Frank Miller’s epic is rounding the corner as we’ve made our introductions and the heroes that are Superman and Batman enter the fray. Though Miller isn’t drawing or writing the script he’s still the mastermind behind it all: is it good?
Dark Knight III: The Master Race #3 (DC Comics)
So far this series has largely been focused on Carrie Kelley who has seemingly taken on the mantle of Batman. If the cover is any indication though old man Batman is back, which is necessary given the people inside the glass jar of Kandor have escaped. They’re Kryptonian and are just as strong as Superman. They’re the “Master Race” of this series and they want to live up to that moniker.
Why does this book matter?
The original Dark Knight series was fantastic and had a strong sense of the failings of our society. Social media and 24 hour news was king and that theme has carried over here. Meanwhile we have some slightly alternate versions of the heroes we love and most of them are bitter and downright nihilistic. That’s fun!
This variant cover has nothing to do with what happens in the issue.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Batman is finally back! Brian Azzarello writes a fantastic grizzled version of Batman; he’s a certified badass in this issue as he admits he needs to get off his rocker (somewhat literally) and save the world once again. The first step is to crack Superman out of that ice prison he put himself in and that takes up about half of this book. The book opens with a fantastic comparison between Batman and Carrie in how they approach fighting differently but for a similar affect. Batman takes a punch to the face while Carrie is quick — both methods to strike fear in the bad guys. It’s a nice way to show Bruce’s understanding and respect for Carrie, but also divide their personalities.
The rest of the issue is about the people of Kandor committing terrorist acts around the globe. It’s a bit controversial how they’re portrayed (particularly how bomb strikes are involved), though due to these villains not selecting any one people I don’t think this book is making a statement about Islam as some have said. In effect it seems to be going in a direction to suggest terrorism can only be fought with war, or at least a Batman and Superman to stand in their way. We shall see if the theme of fighting terrorism continues into the following issues.
Adam Kubert continues to draw a strong series with iconic panels that’ll stick with you. Take for instance a panel of Bruce sledgehammering a frozen Superman right in the noggin. Kubert also handles the media portions well with layouts that easily identify celebrities and pundits (Donald Trump and Jon Stewart for instance) as well as the buzz word happy and phone addicted culture we live in.
It can’t be perfect can it?
In many ways this issue is about Superman and I’m not sure it succeeds with his scenes. At one point there are tears falling, but I don’t know if the imagery and setup really make this scene feel earned. We’re supposed to see how much pain he’s in, but without speaking a word and having opened the series with him giving up in his ice prison why should we care about his pain?
The dissociation of society from real events isn’t quite as strong as it wants you to think either. There is one sequence where characters are on their phones while the threat of the Kandor villains fly literally over their heads. We’re expected to believe the public is more interested in tweeting and watching reality TV than an immediate threat? The point is so strong yet the delivery so weak it just doesn’t work.
The mini comic in this issue isn’t quite making the cut either. I was confused as to why this Green Lantern story matters and for that matter what the heck was going on. It seems to be suggesting Green Lantern isn’t a god but very human, but who are these characters and why should we even care? It may be the foundation of a bigger threat to Earth looming, but it’s so far dissociated with the events of the main series I’m hard pressed to understand it.
As a whole this issue progresses the story very little and progresses as you’d expect. That leaves for an unsurprising and mediocre read overall.
Is It Good?
Aside from strong Batman characterization this issue lacks the oomph of the previous issue’s with much of the purpose lost with it.
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