Review by C.J. Bunce
I am truly hoping Frank Miller’s eight issue The Dark Knight III: The Master Race does what I hope J.J. Abrams will be successful at with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If the first issue is any indication, the series might be better than The Dark Knight Strikes Again, the sequel to the seminal work Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
Why the comparison to Abrams? Unlike DKI and DKII, which was written and illustrated by Miller with colors by Lynn Varley, DKIII is “co-written” by Brian Azzarello, and illustrated by Andy Kubert with inks by Klaus Janson (who also inked the original Miller pencils on DKI). It’s this concept of expanding an original story to new creators that may allow this Dark Knight Elseworlds story to regain some steam.
With Issue #1, Kubert has drawn the beginning of a continuation story that looks like it was drawn by Miller. Miller’s original four-issue series included many unique design concepts, including frenetically rendered heroes as well as psychedelic street thugs, TV screens delivering the backstory of the world view as the plotline moved forward, and plenty of grim, dystopian future-Gotham characterizations. All of these are back, yet in an updated style, including the attention to current technologies that weren’t around in the 1980s like texting to deliver the view of the state of Gotham as part of its world building.
Four stories come forth in Issue #1, the fourth from an included mini-comic featuring The Atom, which is also available in a reprinted hardcover edition released this week. The Atom story is actually the best feature, a subplot where Superman and Wonder Woman’s daughter Lara seeks his help with a jarred community of tiny people. In the main book, Commissioner Yindel is reeling from media attention to alleged Batman sightings. Batman’s costume has been stolen, and the thief is captured, attempting to carry on where Batman left off. Meanwhile, Wonder Woman is battling a Minotaur in her native homeland as Lara travels to her father’s frozen lair where she finds him–Superman–enclosed in a block of ice. This is surely all leading up to a return of both superheroes–and inevitable confrontation, as DC leads into its Batman v Superman release next year. But no clue yet as to the “Master Race” of the title.
Azzarello’s writing is solid as you’d expect from the long-time superhero writer, and Kubert, with Janson’s inks, couldn’t have made a more fitting update to Miller’s Bat-world. All in, it’s a great start.
Pick up Issue #1 at your local comic book store this month. Issues are available in standard format with plenty of variant covers by every artist from Jock to Matt Wagner and Jim Lee, or hold out for the pricier hardcover of each edition each month, which will be collected in a cardboard boxed edition once complete.