DK III is the sequel that never should have happened. Reading this latest issue from the creatives over at DC is a painful outing that only serves as a sharp reminder of why the Dark Knight Returns was a once in a generation story. This is like taking a selfie with a post card of the Mona Lisa and trying to convince people that it’s just a great as the original. It’s a sad copy of a copy of a copy of genius.
Miller’s original work was a character study. It was a journey into the psyche of an aging Bruce Wayne who couldn’t get away from the psychosis that compelled him to dress up as a dark warrior and venture into the night to fight a one man war against crime and injustice. It put readers in the aged leather cowl and forced them to witness the depths that Gotham had degraded to without Batman. It was a narrative on our society, on our leaders, on mass media, and our need to have heroes that would change and shape the world into a better place even if it meant risking death.
The Dark Knight Returns was a Batman story. He was the centerpiece, the focal point. Everything that happened in that masterwork was the effect of Bruce’s efforts. Superman entered the picture to stop Bruce; Carrie became part of the story because Bruce recruited her, the Joker reappears because Bruce has resurfaced wearing the Batsuit. Everything happens because of Batman. It is a Batman story.
Cut to DK II, where the focus is taken off of Bruce; sure it’s a Batman comic, but it is not a Batman story. We bounce from Batman to Superman to Robin to Atom to Supergirl … once Bruce is removed as our narrator and shuffled off to the sidelines the series fell apart in record time. There is a reason that DK II is on many “worst of” lists. It ultimately sucked. That should have been a lesson to the heads of DC that if you were going to tempt fate in this part of the DC universe again you better make damn sure that Batman was your focus.
They apparently were not paying attention.
DK III is an ongoing train wreck. The story has become so far removed from what made Dark Knight great that Batman has been moved from the sidelines to the showers; In fact this latest issue doesn’t have Bruce say a single word! Allow that last sentence to sink in. In a Dark Knight comic, Batman, the titular character and inspiration for the entire series, does NOT have a single line of dialogue in the entire issue!
Instead we focus on Superman, Robin, Supergirl, and everyone else but Batman. Sure, Superman is racing to get a dead Batman to the nearest Lazarus Pit, but this is just another example of how far off the rails this series has become. DC needs to stop this madness. They are only dumping on the original series at this point, A giant Cleveland steamer right in the middle of the Bat logo.
I understand that this is Miller’s baby. The comic world clamored for decades that we wanted him to come back. Then DKII happened and I thought that we all had learned our lesson at that point. This is just salt in the wound. It’s a terrible facsimile of the original … but that’s not even true, because to make that comparison is a huge disservice to the brilliance of the 1980’s masterpiece. Miller should have been stopped by editorial the moment that the script for the first issue came through.
It’s a vanity project that has gotten wildly out of control and no one at DC has the stones to put an end to it. Miller has earned his place in the pantheon of comic book legends, but that should never allow him the ability to ruin his legacy. It would have been a greater service to the man to just tell him that this wasn’t going to work, but I’m guessing that DC had dollar signs in their eyes and the thought of cashing in on the Bat fans was just too tempting to pass up.
This is a ride that I’m stepping off of and I strongly suggest that fellow fans of Miller’s original work and Batman do the same. This isn’t a series that we should support, promote, or even condone. It’s a black eye on the history of a wonderful creator, character, and series.
Final Thoughts: It’s time to give up the ghost. This series is just another thing that 2016 killed.
Final Score: 1 Star
DK III: The Master Race #7
Story: Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello
Art: Andy Kubert
Inks: Klaus JansonColors: Brad Anderson
Letters: Clem Roberts
Publisher: DC Comics