Dark Knight 3: The Master Race Review by Deffinition
Frank Miller wrote The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Year One, Daredevil: Born Again and Sin City. Classics of the genre. He also created All Star Batman And Robin, The Dark Knight Strikes Again and Holy Terror. Which were all absolutely terrible. If you’ve been following my read through and review of The Dark Knight series then you know that the only thing consistent about the comic creator is his inconsistency. Back with a book that no one asked for, The Dark Knight 3: The Master Race, the writer has the opportunity to either save the franchise or ruin it even further. Beginning in 2015 the book has suffered from delay after delay but with help from Brian Azzarello and Andy Kubert, DC have guided Miller to the point that it is now released as a trade.
Analysing the book page by page I will be discussing whether it’s worth your time or if this series should finally have a death….a good death.
That’s like a reference to…never mind.
So let’s dive right into Batman: The Dark Knight: The Master Race!
The book opens in the Batcave, we hover over the destruction left in the wake of The Dark Knight Strikes Again and are told there is no such thing as a good death. Yeah, there isn’t Frank because people can’t just let things die and they have to keep bringing them back and making them worse. Nice one!
This would have been a brilliant opening had it not been ruined by the text message captions that plague the first issue. It seems that the people of Gotham haven’t discovered predictive text yet and are still typing in that annoying way that everyone did in the early 2000s.
Now I would never slag off my childhood, but bar Tatu and endless days of Masturbation, there’s very little I remember of those days. Littered throughout the opening are bubbles like ‘I Cn him’ and ‘bs. Nobody cn the Bat 4 3yrs.’
It’s hard to read anything that is written so badly. Reading like a Melania Trump speech that hasn’t been written by someone else, I took a slight dislike to the opening chapter.
Whilst I understand this homages the original Dark Knight Returns, even back then it was dated. When creating a sequel you should carry some things over that worked and leave the relics in the past. Even with an update, this makes the initial issues difficult to get into and I’m glad someone in power intervened at some point and made Miller and Azzarello dial it back in the following chapters because it reads worse than Stephen Hawkings when his Windows is going through an update
The Art Work
After perhaps being overly critical of the text, I’m happy to say that the art is the best that it’s ever been in the entire Dark Knight series. Whilst it had about as much competition as a Mugabe election, Kubert still stands head and shoulders above the rest. His work always flashing elements of Miller now stands directly above it. He was the perfect choice for this book and carries over a lot of the aesthetics that made the designs in the originals pop.
Whether handling large city scapes or simple surroundings such as corridors and streets, Kubert captures them all perfectly.
Still steeped in politics, Miller and Azzarello this time capture a lot of media coverage in a satirical sense perfectly. News anchors blurt our comments unchecked and it’s clear the creators have been looking for more faults in Fox News than Alex Jones.
Referencing this, Wonder Woman comments on how the world regarded her kind as saviors until they had the potential to become threats.
It really speaks volumes to how humanity, in general, deifies public figures, then crucifies them, then resurrects them. This isn’t just an allegory for Christ, it’s something I’ve noticed that happens to people in the spotlight. How many celebrities have been put on a pedestal, stripped of it and then repositioned back there by a new generation? Countless.
Throughout the first issue we see the police chase down the New Bat Figure. Getting the reveal that it is, in fact, Carrie Kelley in the Cape and Cowl on the first issues closer. She announces that Bruce is dead, leaving a brilliant twist ending for the first issue, but also signifying the Rebirth that the Caped Crusader would go through.
This is the overarching theme of The Dark Knight saga and it clearly ties into a Christ Metaphor as well as a comment on society. The Bat died, was resurrected, Bruce died, was resurrected, Superman died, he returned and this motif appears repeatedly through to the books ending. Miller has created a universe that kills its heroes more often than not but they return whenever needed.
The Mini Issues
One of the most unique aspects of this book is the inclusion of the mini issue. In this graphic novel print they are full size and honestly work better in this format as opposed to the original. Acting as supplementary material they focus on the universe’s side characters. Missing from most is Batman, so they can either be skipped by the casual reader or analysed by the hardcore fan. Adding more of a back story than specific plot elements they really enrich the overall story.
When taking on this book I expected to be able to breeze through it. On my second read though I’ve come to realise that it’s actually jam packed with content. Kubert has done a brilliant job of capturing Miller’s style and bar a few hang ups from the series legacy, the initial chapter does a brilliant job of rekindling us within the world of The Dark Knight Returns once more.