REVIEW: Dark Knight 3 – The Master Race #3

I have a Batman wallpaper on the desktop of my computer. The image is painted by the legendary Alex Ross. The shot is Batman caught in a searchlight, his cape wrapped around him like Bela Lugosi in those Universal Dracula films. That’s it. It’s not a big action pose, it only fills about an 8th of the screen, the rest is inky darkness. There is not a lot to the image, but what’s there matters. What you don’t see is almost as important as what’s visible. It’s a master artist showing how to tell a story in just a few small brush strokes.

Frank Miller used to be able to do this. He was a master at taking just a few lines, some shadow, and whipping up powerful images that burned their way into the reader’s mind. Dark Knight Returns, 300, Sin City, Daredevil, and many more all hold reminders of the genius of Miller. DK3 will never and should never be mentioned in the same breath as those other great works. This is the swan song of an amazing career coming to a close. This is the final whimper of a mighty lion that once proudly roared. This, my comic book brothers and sisters is pure shite. Frank is only writing this book, because even he, the man behind the original 80’s masterpiece, could not even be bothered to add his art to this pile of steaming
doggy-doo. I thought DK2 was the low point, I thought that surely Frank wouldn’t come back with something even worse. Surely the man who had been hailed a comic genius for decades would have the gumption and the know-how to come back to the fold with a tale of more substance to make up for his previous transgression.

Boy! Was I wrong! This title is a disaster from page one and doesn’t stop till the last panel. Bruce is now a crippled old man who refuses to put on the suit because he fears that he will be a liability. He drones on for pages about how Carrie is better than he ever was and how he is so battered that he can barely walk. Cut to the next scene where this decrypted old man is pushing his way through the Arctic to get to Superman’s fortress of solitude…wait….what? Didn’t he just say that he could barely walk? Didn’t he just bemoan the fact that his frail body would be a liability to Carrie because she would be more worried about him instead of focusing on the mission?!? And yet he is fit enough, and physically capable enough to wonder through the frozen waste of the Arctic to get to Superman? Then we watch as Bruce swings a sledgehammer the size of Robin to break Superman free from his  frozen throne!!!

When did Clark reverse in age? In DKR supes had put a few years on his face, in DK2 he was a little younger, in this series he looks so young that he might be the New 52 Supes…I didn’t bother to check. Someone might want to ask Frank if Clark is secretly hiding the spring of eternal youth in the fortress. I fully understand that superman ages slower than everyone else, but now he appears to be going backwards! I’m not even going to get into the recycled elements of this book. There are too many to list. From the multiple political points being spouted on every page. (Just like in the original Dark Knight Returns) To rouge Kryptonians being the bad guys. (Superman 2’s plot) To Batman confronting the Alien invaders (We saw Grant Morrison do it better in his JLA run) Everyone is trotted out for this political punchline. There are caricatures of the president, Donald Trump, various Fox and CNN news anchors and talk show hosts. Miller’s need to be relevant comes off desperate, to the point that you feel almost uncomfortable reading the book. It would have been less smarmy to just have a caption box that said, “Hey kids! I watch TV! I know what social media is! Look! I’m trying to  relate to you!” It’s pandering and it sucks. The story is stale. The characters fall flat. There is not one single moment that deserves to be held up in comparison with the  original Dark Knight Returns.Not one panel.

I get more depth and emotion from my Alex Ross wallpaper than this title will ever achieve. Face it Frank, it’s time to hang it up.You’ve become a parody of your own Batman. You’re old, out of touch, and well past your usefulness. It’s time to pass the torch and let the younger guns leave their mark. You were great, but you need to stop. You’re just embarrassing yourself.

Story: Frank Miller & Brian Azzarello
Art: Andy Kubert
Inks: Klaus Janson
Colors: Brad Anderson
Letters: Clem Robins
Publisher: DC

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