Dark Knights of Steel Tales From The Three Kingdoms #1
Three stories taken from the childhoods of the world's most dysfunctional superpowered Knights. Warning: Here There Be Mayhem.
Written by Tom Taylor
Art and Color by Caspar Wijngaard
Letters by Wes Abbott
In this story, Kal, Kara, Bruce, and their new pal Jimmy solve a mystery in which orphans (both adopted and otherwise) are abducted by something large, leathery, and clawed. Taylor writes with his patented mixture of hopeful and heartbreaking, expanding upon a world in which any moral greys are more likely due to misunderstanding than malevolence — or else are shadows cast by the vilest of vile foes.
The story was only a dozen pages long, but it’s packed to bursting with fine characterization, raucous adventure, and just a tincture of body horror thrown into the mix. I especially loved the depiction of Oswald as a basically sweet kid (not a light in which we are used to viewing this character). Percy White was surprising as a loving, truth-driven foster father for young Jim Olsen. And it’s nice to know that Amanda Waller is thoroughly herself, regardless of the reality she happens to be inhabiting at the moment.
The art is clear and beautiful as a church window. The light appears as though it were cast through stained glass. This segment was thoroughly enjoyable and it set a good tone for the two which followed.
Story 2: The Flock
Written by Jay Kristoff
Art by Sean Izaakse
Color by Romulo Farjardo Jr
In this story (set when Kal and Bruce are in their late teens) the young princes set about visiting their subjects while dressed in disguises — a feat which one boy manages far better than the other, it must be said. This story begins as a variation on The Prince And The Pauper but it soon evolves into an origin story for The Robins. Bruce and Kal have their ideologies tested, and their preconceptions stretched, under the guiding hand of Lady Harley. It’s a fun story, and it provides a bit of insight into the psychology of all the characters involved.
The art is lush, and bathed in both torchlight and shadows. Visually, it’s absolutely stunning. The art is worth the cover price all by itself.
Story 3: King’s Bane
Written by C.S Pacat
Art by Michele Bandini
Colors by Antonio Fabela
This story is probably the most psychologically complex (and disturbing) in the entire anthology. Read this if you want to understand, fully and terribly, who this Bruce Wayne is. In this story, loyalties are forged, tested, and ultimately betrayed for the sake of a set-in-stone ideal. This version of Bane is probably the most sympathetic take that I’ve ever encountered.
The art is far more cartoonish than previous entries. There are fewer details, and the tone is (appropriately) a great deal harsher than the floral scrolls and renaissance flute work that precedes it. The colors are more traditionally comic book-y, but this is an intentional choice on the parts of both artists, and they work very well together. It’s probably the most impactful story in the anthology.
If you want to expand your understanding of the fantasy realm Taylor has spent the last year or so building, and get to know the histories of the characters he’s filled it with, this is your chance. Don’t pass it up.
If you want to expand your understanding of the fantasy realm Taylor has spent the last year or so building, and get to know the histories of the characters he's filled it with, this is your chance. Don't pass it up.
Dark Knights of Steel: Tales From The Three Kingdoms #1: Brawlers, Bawlers and Baddies
- Writing - 10/1010/10
- Storyline - 9.5/109.5/10
- Art - 10/1010/10
- Color - 10/1010/10
- Cover Art - 9.5/109.5/10
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