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DC Comics meets 'Game of Thrones' in exclusive sneak peek at DC's 'Dark Knights of Steel' series
What if the DC Universe as we know it had been born a few centuries earlier?
We all know that Superman is the linchpin of the DC Universe. He arrives, saved from his own doomed planet by determined parents, and his very existence seems to kickstart a complete reorganization of the world, ushering in an era of superpowers, magic, and planet threatening-enemies. But what if that spaceship from Krypton had arrived a few centuries earlier, and the DC Universe organized itself around that reality?
That's the question writer Tom Taylor and artist Yasmine Putri have set out to answer with Dark Knights of Steel, a thrilling mash-up of DC Comics superhero might and the palace intrigue of Game of Thrones.
"Fantasy is my thing, so fantasy and superheroes are my two greatest loves," Taylor told SYFY WIRE. "The idea of being able to mash those two together was so exciting for me. So yes, it started with DC Universe in a fantasy setting. So creating a new DC Universe was the get-go. Then the ideas just started flowing."
For Taylor, who's written both DCeased and Injustice at DC Comics, alternate universe stories aren't new, but the appeal of Dark Knights of Steel represented an entirely new way to twist his beloved superheroes. Though it begins as the normal DC Universe does, with the arrival of young Kal-El on a rocket ship, many other elements of the Dark Knights of Steel universe will show readers familiar characters interpreted in very different ways. In the years after Kal-El's arrival, we see what happens when rival kingdoms set out to use magic against the Kryptonian superhuman, Batman's efforts to put a stop to that, and new interpretations of everyone from John Constantine to Harley Quinn to Green Arrow, all wrapped up in a fantasy narrative.
"We started off with pretty high fantasy-centric designs," Putri said of her artistic process. "We gave the central characters really traditional high fantasy looks, like nearly unrecognizable. So we played around with those design elements, like very intricate details and intricate costumes and what-nots, but as the back and forth progressed, we decided that the story at this time needed a more grounded look, a more grounded approach that is instantly recognizable to the readers. So we would settle on the more historical look, if that makes sense, just traditional armor without all the crazy frills and spins that you might find in a traditional fantasy story. So it's a more traditional look because the story required a grounded approach, and the characters needed to be instantly recognizable because we're already putting them somewhere unrecognizable for the readers."
In the exclusive lettered pages below, you'll see what Putri means in a sequence in which Batman and his Robins set out to take down a magic user by the name of Dinah.
Though Batman is a central figure in the series' first issue, and the book itself is called Dark Knights of Steel, Taylor also made it clear that readers should expect to see a much wider of this alternate universe going forward, including the arrival of other kingdoms full of key characters.
"This is the full DC Universe," Taylor said. "Batman's story is really integral to it because of the way it's twisted in a way we've never seen before, because his origin is vastly different. I don't want to spoil something, but you'll see that it's not the way many people think of as Batman. Obviously, he's a witcher in this first issue. His job is to root out magic, to stop magic from touching Superman, because it's the only thing that can reach him. So he takes that job very seriously and magic, for him, is anybody with powers. So it's a vastly different thing. But it is a Batman story, a Superman story, a Wonder Woman story, a Black Lightning story, a John Constantine story, a Lois Lane story, a Harley Quinn story. We keep expanding as we go."
Dark Knights of Steel will eventually run for 12 issues, and because it's a rather ambitious reinvention of all things DC Comics, Taylor and Putri are playing things rather close to the vest with spoilers, so much so that there are story elements in the very first pages they're keeping secret right up until the moment readers get their hands on the first issue. When asked what readers can look forward to as the series goes on, Taylor promised plenty of exciting twists, not just with characters we know, but with characters we haven't even met yet.
"Certainly the twist with Batman, what's coming for Green Arrow and Black Canary, what you're going to learn about Wonder Woman, and a new character that we haven't seen before," Taylor said when asked what he's most excited for readers to discover. "I'm really excited for people to meet that character in issue two, without wanting to give away too much. Also, just the politics between the three kingdoms and the allies and who's against who and the chaos characters, like the Green Man. Just this whole book excites me, I've got to say. This book gives me so much joy as a fanboy to be able to go, 'I'm mashing my favorite superheroes with fantasy.' It's ridiculous."
Dark Knights of Steel #1 is in stores Tuesday.
For covers and even more preview art, check out the gallery below.