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A little slow on the draw perhaps but our Sam McCoy is here nonetheless with our ComiConverse review of an important book; Dark Knight III: The Master Race #2 by DC Comics.
First off, I’d like to apologize that due to the holidays this review is coming a few weeks later than I would have liked.
Being a sequel to a beloved comic is always tough. Even the original sequel to Dark Knight Returns is often maligned, my personal opinion on Dark Knight Strikes Again is that it is a comic that had a pretty decent start but then was so drastically affected by 9/11 (as many comics of the time were) and it led to a complete derailment of the story that DK2 started. This isn’t DK2, we are now almost 15 years after that book and 30 since the original Dark Knight Returns, and now we have Dark Knight III: The Master Race and it is a pretty decent follow-up to one of the greatest comics of all-time.
Synopsis And Analysis:
Starting after last month’s cliffhanger with the revelation of Carrie Kelley being the person inside the Bat-suit and her confession to police that Bruce Wayne is dead, we find Carrie in police custody being interrogated by Commissioner Yindel. The two discuss about what happened to Bruce Wayne, particularly after the events of DK2 and Batman’s battle with Lex Luthor and Dick Grayson. This scene is wonderfully rendered and seems perfectly Frank Miller-y. The long shadows of the bars and architecture highlighted in this scene definitely feel like the perfect extension. Its as if Miller combined his original style for Dark Knight Returns and melded it to the noir-style he excelled at during his Sin City-era, so major props to Andy Kubert and Klaus Janson for finding the perfect style to tell this story.
The use of television commentators, one of the iconic devices used in the original, is used sparingly but effectively as a transition device. In one such instance, it helps set up how Carrie Kelley is able to escape police custody using the “Bat-tank” Batmobile, in an incredibly fun sequence. This all leads to Carrie returning to what appears to be Bruce Wayne, not entirely dead as she was telling Yindel.
The other main part of the story is Ray Palmer and his investigations into the bottle city of Kandor. Palmer was always one of the most interesting aspects of DK2 to me. In fact a lot of Miller’s versions of the Justice League have been more interesting to me than the main story of those books, so it is fun to see Ray get a nice subplot; especially at a time when Ray is not a very major part of the DC Universe. Palmer is assisted by a Kandorian named Baal in an attempt to adapt his Atom technology to enlarge Kandor. After enlarging a thousand Kandorians Ray is shocked to learn that he has now assisted in reviving a Kryptonian cult lead by a man named Quar. Ray and Kandor are then seemingly destroyed by Quar.
These are pretty interesting developments to me. We’ve definitely had the whole “we’re making Kandor and the Kandorians big” story before, in fact New Krypton was only about six years ago. But this seems to be a take on that story where the threat is immediate, whereas New Krypton was a much slower burn.
I think the most interesting angle, when you think back about Dark Knight Returns, is that Batman depleted all of his resources to take down one Kryptonian. Now we have what appears to be a good number of absolutely evil Kryptonians. How Batman will cope with this is a really fun idea to me. Obviously, the Justice League will be a big part and with what they’ve built so far this could be a great journey.
The mini-comic in this issue, Dark Knight Universe Presents: Wonder Woman, is about Lara returning late for a lesson with her mother, Wonder Woman. This mini-comic does a great job of establishing the differences between these two, particularly the fact that Lara is not only the daughter of Wonder Woman, but also of Superman. Her duality of the Amazonian Warrior mixed with the indestructible nature of the Kryptonian is something that is explored extremely well in the limited page count given to this mini-comic. Azzarello’s 100 Bullets collaborator Eduardo Risso takes on art duties for this one and turns in a great comic that definitely fits the style of the Dark Knight books. It works as a pretty good mid-point between the styles used in the first two Dark Knight books.
Issue two, like the issue that preceded it, is a strong entry in this mini-series, with some of the plot finally being revealed after the great hook that was issue one. This series appears to be gaining quite a bit of steam and, while it certainly has big shoes to fill with the original, the book appears to be a pretty well done third chapter that is a fun trip back to the world of The Dark Knight Returns.
Sam McCoy is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @realcactussam
DKIII: The Master Race continues with a strong second issue that feels like an honest trip back to this world.