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Dark Knights of Steel #4

Scheduled to arrive in stores: February 1, 2021
Cover date: April 2022

"Child of the Gods"

Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Bengal
Cover: Yasmine Putri
Variant Covers: Joshua Middleton, Bengal

Reviewed by: Craig Boehmer
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Dark Knights of Steel #4 After Bruce had been exposed to Kryptonite in the last issue, Alfred helps him understand why the rock affected him that way. He explains that when the Els landed in the kingdom they hid in isolation as simple farmers until a volcano threatened to destroy the kingdom. This threat caused them to come out of hiding, delivering a plan to King Thomas Wayne's chief advisor, Luthor, on how to save his kingdom from the volcanic eruption. Out of jealousy Luthor, burnt the plans up. The volcano erupts, and nothing has been done to save the people. Jor and Lara use their powers to protect the kingdom and expose themselves as beings with incredible powers. They form a bond of friendship with the Waynes that causes Luthor to leave in anger. Luthor later finds Kryptonite shards and it transforms him into the Green Man. Meanwhile the kingdom loves the Els, but their arrival prompts King Jefferson Pierce to seek council from Constantine about the prophecy received earlier.

The closeness of the Waynes and the Els leads to Jor-El and Martha Wayne having an affair. The affair rips the friendship apart, until Bruce is born. Bruce reunites the families in friendship and love, on account of Thomas being unable to produce an heir. This new status quo would last for years, until it was torn apart by the deranged Green Man, also knowns as the Joker, who murders Thomas and Martha, leaving Bruce to be raised by the Els. The issue ends with Alfred helping Bruce up and encouraging him to help stop this war.

3Story - 3: The first time I read this, I really enjoyed the issue. It gives a lot of backstory to the Kingdom of the Els, and fleshes out the history of the Waynes. The second, and third time I read it, I noticed a discouraging trend. The replacement of Superman with Batman. So, while the story is fun, and entertaining, I struggle to disassociate it from the larger almost thirty-year trend of DC putting Batman above Superman. This trend is infuriating! I don't want to get on a rant... but come on DC! It's so bad that now Batman has the powers of Superman and is the rightful King returning to usurp the throne from Kal and bring peace to the lands. This might not hit so hard if Kal had done anything worth noting in the previous issues of the series... but he has not. Ugh, the theme of promoting Batman over every other DC hero is just disappointing. This story could have gone in so many fresh and interesting directions, but it falls into the tired and worn-out cliché of all Batman stories.

Then came the complete butchering of Luthor and the Green Lantern Corp. I understand wanting to change characters for this new tale, but Luthor is completely different. They took a character known for his scientific prowess, and strategic brilliance, and made him an embodiment of Medieval ignorance. All in the name of creating a Joker for this world. Not only did they replace Kal with Bruce, but in creating this world's Joker they replaced Hal, because for some reason Joker has a Green Lantern ring, and Luthor with the Joker. I don't doubt that Tom Taylor will continue to tell an interesting, and maybe even epic story, because he is a good writer. But this is a frustrating waste of potentially great characters and a great idea, that they could have done so much with. Why wasn't Luthor the king of technologically advanced, but super repressive Kingdom. It would have also been so cool to see the Green Lanterns as a band of Rangers that patrol the wilderness and borderlands protecting innocents. Or almost anything else, to better utilize characters not linked to Batman. Additionally, as I said before, Kal has done nothing... nothing in this story, yet he was on all of the promotional material. This seems like a blatant bait and switch, and I am so frustrated by it. further slight the Man of Tomorrow, they make his sister a psychotic murderer, who I am willing to bet can only be defeated by Bruce Wayne. Sigh! At least Philip Kennedy Johnson's Action Comics has been awesome.

5Art - 5: The art is great, it is a slightly different style then Yasmine Putri, but overall Bengal does a good job of continuing the fantasy vibes of this world. The colors are beautiful and go along way in selling the fantastic world they live in. Great job!

5Cover Art - 5: This is amazing! The use of green and its thematic link to the tragedy of the Waynes' murder. The stain glass image of Kal and Bruce, but the missing heads of I am assuming Martha and Jor. The crushed look on Jor-El's face, and the expression on Alfred's face. The whole image is beautiful and evokes a lot of important imagery that is found in the issue.

4Variant Cover Art #1 - 4: The art on this cover is great, I am just not a fan of Harley Quinn. And it is kind of a boring cover. Just Harley sitting on a keg, singing.

2Variant Cover Art #2 - 2: This cover is also boring. The art isn't amazing enough to warrant being on the cover. It's just overall king of meh.

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Note: Except for digital first releases, the month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.
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