The Dark Knight has returned – again – which means you can expect all hell to break loose.
Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns is a masterfully written classic and remains one of the must-reads of all the Batman lore. It’s magic and praise could not be matched with the critically vindicated The Dark Knight Strikes Again and many thought that’d be the end of the franchise. But Frank Miller has come back this time with writer Brian Azarello and artist Andy Kubert for the culmination of this franchise.
DC is touting this miniseries as Frank Miller’s triumphant return, though not everyone may be buying that just yet. Miller is the man responsible though, for bringing countless comicbook classics including Batman:Year One, 300, and Daredevil to life on the page. But for every person offering him praise there always seems to be detractors right behind them.
With the help of Azarello and Kubert, Dark Knight 3: Master Race #1 looks to hold those detractors at bay.
The issue itself is an emphatic return to the Dark Knight universe, but it’s something more modern and connected to today’s world. And I’m not just talking about the Jon Stewart and Al Sharpton cameos but the world of DK3 is held together by smartphones and 24-7 news networks. You can feel Miller’s touch in this world but it’s remixed with Azarello and Kubert’s involvements. The visuals are fantastic, no more indulgent splash panels like in Strikes Again but a style that is reminiscent of the first Returns. Kubert takes a dip into Miller’s world and does a great job of not adopting Miller’s style, but adapting it to suit this new world the book takes place in.
There are two themes that are clear throughout this first issue; the status of Batman as a cultural icon and urban legend, and the role that “daughters” will play throughout all of Master Race. Despite this being a “Batman” story a significant time was spent focusing on the families of Superman and Wonder Woman, how much of a role will they play in this yet to be told story?
I’m liking Carrie Kelly as the new Batman. It makes sense because despite our wishes there would be no realistic way in which a decrepit Bruce Wayne could successfully dispatch justice for all of Gotham due to his age, so Carrie Kelly is the logical choice.
I’m also really interested to see how the Superman and Wonder Woman stories will work out. Superman seemingly freezing himself is intriguing, what could have happened for him to make this decision and alienate his daughter Lara and apparently newborn son Jonathan?
Lara looks to play a big role as she will be the one who will interact with the Kandorians the most it seems. Another question that is raised is are the Kandorians in fact the “Master Race” the title speaks about?
The pacing of this issue might be a problem to some people, will the whole story follow this sort of “measured and slow” pace or are we just being set up for thunderous action in the issues to follow?
The last ten pages with Batman being chased and ultimately unmasked as Carrie Kelly was wonderfully executed, the visuals were phenomenal but the pacing seemed just a little off to me, it felt like it could have been condensed instead of being dragged on.
Dark Knight 3: The Master Race #1 is a solid return for Miller and with the involvement of Kubert and Azarello you can bet that we haven’t seen anything yet.