Dark Knight III: The Master Race - Cover
In 1986, Frank Miller set the multiverse on fire when he unleashed his four issue prestige format miniseries, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, which then went on to become one of the most influential stories to hit the world of comic books. 15 years later, however, and I'm afraid to say that Frank wasn't so lucky with his 2001 sequel, Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again. Even though he told another portion of his parable and broke new grounds by allowing his then wife to try out a new coloring technique, regrettably the fans didn't take a liking to this one, due to its unorthodox take on a popular subject matter.

Dark Knight III: The Master Race on Amazon

Then in 2015 DC Comics gave Frank another chance at reinvigorating this comic book franchise. But in doing so, took a gamble to see which way this third installment was going to flow. I mean, would DK3 end up more like DK2 than DK1? Or alternatively, would Frank be able to make lightning strike twice? After all, you know the old saying about three's the charm, right? Let's hope this is the case when it comes down to me reviewing Batman: The Master Race, also known as Dark Knight 3.

Publisher: DC Comics
Writers: Brian Azzarello and Frank Miller
Artists: Andy Kubert, Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, Eduardo Risso, and John Romita Jr.
Price: £25
Format: Hardback
Page Count: 160
Size: 150mm x 22mm x 210mm
Synopsis: Set in the not so distant future, Batman: The Master Race, tells the tale of an ageing Bruce Wayne joining forces with a group of his old colleagues in order to protect the entire planet from a horde of renegade Kryptonian's. Accompanying him on this mission includes such notable heroes as the Atom, Aquaman, Hawkman, the Flash, Batgirl, Green Lantern, and with a little luck, hopefully Wonder Woman and Superman too. But the thing is, even with this amount of force behind him, the question remains; will this be enough to save the human race from a large congregation of super powered aliens who have the ability to punch a hole through the centre of the Earth?  Let's hope so, eh? Or else we're all dead!

What now follows is a basic breakdown on what I thought about Dark Knight 3

Dark Knight III: The Master Race - Superman & Wonder Woman
  • Essentially this epic story of life, death, and rebirth, poses two fundamental questions: Firstly, can the human race defend themselves from an alien attack? And secondly, what does it actually mean to be the fabled Dark Knight?  Now I know this may sound like a jumbled mess when it comes down to telling a cohesive yet linear story-line. But then again, this isn't a cohesive yet linear story-line. Far from it, in fact, as it's a fairly complicated and cinematic tale, accompanied by a number of superhero styled action sequences. In addition to this, it also tries its best to express what it takes for someone to defy convention and embrace becoming a hero. This can easily be seen in the subplots involving such supporting characters as Carrie Kelly (aka Batgirl) and Lara Jor El (aka Supergirl). 
  • The artwork produced for the previous two installments included Frank Miller on art, Lynn Varley on colors, and Klaus Janson on inks (minus Klaus for DK2). In this third installment, however, we have a number of different artists who've contributed to certain parts of the plot. Andy Kubert and Klaus Janson illustrated the main part of the tale, very beautifully I might add, whereas Frank MillerEduardo Risso, and John Romita Jr dealt with the supplementary mini-stories scattered throughout each episode. More or less I felt that each of these illustrators were able to stick to a cohesive design while highlighting their own artistic flair in the process. So in essence, you could tell Frank's work from Andy's work, even though both men kept in sync with a more uniform tone and style. I personally attribute some of this cohesion to the selective color palette Brad Anderson decided to use, as it had a lush quality to it, bordering on the conventional, which unified the overall epic without trying to detract from the individual artists involved.
  • While I'm on the subject of tone, or at least, tonal quality, another aspect about this book which is different from the other installments has to do with the inclusion of Brian Azzarello. When it was first revealed that he was going to co-create this story with Frank, circa 2015, many of us fans couldn't help but wonder if he would be a worthwhile addition. Personally, I like to think he was, very much so in fact, as Brian has that ability of telling a bold story no matter how far Frank wants to push the envelope. I think a good way of explaining this point would be to refer you to the 1995 Martin Scorsese classic, Casino. Now if you can remember this film, you might have noticed that one section dealt with the actual telling of the story (i.e. How a rogue gangster messed up a scam organised by the mob), where as another section dealt with the mechanics behind the story (i.e Showing us how the casino operates and the men involved). To me, Casino and Dark Knight 3 both work on a similar level, a level which is basically a juggling act between Brian's story and Frank's additional texture. Take that however you so wish.
  • If you're a comic book geek then I'm sure you will get a right kick out of all the references scattered throughout this epic. So not only do you get to see the Justice League in action, or should that be, a version of the Justice League in action, but in addition to this, the entire tale is chock full of references to Batman's mythology as well as other aspects of the DC Universe

Dark Knight III: The Master Race - Fight
  • As I mentioned before, a fairly hefty slice of this story may seem jumbled and I don't think everyone would be able to easily follow it. Well, not without knowing a little bit more about the characters involved as well as what went down during DK1 & DK2. It would be like watching the second episode of a popular soap opera without watching the first: Even though you should be able to catch up with what's been going on at some point in the tale, in the same breath, some catching up is needed, and this isn't always to everyone's taste.
  • Despite my earlier praise, on occasion the artwork depicted in this book does seem a little bit incoherent on the page. Sometimes we get a very cinematic and natural looking visual, while at other times we get a very grotesque and rather surreal looking visual. Inconsistent, that's what it is.
  • In its original comic book form, each episode of DK3 had a mini-comic inserted within its middle pages. But no, not in this case. Here we get these mini-comics blown-up to full-size proportion and presented alongside the main tale. I personally would have liked to have seen them in their original form, albeit in a more subtler and pronounced fashion.
Dark Knight III: The Master Race - Lara & Quar
  • I wouldn't suggest this book to young children or people who are easily influenced. Basically the general narrative has a really dark edge to it, a really dark edge, and that's heralded by the main protagonist, named Quar, who's a grotesque in both nature and design. He's also a complete and utter b@stard, plain and simple, plus he possesses a one-sided quality that some could say borders on the two-dimensional.
The hardback edition of Dark Knight III: The Master Race is available from the 19th of September, 2017


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