Dark Knights of Steel: Tales from the Three Kingdoms #1 (One Shot)
Scheduled to arrive in stores: September 6, 2021
Cover date: November 2022
Cover: Neil Googe
Variant Covers: Dan Mora, Ejikure, Jay Anacleto
Reviewed by: Craig Boehmer
“Tales from the Three Kingdoms”
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Caspar Wijngaar
James Olsen is adopted from the Arkham Orphanage by Mr. and Mrs. White. One night he befriends Kal who is flying by his home. Shortly afterwards he is kidnapped, along with other orphans from Arkham Orphanage. Bruce, Zara, and Kal set out to find where they went. The three meet some of the current orphans, including Harvey Dent, a child with severe trauma. Harvey tells them where to go, and the three find the children and their kidnapper. They attack the kidnapper, a giant man-bat, but the kids stop them. James tells the heroes that the monster is Kirk Langstrom, a fellow orphan. The heroes learn that Kirk has been trying to protect these orphans from the same experimentation that turned him into a monster. The orphanage manager, Elizabeth Arkham is arrested by Waller, and taken into her confidence to create monsters to protect the kingdom.
Story – 5: This story was definitely the best of the bunch. It introduced a lot of traditional Batman villains, but provided them a unique place in this world. I also loved that the orphanage was linked to Arkham. Plus, Waller’s request that Elizabeth create monsters for her has me really excited for what we might see when war breaks out.
Art – 3: The art is fine. It is simple, I think it would have looked better with a different color palette. I did not find the pale colors worked for me.
Writer: Jay Kristoff
Artist: Sean Izaakse
Kal, Harley, and Bruce dress in disguise and leave the palace to experience the lives of the commoners. Harley’s necklace is stolen and they track down the thieves, the Robins. They discover the Robins are a group of thieving orphans, who steal from the rich, but try not to hurt anyone. Bruce sees their value and enlists them in his fight to keep the kingdom safe.
Story – 4: I liked the interactions between Harley and Kal. The story in an interesting, if slightly cliché, look at a band of thieves only stealing from the rich. I also liked Kal’s entry with all of the Robins under his arms.
Art – 5: This story looks great. The clothing is well designed and the business of the city is well represented.
Writer: C.S. Pacat
Artist: Michael Bandini
Bruce and his guard are attacked in Hobbs Forest by rebels. Bruce tries to fight the leader of the rebels “The King’s Bane.” The King’s Bane quickly disarms him and vows his loyalty to the true heir of the Kingdom. Bruce rejects him, but later seeks him out to learn how to fight. Bane trains Bruce and prepares him to kill the Els and take his place as king. But Bruce defeats Bane in defense of the Els, vowing to protect the Kingdom from magic users.
Story – 4: It’s a pretty interesting story that showcases the development of Bruce’s fighting ability, and his loyalty to the El family. It was also a cool way to bring Bane into this world.
Art – 3: The art is decent in this story. It is perfectly serviceable, but doesn’t contain that wow factor needed to take it beyond.
Overall the quality of stories and art was good. My only major quibble was that this comic was called “Tales from the Three Kingdoms,” and we only got tales from the Kingdom of the Els, and all of those were Batman centered. It feels like a huge wasted opportunity to more fully flesh out the world and the different renditions of the characters. I would have loved to have seen stories about the Kingdom of Storms about King Jefferson and his family. Just another sign of the frustrating strategy DC employs to suffocate us with Batman content.
Cover Art – 2: This cover committed the cardinal sin. It turned me away from reading it. I saw the cover and thought, “I don’t want to read about five year olds in this world.”
Dan Mora Variant Cover – 5: This is a great action shot of Bruce at a young age prepping to become the Bat.
Ejikure Variant Cover – 4: This cover looks fine, the action shot is right on… but the faces look off putting.
Jay Anacleto Variant Cover – 4: Almost perfect. This is such a fun image, but again there are a few little details that look odd.
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