Sunday, 10 January 2016

Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1 - DC Comics

Topping the “Diamond Comics Distributors” November 2015 Comic Book Sales Figures Chart having sold a truly staggering 440,234 copies, this first instalment of Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello’s eight-issue “DC Comics” limited series certainly lives up to the Maryland-born writer’s promise of the narrative having “more deliberate focus on women than [in] previous volumes”. In fact, the twenty-eight page periodical almost exclusively focus’ upon the super-heroines of the Kirby Award-winner’s “Dark Knight Universe” such as Wonder Woman, Carrie Kelley (Robin) and Superman’s daughter Lara.

But just because Azzarello’s script, apparently written “with Miller’s blessing and guidance”, is devoid of Bruce Wayne doesn’t necessarily mean that its titular character is absent as well. Indeed it is the apparent brutal return of the Caped Crusader at the very start of the story, pounding a couple of flatfoots into submission when they’re about to shoot an unarmed fleeing ‘fugitive’ in the back, which sets proceedings in motion and ultimately results in a ferociously bloody confrontation between Batman and Gotham City’s Police Department at the comic’s conclusion; “Had enough? Using that right to remain silent…”

Equally as perplexing as the Dark Knight’s rather ‘gung ho’ attitude to his home’s law enforcement officers, albeit this motivational change is arguably answered by the crimefighter’s eventual unmasking, is this comic’s slightly disappointing dedication to events which occur outside the vigilante’s metropolis. For just under half of the storyline to “Book One” actually spotlights Wonder Woman’s Amazonian rule as Queen Diana and Supergirl’s visit to her father’s Fortress of Solitude rather than the main protagonist’s mysterious three year-long absence.  

Fortunately such potential distractions concerning the other members of “DC Comics” Trinity are totally justifiable when they are so well-drawn by Andy Kubert. The New Jersey-raised penciller’s style strongly mimic’s that of Miller’s own artwork during this series’ original 1986 four-issue run and proves especially energetic during Diana’s jungle battle with a four-legged Minotaur and Batman’s fisticuffs with Commissioner Yindel’s men.

This edition also features the additional bonus of a twelve-page “mini-comic focusing on a different character from the Dark Knight continuity”. Co-written and actually drawn by Miller himself, “The Atom” provides any bibliophiles willing to scrutinize the diminutive publication with a tiny amount of background as to what has occurred to Doctor Raymond Palmer since his wife divorced him and also manages to progress the storyline started by Lara’s angst-ridden trip to her icily immobile father’s abode.
Story: Frank Miller & Brian Azzarello, Pencils: Andy Kubert, and Inks: Klaus Janson

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