Frankly, it’s not a mas­ter­piece

SFX - - Reviews - Saxon Bul­lock

re­leased OUT NOW! Pub­lisher DC Comics

Writ­ers Frank Miller, Brian Az­zarello

Artists Andy Ku­bert, Frank Miller,

Ed­uardo Risso, John Romita Jr

Few comic books can match the rep­u­ta­tion of Frank Miller’s land­mark Bat­man story The Dark Knight Re­turns. Highly in­flu­en­tial, it’s a clas­sic that’s al­ready had one fol­low- up – the deeply flawed The Dark Knight Strikes Again ( DK2). Now DC are giv­ing us an­other in­stal­ment, in time to cap­i­talise on the Milleresque movie ac­tion of Bat­man V Su­per­man: Dawn Of Jus­tice.

How­ever, while Miller’s name is front and cen­tre on the cred­its of Dark Knight III: The Mas­ter Race, he’s only con­tribut­ing a small amount of art, and his pre- re­lease in­ter­views have cast doubt on how much of DK3 he ac­tu­ally wrote, sug­gest­ing this is largely co- writer Brian Az­zarello’s show.

Set three years af­ter the events of DK2, this eight- is­sue minis­eries sees the re­turn of Bat­man to the streets of Gotham, just as the sci­ence ex­per­i­ments of Ray “The Atom” Palmer ac­ci­den­tally re­lease a horde of crazed Kryp­to­nian religious fun­da­men­tal­ists from the bot­tle city of Kan­dor.

A world­wide ram­page soon be­gins, and there’s only one hero who can stop it – but while the se­ries has its at­ten­tion- grab­bing mo­ments, it mostly steers away from the cra­zier, more in­co­her­ent el­e­ments of Miller’s work on DK2 and All- Star Bat­man & Robin. In­stead, DK3 is a fo­cused comic- book thriller ex­e­cuted with plenty of style, and only oc­ca­sion­ally dragged down by some clang­ing di­a­logue.

Each is­sue fea­tures a back- up story il­lus­trated by a guest artist ( with the first done by Miller him­self ); mean­while main se­ries artist Andy Ku­bert does his best

A fo­cused thriller with plenty of style

Miller im­per­son­ation, cap­tur­ing the right vis­ual style.

How­ever, as with DK2, the broader per­spec­tive on the en­tire DC Uni­verse means The Mas­ter Race loses the sense of fo­cus that gave The Dark Knight Re­turns its im­pact and power. An early, po­ten­tially fas­ci­nat­ing plot twist is quickly re­versed for a more tra­di­tional set- up, while the story’s only truly con­tro­ver­sial as­pect treads wor­ry­ingly close to ter­ri­tory cov­ered in Miller’s 2011 graphic novel Holy Ter­ror. DK3 will sell in epic quan­ti­ties, but de­spite its slick and ef­fi­cient sto­ry­telling, there’s lit­tle to dis­tin­guish this from the avalanche of other Dark Knight-in­flu­enced grim su­per­hero sagas.

Due on 20 April: Dark Knight Re­turns: The Last Cru­sade, set 10 years be­fore DKR, which de­picts the death of Ja­son Todd.

You’ll need it.

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