker. And that is one of the things I admire about her.

I will admit, there were times where the film went back and forth due to Harley’s narrating but at the same time, that was what made it fun. Again, I enjoyed the film and to me, Margot Robbie is Harley Quinn, without question.

I definitely would recommend anyone give this film a watch and yeah, maybe there are some themes in it, but in the end, its still a fun film and it has Harley Quinn in it. Enough said.

 

-Brian From Earth-16

 

Veteran’s Day Review/Tribute: Superman Up In the Sky #3 Story-Just A Little Farther

Superman Up In the Sky#3-Just A Little Farther

Writer: Tom King

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Artist: Andy Kubert

I have always enjoyed the stories my Grandma had told me about my Grandad. I never met him but he was a hero who answered the call to enlist in the United States Army during World War II. Grandma also told me that Grandad fought in the Battle of the Bulge which was a huge battle that escalated the end of the War in Europe.

Sometimes, I tell people that Grandad was Captain America. When doing so, people often give me funny expressions and I just smile. I tell them what my Grandma told me: he fought in the war and returned a hero. Maybe my Grandma and her storytelling was why I love stories about heroes or superheroes. Heroes like Superman. Heroes like Captain America. Heroes like my Grandad.

But on this Veteran’s Day, as I think about Superman: Up in the Sky-Just A Little Further, I begin to wonder if Grandad was perhaps, Sgt. Rock? My mom told me a story where he had gotten shot at like any other soldier, seen many of his buddies die, and probably seen a whole lot of narly shit that only could be birthed from war. As Rock narrates his meeting with the guy in the red cape, he explains how “when you’re in the hurt of it, you don’t have time to think.” I am certain that Grandad thought the same thing after seeing the men he likely considered his brothers get hurt.

When I think of Just A Little Further, I think of two generations meeting in a time of uncertainty. I am also reminded of those stories my Grandma and Mom had told me. Now that I think about it, this story is similar to just that but with one of my favorite heroes added in it.

Just A Little Further is the meeting between a hero from the 21 century and a grizzled American soldier in the 20th century. It is a part of the Superman: Up in the Sky issue where Superman goes on a quest to find a young girl name Alice who was kidnapped by an unknown alien.

The very first scene of Further was moving. It showed Sgt. Rock carrying a knocked out Superman while shooting Nazis. A real bad ass drawing and one of my favorites next to Superman taking a green car and smashing it on a boulder in Action Comics #1 or Spider-Man saving a man on the cover of Amazing Fantasy #!5 (Just to name a few).

As Superman comes about, Rock asks who he is and where he is from. Superman response that he does not know who he is but that he is from Kansas. What is so funny in this comic is Rock calling the Man of Steel “Kansas” and gives him an army uniform to hide his costume and “long underwear” plus a pair of glasses.  The sargeant was probably thinking “who the hell says they are from Kansas and dresses like a circus person in a red cape?”  Nonetheless, Clark Kent becomes a memeber of Easy Company and takes part in the Company’s mission to take St. Ruth’s church.

What I enjoyed about this story is that Tom King wrote Sgt. Rock as this man who, despite obviously not having superpowers, is hellbent on completing the mission by going further. Rock even saves Clark’s life of several occassions until Clark becomes Superman again and helps out Sarge whoop some Nazi ass.

Tom King’s Rock narration had a lot of references to comic books and even Action Comics. I also loved how King wrote Rock and Superman being respectful toward each other as men and as heroes. Sarge’s narration of Clark telling him that he had read a lot about the war reminded me of my high school self reading a lot about the U.S. involvement in the war when wanting to learn what it was like for my Grandad. Another cool thing about the narration was when Rock said that he believed in the mantra of Truth, Justice, and the Amercian Way and that he also believed in Superman. The story ends with Rock bidding farwell to the Man of Steel, or Kansas and Superman thanks Sarge for saving the world.

To all the veterans, past and present (Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel and definitely Grandad), men and women, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, neices and nephews and also to Tom King (who served in the CIA)…this day is for you. Like Superman, I want to thank all of you for answering the call to fight for our country and for saving the world. You guys have a special place in my heart.

Thank You.

Happy Veteran’s Day