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Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1 Director's Cut Review

Comic Books

Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1 Director’s Cut Review

A director’s cut arrives this week from DC Comics complete with a script, the main issue in black and white as well as black and white pinups of all the covers. Question is, is it good?

Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1 Director’s Cut (DC Comics)

Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1 Director's Cut Review
The actual cover is like the one above but in red.

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So what’s it about? The DC summary reads:

The epic story continues in a way you never saw coming, and now it’s back in a new Director’s Cut edition because you demanded it! The Dark Knight rises again to face the dawn of the master race in these stories from issue #1 of the 8-issue miniseries, which includes the minicomic printed at standard comic-book size.

Why does this book matter?

As I’m more of a writer, I find the director’s cut issues are more interesting due to the script they contain. Seeing how the script was written before any art was drawn is an interesting experience where you get to see their intention and how the artist interpreted it. Plus you get to see the art in black and white, which brings more attention to the lines themselves.

Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?

I might be biased here, but the best part of this rerelease is the script, written by Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello. The script is quite fun for those who are imaginative, as it allows the reader to envision the scenes and make up their own visuals. It’s also fun to get inside the writers’ heads and see how they lay it out which, after reading this, shows they write very sparsely. It’s actually quite fascinating and while I’m sure artist Adam Kubert and the writing team spoke often to flesh things out, based on this script alone he had to do a lot of the lifting!

Kubert’s work looks just as good if not better in black and white, in part due to the material, but also because you can see how he pays homage to Miller better without the color. It’s also fascinating to see how the colorist must have to do some guesswork to figure out what is what (like say, where the blood stops). Like the script portion, this section helps show us how much of a master the artist is by stripping it down to its essential inks and lines.

The remaining third of the book is all about the covers which each get their own page (save for a double page of Batman by Miller). Jim Lee gets his own both without inks (which is fascinatingly light) and with inks by Scott Williams. The editors deserve kudos for putting these on opposite facing pages which help the reader compare them easily. The covers all look gorgeous and given the talent it’s not surprising. These pages include art by J. Scott Campbell, Greg Capullo, Rafael Albuquerque, the late and great Darwyn Cooke (which is masterfully cartoony and fun yet depicts a brutal scene), and many more. One of my favorites is by Mike Allred, which highlights one of the best parts of this section: you’ll find your own favorite I’m sure!

It can’t be perfect can it?

Given this book is extra sized it’s not surprising it’s $7.99, but that’s a steep price to pay especially if you’ve already read the comic and own the colored version. I’d be more inclined to say the price isn’t so bad if it contained Frank Miller’s mini comic that came with the first issue, but it doesn’t! Obviously the covers are all collected here which you can’t get elsewhere and the script of course is new to this issue too. If you dig art you can’t go wrong with getting this for the black and white covers, but the price seems a bit steep.

Is It Good?

If you’re interested in writing comics, or just observing the process of writing comics, this is a must buy. The price is however pretty steep and it lacks the Frank Miller portion from this issue which is surprising as it makes it feel less definitive.

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