DC Knight Terrors Night's End Cover cropped
(Photo Credit: DC Comics)

Why DC’s Knight Terrors Was Disappointing

The two-month DC Comics event Knight Terrors left us more drowsy than filled with dread. Here’s where the horror-tinged crossover fell flat.

What Was Knight Terrors About?

Dawn of DC Knight Terrors Cover Cropped
(Photo Credit: DC Comics)

Knight Terrors introduced powerful physic Insomnia, who served as the main antagonist. With his powers, Insomnia put most of the people on Earth to sleep. He then invaded the dreams of the World’s Finest, searching for an artifact dubbed the Nightmare Stone.

A counterpart to the Dream Stone of Doctor Destiny, the Nightmare Stone was believed to be even more powerful. Insomnia also believed it to be hidden in the dreams of a superhero, but was unsure of which. With an army of psychic constructs — the Sleepless Knights — Insomnia made the nightmares of DC‘s heroes a reality.

The New Villains Weren’t Interesting

DC Comics Insomnia Knight Terrors
(Photo Credit: DC Comics)

The chief problem with Knight Terrors was that Insomnia and the Sleepless Knights are redundant to the DC Universe. In terms of powers, there is little effective difference between Insomnia and Doctor Destiny, who also menaced the Justice League through their dreams. The Sleepless Knights, while horrific, seemed like a less-developed take on the Dark Knights of Dark Nights: Metal.

It should be noted that Insomnia was given a unique origin near the end of Knight Terrors to explain his hatred of superheroes. He was revealed as a loving family man, who lost his wife and children during an unspecified disaster. Insomnia came to blame the Justice League (and superheroes in general) for his family’s deaths. While this lent some pathos to the character, it was not enough to distinguish him from Doctor Destiny.

The Stakes Were Too Low 

Green Lantern Knight Terrors
(Photo Credit: DC Comics)

Despite the world being endangered by Insomnia’s plan, there was little sense of tension in most of the Knight Terrors tie-ins. Most of the crossover comics told the same story, with the heroes overcoming their worst fears and waking up to join the fight against Insomnia. This left much of the event feeling sadly predictable.

Ironically, the Green Lantern Knight Terrors book broke the formula, yet still suffered from low stakes. The naturally fearless Hal Jordan gave Insomnia nothing to work with, having overcome his greatest fears years earlier. While it was amusing to watch Hal Jordan send Insomnia packing, it also undercut any peril or tension.

The Knight Terrors Tie-Ins Varied in Quality

Knight Terrors Poison Ivy
(Photo Credit: DC Comics)

Another problem with Knight Terrors was that the quality of the tie-ins varied wildly. The best tie-ins were those written by the monthly series’ regular creative teams. Most of these books tied into current storylines, and analyzed the characters through their nightmares.

The Poison Ivy crossover was a good example of this. Pamela Isley found herself living with Harley Quinn in a twisted suburb, a la The Stepford Wives. An idyllic life surrounded by former enemies trying to befriend her — while ideal for Harley — was a nightmare for the introverted and paranoid Ivy. This put a new spin on the Harley/Ivy romance, which the current Poison Ivy series examined in earlier issues. Sadly, most of the tie-ins lacked such insightful analysis.

Knight Terrors’ Ending Setup Another Event

Knight Terrors Finale
(Photo Credit: DC Comics)

Knight Terrors offers little sense of resolution to its own story. Indeed, it makes it seem like the only reason this story was told in the first place was to set up the next big crossover event.

The final issue ends with Insomnia vanquished, but ultimately successful in his larger goal of giving humanity a fear of their heroes. This is quickly exploited by Amanda Waller, who steals the Nightmare Stone for her own ends. The comic concludes with Waller declaring it time to move against the Titans.

This conclusion comes with a note to expect the story to continue in the November 2023 Beast World event. While it’s is to be expected in a sequential series, Knight Terrors fails to offer any kind of satisfying, definitive conclusion as a standalone work.

Knight Terrors: Night’s End #1 is now available from DC Comics.