Tag Archives: The Dark Knight Strikes Again

A Dark Knight III: The Master Race #4 Review – Nagging Distractions

DKIII: The Master Race #4, cover, Andy KubertTITLE: Dark Knight III: The Master Race #4
AUTHOR: Brian Azzarello, Frank Miller
PENCILLER: Andy Kubert
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $5.99
RELEASED: April 27, 2016

***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

The Flash is kind of a big deal for DC right now. He’s got a TV show on The CW that pulls in millions of viewers per episode. What’s more, it’s actually a damn good show.

Viewers of said show may want to avoid this issue. Their hero not only goes out like a chump, but he’s wearing one of the gaudiest costumes the DC Universe has ever seen.

We open the issue with a showdown between father and daughter. It’s Superman against Lara the Supergirl, who happens to have an army of Kryptonians behind her. Once they’re done with him, Batman is next in line. Quar, leader of the hostile Kryptonians, demands that Batman be produced or Gotham City will be destroyed. Once again, The Dark Knight is about to come out of retirement. But this time, he seemingly has no choice in the matter.

The Flash, Andy Kubert, DKIII: The Master Race #4, 2016This issue devotes three pages to The Flash being taken out by a Kryptonian. I can’t say I was a fan. He doesn’t even put up a fight. He simply gets his legs taken out, and it’s all over. If you’re going to devote that much of your issue to taking out a hero, that’s fine. But come on! This is The Flash! Now more than ever, this guy is one of DC’s big guns! Give him at least a little offense!

That costume is a leftover from The Dark Knight Strikes Again. That alone should have been a red flag. I understand that book can’t be completely ignored. But there are certain things from DKII that need to be left in the past. This costume is undoubtedly one of them.

Sadly, it’s not the only awful costume we’ll see…

Surprisingly, the first thing we see when we open the issue is The Atom. Despite the CRUSH we saw in issue #2 that seemed to indicate Ray Palmer had been killed, apparently he’s alive, albeit in a microscopic state. I can’t say I’m sad to see him back. But his death was a nice punctuation mark on the arrival of the Kryptonians. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how he factors in later.

Quar, Lara, and the other Kryptonians either kill or neutralize Superman, depending on how you interpret the issue. Despite all the blood he spills in this issue, there’s no way Superman is gone. Not with his daughter playing such a crucial role in things. If there was ever a time for a reconciliation between Batman and Superman, it’s now.

DKIII: The Master Race #4, Carrie Kelley, Bruce Wayne, Andy KubertOnce again, Andy Kubert does a fine job evoking Frank Miller’s style, while still making the book his own. This is most evident in the way he draws Bruce Wayne. The detail he puts into the character’s facial expressions and his scarred physique are fantastic. It’s almost as if someone has flipped a light on, allowing us to see details we’ve never seen before.

One of my few complaints with the art in this issue involves the scene where Commissioner Yindel sees Batman for the first time in the story. She’s been searching for him since the first issue, and now they’re finally face to face. We see Batman shrouded in darkness, holding the flask he’s just taken from a hopeless Yindel. I envisioned this scene being as impactful as Superman’s return to consciousness last issue. It isn’t. I think it would be different if Kubert, inker Klaus Janson, and colorist Brad Anderson had taken him out of the darkness a bit more. This Batman doesn’t always lend himself to the whole shadowy figure of the night routine. He’s big, bulky, and brash. This would have been a big time for one of those toothy scowls he’s always flashing around. DKIII hasn’t given us much of Batman in all his grandeur yet. This would have been a good time to play that card.

This issue’s mini-comic gives us Batgirl as we’ve never seen her before: Drawn by Frank Miller and wearing Joker colors. Seriously! What the hell is up with that costume? If Batgirl has ever looked worse, I can’t remember it. That’s not even getting into how weirdly she’s proportioned.

Dark Knight Universe Presents: Batgirl #1The story mostly consists of Carrie Kelley, after being given the Batgirl costume by Batman, fighting off some thugs at a dock. Aquaman emerges from the water to save her when she gets in over her head. Why he happened to be there is anybody’s guess. Hopefully we’ll learn more next issue. But if what happened to Green Lantern and Flash is any indicator, I’m hoping he’s got good healthcare down in Atlantis.

This issue is still decent in terms of the core story. But the Flash interlude and the weird acid trip that is the Batgirl issue prove to be nagging distractions. As such, this is the least satisfactory installment of DKIII thus far. Brian Azzarello maybe in the driver’s seat, but Frank Miller’s fingerprints are still there….

Images 1 and 3 from weirdsciencedccomicsblog.blogspot.com. Image 2 from newsarama.com.

