By Jonathan Edwards
I don't like Frank Miller. Not just because he's a shitty person, nor because his writing's gotten definitively worse over the last decade or so. With maybe one or two exceptions, I've never liked his work. Brian Azzarello is a lot more middle of the road. From what I've read, he tends to be decent at the very least (Moonshine, for one, has been pretty good so far, though definitely not the best thing coming out from Image right now). However, I'm pretty sure Azzarello is the only thing keeping this book from taking a straight nosedive into pure awfulness. It's long been presumed that he was taking on the brunt of the writing with this series, and some of Miller's own comments, explaining his writing of a fourth entry in the Dark Knight series, more or less confirms that. It's too bad that he can only do so much here, and it really isn't enough. Despite attempts to veil the rampant Islamophobia Miller threw around in Holy Terror, it still ends up about as subtle as a truck. Well, if you want to call portraying the Kandorians as blatant and over the top religious zealots utilizing suicide bombers "veiled." And if that weren't enough, issue #7 of this shit show advocates for police brutality. Way to go. Yet, can this penultimate issue turn it all around and make this a worthwhile book? Nope, not in the slightest.
Okay, to be fair, it is kind of neat to see the Kandorians have to face off against magic and not be prepared for it. Although, the book still manages to mess that up with narration boxes that make it feel more like plot convenience instead of the established aspect of Superman's lore that it is. There wasn't anything else in the issue I could bring myself to care about. Batman's back from the Lazarus pit, apparently without any sign of the normally requisite insanity. Bruce and Carrie have a moment that feels dangerously similar to the skeezy Batman/Batgirl relationship from the recent Killing Joke animate movie. Then, Wonder Woman and the Amazons pretty much just fight Kandorians for the rest of the issue. Although, she does get her own uncomfortable "erotic" moment when she makes out with Superman while covered in blood.
The additional insert mini-comics that come with each of this series have never been good either, and Dark Knight Universe Presents: Detective Comics #1 is no exception. It pretty much amounts to "hey, do you care about what Yindel is doing right now? No? Well, we're going to show you anyway." There's some weird subplot involving Bruno that gets dropped almost as quickly as it's introduced. I know I'm supposed to care about what happens here (and in the rest of the book, for that matter), but it took so much time to get going, while also going nowhere, that's it's all just a big, convoluted waste of time.
The art in the main book is fine, stupid character designs notwithstanding. Unfortunately, it does nothing to elevate the story. Really, it feels like the story is bogging down the art by providing such a bland context for it all. Furthermore, Miller's art in the insert is surprisingly decent at first. And then, is runs headfirst into poses, expressions, and panels that just look wrong, as well as at least one big failure in sequential art. Seriously, the jump to the last page from the one before makes no sense.
This series wasn't good, still isn't good, and it won't ever be good. I'm certain the last issue will do nothing to change that. If, for some reason, you like all the nothing that's been done so far, or if you're reading for the morbid curiosity of it (like me) I guess picks this up. Otherwise, you can, and should, steer clear of this one. I can't wait to see the conclusion that won't actually be a conclusion and only lead into more of Miller's mad ramblings.
Dark Knight III: The Master Race #8