Saturday, 16 June 2018

Dark Knight III: The Master Race #9 - DC Comics

DARK KNIGHT III: THE MASTER RACE No. 9, July 2017
Despite this twenty-seven page periodical being “initially advertised” as the culmination of Frank Miller’s nine-issue long “DC Comics” storyline, as well as “the conclusion to the Dark Knight series” itself, it is clear from this publication’s tantalising conclusion, which depicts both a rejuvenated Batman and symbolically less colourfully-attired Batwoman taking to Gotham City’s roof-tops in order to continue their ever-vigilant fight against crime, that the Maryland-born screenwriter undoubtedly still had a number of “plans that have been running through my mind” as to the future of the Caped Crusader’s “noir-style” adventures on Earth-31. In fact, the Inkpot Award-winner actually announced “in November 2015… [that] he planned to produce a fourth mini-series to conclude the story” after ‘thoroughly applauding’ what his collaborator, Brian Azzarello, had accomplished with this title.

Perhaps somewhat contentiously though, arguably the most exciting of these potential future plots is actually the penning pair’s exploration of the Man of Steel rather than Bruce Wayne’s alter-ego. Naturally, the narrative behind Book Nine of “Dark Knight III: The Master Race” understandably depicts the titular character leading the fight against the remaining Kandorian cultists, and rather ably outwitting them with the aid of thousands of screeching bats; “To hell with they. I mean, they say money is the root of all evil, right? And that an old dog can’t learn new tricks. But nothing about a new dog using old tricks.”

However, whilst this innovative sequence not only disposes of nearly all the Leader of the Master Race’s forces, but also shows just how well “the world's greatest detective” understands what people will do “in unexpected extreme situations” and his ability to use such “friendly fire” to his advantage, it is soon quickly surpassed by a genuine ‘Superman’ moment as Jor-El’s son shockingly reveals just how much “he’s been holding back” in his past battles by shattering the collarbone of the truly obnoxious Baal, and doubtless causing 103,319 exhilarated readers to suddenly hear the familiar opening notes to John Williams’ iconic 1978 motion picture theme tune in their heads. Such one-upmanship by the “Big Blue Boy Scout” arguably leads to Jerry Siegel’s co-creation overshadowing Batman during this magazine’s most memorable moment, and suggests a pattern which debatably could well intensify further should Miller make good on his promise for a fourth instalment...

Sadly, the same cannot be said for Frank’s “Dark Knight Universe Presents: Action Comics” script, with the micro-magazine not quite managing to replicate the enthralling mix of characters which this book’s main story succeeds in achieving, and resultantly simply appears to little more than a rather lifeless list concerning the exploits of Batman, Batwoman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Wonder Woman, The Atom, Lara and Superman. Admittedly, the American author desperately tries to imbue this ‘short’ with some emotional gravitas, courtesy of its dramatic narration, yet even Diana’s tantalising confrontation with a multi-headed hydra or Hal Jordan’s all-too brief intervention with an erupting volcano, can’t help liven up Clark Kent’s laboriously-long conversation with his disagreeably dislikable daughter.

‘First published on the "Dawn of Comics" website.'
Story: Frank Miller & Brian Azzarello, Pencils: Andy Kubert, and Inks: Klaus Janson

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