A near-mythical legend returns to right the wrongs of the present day. Does he have the means, the will and the strength to triumph in this overwrought, and exceedingly negative time now that age, reputation and criticism stand alongside both his new and old antagonists?
And that’s just writer Frank Miller!
Never mind his most famous and critically acclaimed fictional version of Batman, found in 1986’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
No, we’re focusing on the main draw here, Miller and his third instalment in that three decades old franchise, Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1 – released today!
Follow me after the jump for the dark and stormy tell-all.
Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1
Written by: Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello
Illustrated by: Andy Kubert and Klaus Janson
Published by: DC Comics
In 1986, Frank Miller’s (along with inker Klaus Janson and colourist Lynn Varley) dark, moody and violent four-part, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns changed comics. Along with Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, it’s held up by fans and critics alike as the high watermark of the comic book medium, challenging expectations and ushering the genre into a fiction rooted in, if often exaggerated, late twenty-first century realism.
For a while, that sense of hard-hitting realism killed comic books for an entire generation of readers who were drawn to the genre for some semblance of escapism and fun.
Miller returned to his dour, older Batman figure with the three issue The Dark Knight Strikes Again in 2001, this time bringing back that late nineteen sixties and early nineteen seventies sense of adventure and fun to the story. Strangely, it wasn’t well taken and many thought that the aging visionary had lost his fire.
Now, nearly thirty years after the original mini series inspired so many writers and artists and readers, Miller returns with Dark Knight III: The Master Race. And this time, he’s brought friends.
In truth, no one is too certain how involved Frank Miller is with Dark Knight III: The Master Race. Brian Azzarello, himself a critical and fan favourite writer, shares storytelling chores, while Andy Kubert, one of the industry’s best, is on art duties. Klaus Janson returns to ink Kubert, helping to keep some semblance of artistic continuity on the series. Interviews and reports suggest that Miller had a hand in crafting the story, but it was Azzarello who was the impetus to even begin the tale – as well as move it forward. How heavy is Miller’s hand with Dark Knight III: The Master Race?
Of course, DC Comics, the publisher, is looking at shipping as many copies of the eight part series as possible, and Miller’s name across the top of the front cover still holds much cache.
There’s a lot of mystery surrounding the new story and it looks like DC has built a number of tie-in’s to move units and create revenue around it. Still, Dark Knight III: The Master Race is an important book, chiefly because of Miller – and because of how important Batman: The Dark Knight Returns remains in the vast library of comic book art and sequential storytelling.
Make the run to your local comic book shop today and pick up Dark Knight III: The Master Race. Good or bad or in-between, it’s going to be a fascinating read.
And be back here first thing tomorrow morning for our review of the first issue, as we discover if the new series, created firmly in the twenty-first century, lives up to all the excitement surrounding it.