Batman: Dark Knight 3: The Master Race Review Part 4 by Deffinition
It’s brilliant seeing Superman and Batman fighting side by side once more. Feeling like the arc and animosity between the two has come full circle, the world’s finest stand out on every page that they grace.
The Kandorians don’t take it lying down and watching the battle between human and superhuman is a thrilling one that packs the books first real punch.
Staying true to it’s roots, by remaining comicky there is a feeling of joy on every panel throughout the battle. Seeing Carrie almost kill Baal with a Kryptonite rock in a slingshot could be viewed as slightly twee but it works to great effect and feels true to the character’s origins.
The narrative doesn’t end with this battle though and the Kandorians that flee cement themselves as poor losers by shooting Batman in the back with a heat vision laser. This sends him into flatline.
Standing firm as a brilliant Battle, the midsection fight certainly delivers upon all of the setup thus far. Whilst relying heavily on fan service it still delivers on some unique moments that add true characteristic to the book. It’s gut-wrenching to see Bruce take a fall at Issue 6’s climax and this speaks volumes as to just how invested I was in the characters at this point.
It was the first time since reading the original Dark Knight Returns book that I felt DC were back on track with their Frank Miller universe and this is one of the highs in the saga.
Laying down the law on Lara
It’s also in this section that the mini issues begin to pick up. We see Lara Battle Wonder Woman and the book is laced with regret on the latters part that really adds weight to the fight. Realising that Lara was raised wrong it’s up to Wonder Woman to put her in line. Relatable on a parent vs child level, I’m sure every reader can think back to a point in their life when they waged war against their mother or father and were put back in their place.
It adds a subtext that was missing from the earlier mini comics and feels like a huge upswing in comparison.
The Master Race
In the aftermath of the fight we see some hilarious news coverage of the event. Donald Trump states ‘we won just like I said we would, and now we’ll make the Kryptonians pay to rebuild Gotham City. You’re gonna love it’ and the book feels like a sophisticated look at modern day media. Images are splashed across iPhone screens and it adds weight to the fact that nowadays, for better or worse, everything is filmed. Once again this hammers home the point that everyone is now connected and we can either work as a cohesive unit or choose not to. Either way it paints the picture that we as a race have an opportunity to strive or fall by the wayside.
It was during this point that I was struck with the realisation that perhaps ‘The Master Race’ pronoun used in the title isn’t referring to the Kandorians, it’s us. Filled with racial connotations it pinpoints a human outlook on other civilisations. We often view ourselves as above others and lash out with violence at the sign of weakness. We take what we can in order to further our own means and this causes us to neglect the good of others for our own goals.
This motif is laced throughout the book and reassured me that Miller and Azzarello were putting depth into the work that would be missed by many readers. Seeming like a mere action comic, this subtext behind the story has a wealth of work to look into and analyse and I urge readers to re-read the work to see what they missed the first time.
The Dark Knight At Death’s Door
One of the most controversial aspects of the book is the rejuvenation of Bruce Wayne. Placed in the Lazarus pit upon his demise, the hero Returns reborn, a young Man once more.
Whilst many scoff at the idea of Bruce ever using the pit (we all know that he’s had ample opportunity in the past) I see it as a ‘get out of jail free card’ that allows the Batman to exist in every era. In real life, the Caped Crusader would probably seek out the fountain of youth in order to continue his war on crime and similar to Ra’s he requires it in order to complete his never-ending mission.
Dissimilar to Ra’s, Bruce is a good man at heart and he would only use it in a positive aspect instead of blaming it for driving him insane. Even if he scoffs at Clark for reviving him with it, it still gives him opportunity to carry forth the wisdom he gained with old age and place it in the body of a young man. The Dark Knight has truly returned.
This section of the book really improved the quality of the story and at parts it felt as good as the original source material. I was left open-mouthed several times and it delivered on the punches both physically and metaphorically.