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A Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1 Review – Miller Light

Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1, Andy KubertTITLE: Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1
AUTHORS: Brian Azzarello, Frank Miller
PENCILLER: Andy Kubert
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $5.99
RELEASED: November 25, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

The Dark Knight Returns really shouldn’t have had a sequel, much less two sequels.

I know that’s too much to ask in the modern era. We simply have to go back to the well with everything. Watchmen had to have a bunch of prequel stories, we had to do another Sandman, and now we’re putting Frank Miller and Batman back together. Because, you know, that worked so well last time

Actually, Miller doesn’t have a lot of say on Dark Knight III: The Master Race. Given what Miller has said on the record, he’s firmly in the backseat for this one. Apparently Azzarello is in the driver’s seat, and Miller is more an adviser than an author. If we must drag Dark Knight out of retirement, that’s a good decision. His classic works notwithstanding, Miller’s descent into incoherence and mediocrity has been well documented.

DKIII is set three years after The Dark Knight Strikes Again, as Batman has re-appeared in Gotham City. As such, both the criminal element and the news media are up in arms. Under pressure to take action is Police Commissioner Ellen Yindel, who initiates an aggressive police response. But things regarding the Batman are not what they seem…

Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1, Andy KubertThis issue, as expected from a first chapter, mostly serves as a table-setter for things to come. We establish Batman’s return, re-establish Gotham City and Miller’s trademark depiction of the news media, and also set up where Wonder Woman, Superman, and their daughter Lara are. We get a cliffhanger in the end involving Carrie Kelley, which opens the floodgates for speculation about what’s really going on with Batman/Bruce Wayne, and whether there’s a larger plan being enacted.

The most intriguing element in this issue is the art, pencilled by Andy Kubert, with DKR inker Klaus Janson and colorist Alex Sinclair. Miller himself drew DKR, and DK2 with far less success. But now we have Kubert and his colleagues trying to maintain a certain consistency with Miller’s style, but also display their own strengths. Kubert’s line work is cleaner, and less busy than Miller’s ever was. But at the same time, there’s a certain grim and moody tone to things that’s very Miller-esque. This is especially true when we see the battle scene with Wonder Woman. We see a lot of deep black, and there’s a great shot of Wonder Woman’s eyes in under the shadow of her headgear in the rain. The team also does great justice to Miller’s rendering of Lara.

Miller has taken a lot of heat over the years for the oversexualization of his female characters. So the fact that most of the characters in this issue are strong, proactive women likely serves as proof of Miller’s reduced involvement. He’d likely have jumped at the chance to draw Wonder Woman or Lara provocatively. But this departure is definitely a positive. Now isn’t the time for cheesecake. Evidently, it’s time for fighting cops…

Dark Knight III: Master Race, protests, Andy KubertIndeed, this issue delivers on the classic Frank Miller theme of Batman vs. the Police. Near the end of the issue, we get a bloody fight between Batman (sort of) and the cops. But there’s a stark contrast between the cops we see here, and the ones we saw in Miller’s last Bat-book, All Star Batman & Robin. In that book, the Gotham City Police are depicted as sadistic rapists and pedophiles with badges. In this book, they occupy a gray area that reflects how they’re often portrayed in a post-Ferguson world. The issue makes a veiled reference to modern-day police backlash via another Miller trope: Parody of television news media. A stand-in for Bill O’Reilly references the police having “enough on their plates with all the latest protests.” Still, seeing cops who aren’t Jim Gordon portrayed in a sympathetic light is another considerable departure from Miller’s usual narrative. Again, this is a positive.

Interestingly, contained within the issue is a miniature issue starring Ray Palmer, a.k.a. The Atom. That’s kind of a cool little gimmick, considering the title character. Ironically, one can argue we learn more about the story to come in Dark Knight Universe Presents The Atom #1 than we do in the main issue. We actually find out who “The Master Race” is. Miller does have the pencil here, and while his figure-rendering is highly questionable, his work on Palmer and Lara’s faces is fairly solid. Also, Alex Sinclair’s colors pop really well.

The cover on the other hand…

DKIIIMini900_560f23c5ded7d5.10162826This is the Frank Miller we’ve come to expect in recent years. Look at Superman. He’s blocky, his proportions are weird, the line work is overdone, his legs are stretched out but the bottom of his left boot is somehow facing the camera. And that face is…what is that face? At the risk of going low brow, this looks more like an elderly man struggling on the toilet than the Man of Steel.

DKIII is worth a look, at the very least because of Frank Miller’s status as an innovator for Batman and his world. It might be worth sticking around for, given the involvement of Azzarello and Kubert. A Batman story that’s written and drawn by Miller in the 21st century is scarier than it is intriguing. But a story that takes some of Miller’s ideas and shapes them into something that’s coherent and not offensive? That might be interesting. At this point, it’s too soon to tell. But this issue is a solid first chapter.

Images from comicbook.com.

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