I’m a big fan of The Dark Knight—I own the animated version and action figures from the series adorn my desk as I write this. Heck, I even compared the two part cartoon movie to the comic! Like many readers I wasn’t a fan of its sequel, but with so much talent being thrown at this new installment you gotta wonder, is it good?
Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1 (DC Comics)
DC Comics is teasing this as the ending “you never saw coming…because you demanded it” and while I’m not sure that’s actually possible (how can you not see something you demanded?) it is nice to check back in with these characters. With Batman already being so old in the first volume, one has to wonder if he’s even alive at this point? Maybe he isn’t…
Why does this book matter?
The new Batman vs. Superman movie has been said to borrow heavily from The Dark Knight so it’s no surprise DC is going back to revisit the story that inspired what could be the biggest superhero film ever. Frank Miller has kept a lot of this version of the DC universe mysterious which makes the material rife with new stories. Why not explore it a little more?
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This comic is listed as 54 pages, but not in a conventional way. Instead it comes with a mini comic that’s glued inside, delivering an additional story on The Atom. It’s a nice size that makes the whole experience feel like a throwback to the 90s. There are no directions per se on which you should read first, although after reading the whole thing I think it’s best if you read up until the mini comic, read the mini comic and then carry on. That’s because The Atom storyline ties into the main events of the book. How they tie together is quite exciting and it’s what got me jazzed up for the next issue.
The cape and cowl loom large!
The mini comic on The Atom does a good job exploring The Atom and who he is in this universe. He’s weathered and beaten down by the gloom of being a hero, if you can call him that. Frank Miller draws this booklet very well and if it doesn’t bring you back to his hay day nothing will. Essentially this mini book feels like a flashback or a cutting to another scene and the physical booklet helps send that message home.
The main story checks in with the commissioner as a new Batman has showed up and they’re kicking police officer ass. The pages are rendered with the many mini-panels we’ve come to expect from this series which makes the read feel chaotic and all over the place – in a good way. Bats is back and he’s doing the last thing he thought he’d do and the news is abuzz with it. There are no why’s answered here, but instead more of a check in and a start to a bigger story.
The art by Andy Kubert, who gets pencils credit on the main feature of the comic, are lush and have his customarily clean look and feel. This might rub some people the wrong way since Miller’s style is so sketchy and detailed and this is almost the opposite. The layouts are going to win most of you over though, with cool smash close-ups mixed in with 10 person brawls which gives the art an immediacy that’s gripping.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
In a lot of ways this book is a big tease. We don’t know what is going on when we check in with characters. We don’t know what is up with them or the world in general. That can be a tad frustrating. This book feels like a taste of a much bigger story. It’s fine when stories take their time, but anyone picking this up expecting to know what it’s going to be about only really has clues to go on.
Readers new to this universe might also want to pick up the previous volumes to get acquainted with the characters. A major reveal at the end for instance won’t make a lick of sense if you haven’t read anything from this series before.
Is It Good?
Much like the five minute teaser opening to X-Files, Dark Knight III will excite you, make your jaw drop at least once and get you geared up for more. You certainly might be frustrated with the lack of answers, but chaos and confusion are a big part of this series.