DC Comics' big summer crossover event Knight Terrors comes to a close next week. In addition to a four-issue core miniseries, bookended by the Knight Terrors: First Blood and Knight Terrors: Night's End specials, the horror-driven saga spanned numerous DC titles across July and August, replacing the usual monthly titles with two-issue tie-in arcs.
The event, steered in large part by longtime DC architect Joshua Williamson, marks the culmination of the first half of the wider Dawn of DC initiative. Here's how the crossover repositioned the characters who have been drawn into new supervillain Insomnia's insidious scheme, and the road that Knight Terrors sets for the DCU moving forward.
It should go without saying, but there are spoilers ahead.
The seeds for Knight Terrors were planted in the closing issue of 2022's crossover event Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths, by Williamson and Daniel Sampere. After squaring off against the cosmic supervillain Pariah and being trapped in pocket universes, the Justice League decided to disband for the foreseeable future as they regrouped from their narrow victory.
Shortly thereafter, in the 2023 miniseries Batman vs. Robin by Mark Waid and Mahmud Asrar, Lazarus Island was consumed by a volcanic eruption. The explosion caused a Lazarus Resin-laced acid rain that engulfed the world, kickstarting the crossover event Lazarus Planet. Many heroes and villains found themselves affected by this Lazarus rain, causing their powers to alter. The rain also awakened the latent abilities of a normal man who became the supervillain Insomnia.
Knight Terrors begins as a murder mystery, with Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman investigating the grisly death of their old Justice League enemy Doctor Destiny in the abandoned Hall of Justice.
Destiny, whose modus operandi was to trap his victims in their dreams through use of a relic known as the Dream Stone, is revealed to be linked to a newly discovered artifact known as the Nightmare Stone. Insomnia introduces himself as Destiny's killer, and is hellbent on recovering the Nightmare Stone for himself to augment his already powerful connection to dreams.
By its very premise, Knight Terrors is a story that goes deeper rather than bigger in the conventional narrative sense. The heroes drawn into Insomnia's nightmares are largely isolated from each other, forced to confront subconscious fears and emotional issues physically manifested in the dream world. Heroes like Batman, who are accustomed to facing their fears, navigate these dreams with a greater sense of self-awareness whereas characters like Ravager find themselves in more of a predicament.
Eventually they all either manage to break out of their dream states or are woken, with some of the characters preparing to take on Insomnia in next week's Knight Terrors: Night's End special.
Even with this more introspective focus, there will be lasting consequences to Knight Terrors, particularly for the main characters.
Superman's concerns about stretching himself too thin weigh heavily on him. Catwoman doubts the path that she is pursuing - one we know will lead to conflict with Batman soon. Speaking of the Dark Knight, the end of Knight Terrors: Batman reunited him with his son, setting the stage for Williamson and Simone di Meo's upcoming Batman & Robin relaunch this September. Other consequences will be revealed in the Night's End special.
Compared to most big superhero crossover events, Knight Terrors has moved at a breakneck speed across two months and is more interested in the creative possibilities of going deeper into its main characters than delivering bombastic action. Given Joshua Williamson's extensive background writing in the horror genre in his creator-owned works, he's overseen a story that leans into the fun side of terror, presenting a crossover that plays out more like a rollercoaster ride than something unsavory in its scares.
The DCU had emerged a more hopeful place after Dark Crisis, but Knight Terrors is a strong reminder that there are still monsters lurking in the dark - and they're getting voraciously hungry.
Knight Terrors #4 is published today by DC Comics, alongside Knight Terrors: Detective Comics #2, Knight Terrors: Titans #2, Knight Terrors: Action Comics #2, Knight Terrors: Harley Quinn #2, and Knight Terrors: Angel Breaker #2.
Revisit the start of this huge DC event with our interview with key Knight Terrors writer Joshua Williamson.