“Child of the Gods”
Writer: Tom Taylor
Color Artist: Arif Prianto
Letterer: Wes Abott
Review by Sharna Jahangir
Tom Taylor knows how to give readers emotional whiplash. I understand all the twitter pain now, as Dark Knights of Steel #4 is heart-warming as much as it’s heart-wrenching. We do get answers to some important questions, in addition, events take a real turn for the worst, but the issue also delivered some fascinating back story. Yes, finally Alfred tells the history of how Bruce came to be part of the El-Kingdom. Warning, spoilers ahead, and my reactions, but it was a fantastic issue!
It’s nice that it wasn’t a fairy affair between Zor-El and Martha Wayne; ie. it wasn’t going on behind Lara and Thomas’ back for years. Affairs are still pretty non-heroic, so I think everyone expected a little better from Superman’s dad. However, the idea that Thomas Wayne couldn’t father children helped soften the blow. It also brings together more ideas of found family, and how people can accept children no matter what creed or culture. It’s quite inspiring to see these humans accept an alien offspring.
It is also a kind of reversal to see a husband taking on the wife’s child. In most usual narratives, the wife takes on the illegitimate offspring of the father (Side-eyes Game of Thrones). It was refreshing to see Thomas being so grateful for having a son and heir. It was also really wholesome and heartwarming to see Kal, Zara (Superman’s sister in this reality and the Supergirl of this universe), and Bruce grow up together.
The friendship between Matha Wayne and Lara El was exceptionally moving. It was tragic but also life-affirming to see both Kingdoms harbor no ill-will between each other. The layout of the panels was touching and well placed, it carried the viewer’s eyes well.
The portrayal of the villains is so interesting in this universe, as this version of Lex Luthor appears to be some sort of advisor to the Wayne Family. He’s such a flexible villain, in comparison to the insanely inflexible Joker, whom readers know to be the epitome of evil. Luthor’s often placed in the grey spaces because, in many instances, he’s sided with the heroes…. due to the old, “the enemy of my enemy…” adage. Not in Dark Knights of Steel, though. Here we see a classic villain mash-up. I won’t mention who, this is something I don’t want to spoil.
Tom Taylor often gives villains an understanding arc, a reason as to why they turn evil. In Dark Knights of Steel #4, he does it again.
My only negative with this issue was that the artwork’s lacking a little when it came to the faces. In the first few chapters, the faces were gorgeous, soft, and alluring. This time some of the angles were strange, especially in the last few panels of the book. In addition, the expressions of many of the characters were lacking quite a bit from previous issues. Especially in comparison to the very first one. Bengal is a terrific artist for actions and backgrounds but missed Yasmine Putris’ gift for recreating human expressions.
The colors are as captivating as always, though. The tones of red and green show fire, envy, aggression, and injustice. I enjoyed the contrast of Bruce in the shadows, while Alfred sat by the warmth of the fire. An interesting transition was Bruce hidden in the shadows of the fire, while Alfred told his story in the light. This could have represented knowledge being passed on, as for 19 years Bruce had been kept in the dark.
This was a wonderful issue, packed with information. I still hold my stance on becoming curiouser and curiouser, as more questions are being answered, as even more questions unfold. I loved the scenes of Bruce, Kal, and Zara playing because compared to other universes, Bruce looked like he had a decent childhood, with five parents instead of just one father figure. He was loved fully, and that was lovely to see. I’m greatly looking forward to the next issue and more behind the scenes of Kal-El in this Universe.
Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment