Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1 Review


Dark Knight III: The Master Race – Book One

Story by: Frank Miller & Brian Azzarello / Pencils by: Andy Kubert / Inks by: Klaus Janson / Colors by: Brad Anderson / Letters by: Clem Robins / Cover by: Andy Kubert & Klaus Janson / Variant Covers: Jim Lee, Scott Williams & Alex Sinclair, Frank Miller & Alex Sinclair, Dave Gibbons, Klaus Janson & Brad Anderson, Jill Thompson

The first chapter of the highly anticipated follow-up to The Dark Knight Strikes Again — part of the Dark Knight series of books — has finally been released.  How is it?  Well, to put it as briefly as possible, Dark Knight III: The Master Race – Book One is like an homage to the classic The Dark Knight Returns, which is definitely a good thing.  Frank Miller seems to be going a bit soft in his old age, and I’m not saying that in a negative sense.  Book One of DK III is a great balance of violent action and fast-paced storytelling.  It also does one of the most crucial things a comic book is supposed to do: make the reader turn the page.

Before I dive into the goodies, I’m going to set a precedent.  I’m not going to go into a recap or anything that will give a synopsis of the overall plot of the story.  What’s the fun in that?  DK III is filled with quite a few surprises, ones that I do not want to ruin for you.  Instead, for this book and subsequent books in this series, I’ll review the art and pacing, and what I found to be engaging.  So let’s have at it shall we?

Book One opens with something very relevant to our current times.  It may seem like Miller is hitting us over the head with a 2×4 of politics, but it works.  Like a great movie, the intro is a teaser that sets the overall tone and theme of this third installment.  As the issue moves forward, we’re given quite a few surprises as to the state of not only the world and Batman, but what the rest of the Trinity (Superman and Wonder Woman) have been up to — or not up to.  These two reveals were some of things that made me want to dig further into this story.

As I said before, Miller seems to be going soft.  Or maybe a better word would be “tamer.”  The violence and brutalities depicted come at the right time, which gives everything relevance.  If your sadism is displayed on every page, it tends to lose its effect after a while.  So I applaud this more constrained version of Miller.

The dialogue was a bit wordy at the beginning.  However, instead of balancing out at the end, the writers (as the writing is a team effort that includes Brian Azzarello) chose to go with lots of action-oriented panels.  This created a narrative that was a bit top-heavy.  I’m guessing that this is due to necessary exposition — to show us what the current world is like in The Dark Knight universe.  Only time will tell, if other books will have the same problems, or if this is only a one-off for the start of the series.

Andy Kubert’s pencils fit in very nicely with the Dark Knight universe.  You can tell that he’s trying to continue Miller’s seminal Batman — brooding, burly, and mean as all hell.  However, his lines and faces have a sort of softness and grace to it.  It’s like someone took some sandpaper and smoothed out the roughness of Miller’s work.  I’m definitely not complaining here.  This is the definition of reinvention and inspiration.  Action panels are clean and definitely evoke a sense of movement.  I can definitely get on board with this basic nuts-to-bolts style.

Overall, Dark Knight III: The Master Race – Book One is a strong start for this new installment.  From Miller’s more reformed attitude and Kubert’s clean art, I’m looking forward to the continuation of the Dark Knight saga.