Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Review: Dark Knight III: The Master Race #9


STORY: Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello
PENCILS: Andy Kubert
INKS:  Klaus Janson
COLORS: Brad Anderson
LETTERS: Clem Robins
COVER: Andy Kubert and Frank Miller with Brad Anderson; Frank Miller with Alex Sinclair
VARIANT COVERS: Jim Lee and Scott Williams with Alex Sinclair; Greg Capullo; Klaus Janson with Alex Sinclair; Frank Quitely; Mikel Janin; Chip Kidd
40pp (plus 16-page insert), Color, $5.99 U.S. (July 2017)

Batman created by Bob Kane with Bill Finger

A nine-issue comic book publishing event, Dark Knight III: The Master Race (also known as DKIII) is the second sequel to Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (also known simply as The Dark Knight Returns or DKR).  DKR is the now-legendary 1986 four-issue comic book miniseries written by Frank Miller and drawn by Miller (pencils) and Klaus Janson (inks).  DKR focuses on a 50-year-old Bruce Wayne who comes out of retirement to resume fighting crime as Batman.

DKIII is written by Brian Azzarello and Frank Miller; drawn by Andy Kubert (pencils) and Klaus Janson (inks); colored by Brad Anderson; and lettered by Clem Robins.  In DKIII, Batman unites with Superman to stop a murderous group of people from Superman's home planet, Krypton, from taking over the Earth.  Meanwhile, Superman's daughter with Wonder Woman, Lara, has joined with the murderous Kryptonians, and Carrie Kelley, the former Robin, begins to evolve into the new Batgirl.

As Dark Knight III: The Master Race #9 opens, the “master race” of Kryptonians from the Bottled City of Kandor and their leader, Quar, prepare to make the Earth unlivable in order to punish humanity for not worshiping them.  Enter Green Lantern and the Atom.  Batman has a surprise for Quar and company, but Superman may have the biggest surprise of all.

If I remember correctly, when it announced that DKIII was being extended to nine issues, DC Comics said there was more story to tell (or something like that).  After reading DKIII #9, I don't know if this is so much “more story” as it is an extended action sequence, all of which could have been wrapped up in a double-sized DKIII #8.

After much criticism and complaining about DKIII (with only scattered praise), I had to admit that I thought that DKIII #8 was not only the best issue of the series, but was also a truly good comic book.  DKIII #7 and #8 moved the narrative forward more powerfully than a locomotive, and #9 is nice finale slash coda coming after those two issues.

I think that DKIII #9 also came into existence to prepare the way for more comics set in the world of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.  Rumor has it that DC may have outlines all the way to an eighth miniseries, and I'll probably read them all.  For all the series' unevenness, DKIII #9 has some surprises, like The Atom's pivotal moment and the last page, with its graphic homage to an iconic graphic from DKR.  Plus, I can't resist the eight-page gallery of Adam Kubert and Klaus Janson's art in black and white.  So in the end, I'll recommend Dark Knight III: The Master Race #9.

Dark Knight Universe Presents: Action Comics #1 (Insert comic book)
STORY: Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello
PENCILS: Frank Miller
INKS: Klaus Janson
COLORS: Alex Sinclair
LETTERS: Clem Robins
COVER: Frank Miller and Klaus Janson with Alex Sinclair

I have not really enjoyed these mini-comics inserted into the center of each issue of DKIII, but I did like DKIII #7's“Strange Adventures” and #8's “Detective Comics.”  In “Action Comics #1,” Batman provides a narration as we look in on heroes like Aquaman, Green Lantern, Flash, Wonder Woman, and The Atom.  Also, Lara and Carrie Kelley/Batgirl take the next steps in their lives (with Carrie's evolution alluded to at the end of the main story).  “Action Comics #1” is also a nice coda slash prelude to the probable “DKIV” or “DK4.”

7.5 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

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