Batman: Dark Knight III: The Master Race by Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello
|Batman: Dark Knight III: The Master Race by Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello|
|Category: Graphic Novels|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: An enjoyable DC comic, but one that fails to match the ground-breaking nature of the prior Miller titles in this line.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 378||Date: September 2017|
|Publisher: DC Comics|
Batman is not playing ball. He's been videoed duffing up Gotham policemen, and not the baddies he usually biffs. But then he's not Batman – he's a she, and she finally comes up with the news that Batman died in her hands. Elsewhere, Lara, the daughter of Superman and Wonder Woman, is encouraging Ray Palmer/The Atom to turn his technologies concerned with shrinking and expanding life to the miniaturised city of Kandor, the last vestige of Kryptonian existence not to fly about in visible blue pants. What with Superman sitting idle in an exposed Fortress of Solitude having gone into a sulk, and Batman dead, there would appear to be little in the way of help for the world should anything nasty happen – but then, of course, something nasty does happen…
Without having my finger on the pulse of monthly comics, the collection of this series came as a surprise. After so long, Frank Miller was going to treat us to another Dark Knight book, those that looked at the hubris, ailing feeling of defeat and general ageing of a has-been superhero? Well, that was my impression. But of course, that wasn't quite what we got. And what we did get was more than serviceable, but was nowhere near as high in quality as my expectations.
This is a nine-parter, added to in the trade by a selection of supporting chapters looking at specific characters, some of which were not only written by Frank Miller but drawn by him too. He shares writing on the main bulk of the piece with Brian Azzarello, and that may somehow be the problem. Yes, we get defeatism among the Trinity players, but the rest of the classic Justice League crop up for cameos, and that, added to the disappointingly normal threat, mean this could have been any bog-standard DC comic from the last, ooh, thirty years. It doesn't seem to have taken on board anything revolutionary from the original Dark Knight book, but instead reverted to a kind of story-by-numbers effort.
And some of those numbers took very little effort. Without mentioning all the specifics, there are some awful beats here. The way Donald Trump gets cameos – and boy, do I hate it when DC try and 'do' politics. The way the baddies first arrive in a scene that could have come out of any bad Hollywood Middle Eastern epic – and boy, do I hate it when DC try and 'do' Middle Eastern/Islamist political allegory. But closer to home, what is it with the This mean you not dead anymore? scene, or Carrie's ineptly conveyed escape? The TV talking-heads commentaries that made the earlier books' pages sometimes an ordeal to read are here, but in smaller quantities – but get added to by text-speak chatter, which is inherently ignorable.
To the credit here is the Milleresque artwork that the varied creators have come up with – for when Miller is responsible for it in the bonuses, some of it is just dreadful. The arc of the story does leave us with a suitable ending, whether that is just to this book or to this series as a lengthy trilogy. And if you were to come to these pages expecting just a routine DC story of goodies collecting themselves together in various configurations to fight the baddies, then that is what you get. You may struggle if you don't get all the references I deliberately included here, to suggest this is not a book the never-before-read-a-DC-comic crowd could instantly engage with. But what nobody will get, whatever their experience, is a sense of anything outstanding, which may be understandable but in any regard has to be thought of as a shame.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
Superior by Mark Millar and Leinil Yu could be enjoyable for those without the prior knowledge either DC or Marvel comics demand, and has certainly stood the test of time since first released.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Batman: Dark Knight III: The Master Race by Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello at Amazon.com.
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