Thursday, November 26, 2015

Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1

   To say that Frank Miller's 1986 Dark Knight Returns mini-series was ground-breaking would be an understatement.

   It focused on an alternate future, where Batman retired after a tragic event in his life - but is brought back into action as a 55-year-old force of nature. It was raw, visceral, and it affected the way that hero was presented after that - he would forever after be darker and more serious.

   (It also included the fight scene between Batman and Superman that has apparently inspired the upcoming film.)

   Miller followed it up in 2001 with the Dark Knight Strikes Again, a series plagued by publishing delays and general dislike among the readers (it seemed to be taking on the '60s Batman TV show more than the comic book character).

   Now, right on its every-15-years schedule, we have the third installment, though this one has considerably less Frank Miller content.

   Dark Knight III: The Master Race is written by Brian Azzarello and Miller, with art on the main feature by Andy Kubert and Klaus Janson. It's set in the "Dark Knight" universe, where Batman has been missing for a while - but he returns, fighting back against the less-than-sterling police department.

   It also includes a vignette with Wonder Woman and her family, and asks the question: what happened to Batman? There's also a delightful little mini-comic included in this issue, this one featuring Frank Miller artwork and an unexpected hero.

   I have to admit, I wasn't sure what to expect here. But the story and the art certainly deliver, and it evokes the original series without being a slavish imitation. I have no idea where the story is going, but that's a good thing - we seem to have lots of surprises on the way.

   The package is a bit pricey, and you'd have to be a mighty serious collector to try to gather up all those alternate covers - but what's inside is mighty promising so far.

Grade: A-


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