I just finished reading The Dark Knight Returns, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, and the first issue of The Dark Knight III: The Master Race. I think that there is a consensus within the comic book community that Frank Miller is one of the best comic book artists/writers because of the life he breathed back into Batman via The Dark Knight Returns. The Dark Knight Returns is one of the best Batman graphic novels out there by far. From beginning to end, The Dark Knight Returns is a Batman centered story. The Dark Knight Strikes Again, or sometimes referred to as DK2, is not a Batman centered story; it is a Justice League story disguised as a Batman one, and (unfortunately) it’s almost unbearable to read, or even look at.
Here are two random pages from The Dark Knight Returns.
And here are two random pages from DK2.
Miller must have been on something when he wrote and drew DK2. It was like DC Comics gave Miller free reign to do whatever the hell he wanted to do (and why not after the success of The Dark Knight Returns), but what he wanted to do was create for us the bad acid trip he was on instead of a good comic. Due to the abomination that is known as DK2, I was hesitant about the quality of the third installment of the story The Dark Knight III: The Master Race.
The Dark Knight III: The Master Race, or DK3, issue one (of eight) is a continuation of DK2, which is surprising due to the negativity associated with DK2. I would have thought that DC would have wanted to stay as far away from DK2 as possible. Not even mention that the events associated with it occurred, kind of like denying that you ever dated that crazy ex of yours. Somehow DK3 writer Brian Azzarello convinced the big wigs at DC that he could incorporate the events of DK2 without pulling a Miller-like acid trip type of comic. So far, Azzarello has succeeded in crafting a compelling story based on the events of Miller’s prior work. Interesting is that recently Miller has been distancing himself from being intimately involved with DK3. When DK3 was announced, it was announced as a partial product of Miller, now all Miller is saying is that he gave his blessing to the idea that Azzarello had for a third installment of the Dark Knight story.
In a way, Miller not being involved in this story (I cant believe I’m going to say this) is actually a breath of fresh air. Azzarello’s direction is clear and the art by Andy Kubert is way more appealing than Miller’s in DK2. Like DK2, DK3 appears to be about the dynamics of the trinity (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman) rather than a Batman centered story.
True to Miller’s previous work, Azzarello uses mutant speak, TV personalities, and a gritty take on the world to give DK3 the right feel. There is even nudity that Miller wished he would have thought of.
The story opens with Batman returning to fight crime after being absent for some time. What alerts the media to Batman’s return is a cell phone photo taken of Batman beating the snot out of some cops that were chasing (I’m guessing here) a prior mutant. I’m guessing a prior mutant because of the way he texts; it is similar to how the mutant’s talked in DKR. The story then jumps to Wonder Woman saving a tribe from a minotaur with a baby strapped to her back. While she is engaged in the fight, she is thinking about how no matter how much she, and other like her, are often times hated by those who would like to control them (a reference to DK2), they are needed. After defeating the minotaur, WW wipes out her boob and feeds her crying son named Jonathan. Okkkkkkkk, shocking to say the least.
We know from DK2 that WW and big blue had a girl together and named her Lara. This new baby is a mystery. I’ve heard theories that the baby is possibly that of Bruce Wayne and WW, but that doesn’t seem to fit. My theory is that it is another baby of Superman and WW because in DK2 the two have a romp in the hay…er..air and because the baby is named Jonathan; the name of Clark Kent’s adoptive father.
The story then jumps to Lara finding her father, Sups, frozen solid in the fortress of solitude. I’m assuming that after the events of DK2, Sups no longer wants to be controlled by those who rise to power as he was by Lex Luther. Rather than become a possible liability, he decides to seek solitude. Of interest is that Lara finds that the City of Kandor (maintained in the fortress) is in trouble.
In a cliffhanger ending, GCPD track down Batman and beat the living hell out of him. But when Batman’s cowl is removed, it is not Bruce Wayne, but Carrie Kelly. When asked where is Bruce Wayne (Wayne’s identity was divulged in DK2) Kelly responds that he is dead. My assumption is that the Bruce Wayne side of Bruce Wayne is dead, but not the Batman side.
Consume Review Repeat gives DK3 a nine out of ten Wonder Woman nipple slips.
Inside the main comic was a smaller comic written and drawn by Miller. My understanding is that these smaller comics are going to relate to the main story while focusing on a specific character. Don’t let the dick-swinging Superman cover fool you, it’s a story about The Atom, kind of, maybe, not really. It’s basically The Atom lamenting about the dynamic of the Justice League until Lara shows up. What The Atom is doing throughout the issue is convoluted and doesn’t make much sense. The payoff is at the end of the issue when Lara informs The Atom that she needs his help to make the residents of Kandor life size because that is what they want. Hence, the “Master Race” may be the residents of Kandor or the kids of Sups and WW. Time will tell.
Consume Review Repeat gives the mini-comic a six out of ten miniature WW nipple slips.