For those not in the know The Dark Knight saga by Frank Miller is somewhat of a legend, especially the first of the three – The Dark Knight Returns. Now we have the third book, by more or less the same team in the same universe where Bruce Wayne is an old man, there’s no Gordon and only a few of the known Bat family feature except for new Robin/Batgirl – Carrie Kelly. The first two books had a darker tone to them with increased violence and Dark Knight III Master Race is no different.
- Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello
- Publisher: DC Comics
- Hardcover: 376 pages
As above, the version I have is the hardcover and it really feels like a premium chunky book, more page per dollar than most books if you get it for less than 20. It’s 160 pages long but feels a lot longer thanks to the glossy paper which appears thicker than usual collected editions. Anyway, the context of this book is that Frank Miller hasn’t had a hit in decades and despite the legendary Dark Knight Returns, 2001’s Dark Knight Strikes Again wasn’t as well received and many feel Miller’s lost his edge and The Master Race will be another let down. In my opinion, it’s not the case. Sure, it’s not as memorable as the first but it’s certainly better than the second and in this review I will share my thoughts on the book.
The premise of the book is that a renegade bunch of Kryptonians trapped in Kandor are released by The Atom. From there they try to enslave Earth and to rule it like a “Master Race”. The only people standing in their way being an even older Batman, a now experienced Carrie Kelly as Batgirl, Superman and Wonder Woman. The dream team so to speak. It’s a very simple story really, sometimes I felt it was too simple making it not so much a page turner. There are various plot points along the way featuring Lara, Superman’s daughter and Carrie Kelly’s much more prominent role but other than that it’s straightforward.
The Kandorian’s led by Quar are the book’s big bad and they didn’t bring anything new to the table, in fact I found them a bit irritating and preachy with cultish overtones. They could have done what they wanted to do easily but decided to toy with our heroes which leads to their demise. A very uninspiring enemy if truth be told. To add more to the nostalgia there’s even a brief cameo from Bruno.
The pace of the book as also highlighted by Kieran Schiach didn’t leave any space for character development which gave me the impression they assumed you would have known the situation from Returns and Strikes Again. I had read them both so yes I was up to speed but a new reader could be completely lost here. The second book was 16 years old when Master Race was released so not a great move from Miller and the team.
Those looking for classic Batman moments may be disappointed as he feels a bit flat and predictable in what he says and what he does – the main star of the show to be was Carrie Kelly who really drove everything forward in a new direction as someone taking control over their past master. Superman’s part was fairly large but ultimately didn’t bring anything we haven’t seen before in a Batman/Superman partnership.
What The Master Race does do though is attempt to be a sequel to the famous books but not hold a candle to them in the sense that DKIII was not a book in its own right. Miller does move the story forward to new areas, characters and situations and during the ending made it possible for there to be even more. On one hand this is great but on the other it does not provide any closure to a trilogy.
Overall, the story hums along but ultimately nothing new to see here. It appears that the privilege of witnessing another Dark Knight book should be enough for the reader and they won’t need a story to keep them entertained. Although some of that is actually true, Miller has chosen more style than substance.
The art keeps in line with the styles of the original which would probably be a bit marmite for some readers now. The art holds true to their previous work and I enjoyed it. It’s had some upgrades but generally the same feel. Some of the action scenes are stunning. The biggest drawback is the inconsistencies where Batman can look great in one scene and terrible in the other.
Dark Knight III The Master Race will not go down as one of the best or even one of the greats, but it is still a decent book and worth the read as there’s plenty of bang for your buck. Plus, it’s a bit of change from New 52/Rebirth Batman to keep things fresh. The art work will please some and annoy others depending on whether they like nostalgia in their modern day books.
Last update on 2018-01-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API