Klaus JansonBatman
The Dark Knight III: The Master Race
Medium: comic
Year: 2015
Writer: Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello
Artist: Frank Miller, Andy Kubert, Klaus Janson
Keywords: superhero
Format: 9 main issues plus one-shots, 329 pages
Series: << The Dark Knight Returns >>, << Batman >>
Website category: Batman
Review date: 4 October 2021
It's flabby and too long, but I quite like it. Miller knows that TDKR is his big franchise and so he's taking it more seriously than some of his other nonsense. (Ahem, cough, All-Star Batman & Robin.) His recent comics hadn't been well received and people had started actively avoiding his work. Consider Holy Terror, for instance, which Miller "without apology" calls intentional propaganda, while also calling the Occupy Wall Street movement "a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness."
DC insisted on giving him a co-writer, Azzarello.
Every time I read one of Miller's Dark Knight instalments, though, it's about something. (I've no idea how much credit here belongs to Azzarello, though.) There are obvious parallels with suicide bombers and al-Qaeda (arguably including the baddie's name, Quar), but in a way that's addressing the concept of religion itself and even the very nature of God. Quar claims to be God and his demands are the same as the Bible's. "I asked only for your love, your adoration, your worship."
There's a supervillain called Baal. The book talks about isolationism, while its superheroes (most notably Superman) have spent the last few years doing exactly that. Donald Trump is a talking head, while mobile phones have replaced the 1980s TV talking heads of TDKR. The world's seen through phones. "Dead people, check it." Our heroes resist Quar to save one man's life, which kills lots of people and could easily have caused the entire planet to be wiped clean. Afterwards, in the rubble of Gotham, GCPD Commissioner Ellen Yindel asks if it was worth it.
"We fight for what we believe in," is Carrie's not particularly good response.
There's redemption. There are questions of identity. Race? Culture? Home planet? "You are a traitor to your race, father."
There's also what looks like a comment on the 2015 comics industry. "You are all slaves, bowing to commerce disguised as creativity. The irony being you created your false master."
That said, though, this is a superhero comic. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, the Atom, Green Lantern, the Flash, etc. will fight baddies. Is it a good adventure? Answer: yes, sort of. It has some magnificent moments, although far too many pages. I love the friendship of Batman and Superman. It's so iconic, given its history. It's older (in reality) than the characters themselves (in-universe). Batman doesn't actually do much, since he starts the story too old and beaten-up to be capable of walking, let alone fighting. Don't think of this as a Batman story. Both he and Superman, though, get some moments as cool as anything you'll see.
There are lots of superheroes, very few of them active at the beginning. Wonder Woman's a big deal, as is her daughter, Lara. There's art by Frank Miller on the twelve-page cutaway issues, which looks a bit odd these days and is obviously interested in ladies' bottoms. It's a bit jarring to keep swapping between that and Kubert's work on the main series, but I like how abstract it is.
It's slow and awkwardly paced. Should I call this "decompression", or just "too many pages"? That said, though, the threat's big enough to carry it (more or less) and the plot's apocalyptic. The regular 12-page cutaways keep things fresh and give new perspectives. When the book catches fire, it's great. I still love Carrie. It's nowhere near the depths of ASB&R or the worst bits of DK2. I don't know if I'd call it good, but I read it happily enough.