It has taken over a year and a half to complete (it started in November 2015), but Dark Knight III: The Master Race finally comes to its conclusion after a few delays and the addition of a ninth issue. The series has been an epic that has surely made up for the sequel in many fans’ eyes, but it hasn’t been without some bumps in the road. Can the finale pull everything off and close this thing out?
Writer: Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello
Artist: Adam Kubert and Frank Miller
Publisher: DC Comics
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The epic conclusion to DARK KNIGHT III: THE MASTER RACE is here from the all-star creative team of Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello, Andy Kubert and Klaus Janson! This is Earth’s last stand. Quar’s Kryptonian Army has conquered the planet, but Batman and his allies don’t believe the world is beyond saving. They’ll rally once more against Quar and save the world or die trying.
Why does this book matter?
This book has been a long time in the making and I think fans are going to delight in how it wraps up Frank Miller’s Batman. This series has also made a strong case for Superman and Batman’s friendship, which is saying a lot since Superman kind of killed Batman in The Dark Knight Returns. It’s also pencilled by the great Andy Kubert and comes with a epilogue of sorts written and drawn by Frank Miller himself. Though higher in price, this book comes with a lot of content.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Time to roll out.
This issue opens with the Kryptonians hell bent on taking out as many humans as possible and only Batman and Robin (clad in lime green and purple) are there to stop them. Well, more or less, because really this book could be split in half with Batman (now young and no longer old…read the last issue!) showing off what he can do and the second half allowing Superman to do his thing. Writers Brian Azzarello and Frank Miller essentially deliver what hardcore fans of The Dark Knight wanted with this issue. We get awesome moments for both heroes, a sort of conclusion to their bumpy relationship, and finally a new direction for all the characters. This issue effectively works as an homage to the original, but also a hope for a new kind of story to sprout from it. It’s pretty close to perfect as far as a satisfying concluding chapter.
That includes Batman swearing a bit, actually learning something, and coming to the realization that maybe Superman is necessary in our world. Earlier in this story Batman rejected Superman–they’re clearly trying to close that loop here–which does make his new realization a tad clunky, but reading this issue it feels earned and satisfying. Given how much time has passed since issue #1 it’s hard to read this and get a sense of what the overall story does, but it’s hard to deny this issue checks off a lot of boxes.
One of which is Superman, who surprises and even gets some time with his daughter. Frank Miller’s written and drawn comic ends up acting like an epilogue which was a great choice as it wraps things up further than the main story does. It also serves as a goodbye to the characters that appeared in this story arc, including Green Lantern and Flash.
Adam Kubert’s art manages to wow throughout, including an awesome homage to end the book. It’s a poster worthy full page spread, but done in a new way fans will adore. News flashes are drawn too, complete with all of today’s biggest anchors and talking heads (Trump too!) which ends up feeling like another homage to the original series. A showstopper in this issue is Superman, who ends up really letting loose and Kubert does well to visualize that with swooping color to show off his speed. There’s also Batman, who, now younger, looks sharper than ever. He also uses his wits in a cool way drawn in a great full page spread that fans of Batman Begins will love. To cap that all off, the bad guy gets his due via a great double page layout that seems to push further and further into its end moving left to right. A nice touch to wrap up the villains storyline.
Green Lantern plays a big role in this issue.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The delays do hinder the overall enjoyment of this issue. It’s hard to gather what the overall message is or where we’ve come from. That said, this issue feels very self contained, with new elements introduced to start and a fine conclusion to wrap things up.
Is It Good?
The series as a whole may have had its ups and downs, but make no mistake: this is an excellent conclusion to a series that makes up for the lackluster sequel to The Dark Knight. Miller, Azzarello and Kubert should be proud: They’ve managed to deliver an entertaining homage, excellent character beats, and a fine send off that has made this universe feel fresher than ever.