Sunday, 21 August 2016

Dark Knight III: The Master Race #3 - DC Comics

The top-selling book in March 2016, at least according to “Diamond Comic Distributors”, Issue Three of “Dark Knight III: The Master Race” must have proved a genuinely frightening reading experience for the vast majority of its 146,044 owners with an opening that sees an elderly, and evidently impotent, Bruce Wayne witnessing the atomic destruction of several major international cities as a result of Quar of Krypton’s much-maligned influence. Indeed it’s hard to imagine a more horrifying world than one in which super-strong flying ‘Gods’ can arbitrarily pluck hapless humans from the world’s surface, nonchalantly break their spines in front of a television cameraman, and then offhandedly allow the corpse to tumble back down through the clouds towards the ground far below; “People of Earth… It’s over. All of it. This is the end of your depression. Your shackles are gone. Fall to your knees…”

However, the harrowing sight of Moscow being flattened beneath a mushroom-shaped explosion is just the start of Frank Miller’s remarkably unpleasant vision of living (and dying) within his ‘Dark Knight Universe’, as the multiple Kirby-Award winner’s plot quickly establishes that the “broken” Batman is only going to be able to save the day by traipsing to Superman’s Fortress of Solitude in order to cajole the Man of Steel from out of his icy slumber. Dispiritingly though, even the Boy Scout’s colourful revitalisation and promise of righting wrongs is swiftly scotched and replaced with more maddening desolation, courtesy of Kal-El’s horrific realisation as to what “my people” have done during his absence, and his daughter’s subsequent defection to the side of the murderous Kandorians.

All of this desperation and despair is superbly rendered by Andy Kubert, “a veteran in the industry, but a newcomer to the Dark Knight saga”. In fact the America penciller’s exposure to the “old-timers” whilst studying “at my dad’s [Joe Kubert] school” has clearly enabled him to mimic the Maryland-born author’s easily recognisable old drawing-style to perfection, and his single splash depicting Superman effortlessly escaping his frozen throne simply by standing up is demonstrative of an illustrator operating at his professional best.

Equally as bleak and disheartening as this publication’s lead narrative, is its mini-comic concerning Hal Jordan’s initial meeting with three of Quar’s ‘daughters’ as they deface the Sphinx in Egypt. Initially bemused by the beauties sexually-charged request for him to change them and “make us surrender… to you”, Brian Azzarello’s script shocking turns very dark as John Romita Junior draws the Green Lantern suddenly having his ring-hand severed by one of the young ladies laser eye-beams.
Story: Frank Miller & Brian Azzarello, Pencils: Andy Kubert, and Inks: Klaus Janson

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