By Jonathan Edwards
Holy god, this shitheap of mediocrity is finally over. You really have to wonder what the creative team was doing during those extra months between issues. Because, they sure as hell didn't use that time to create a superior book. Seriously, a year and a half to get out nine issues averages about one every two months (remember, this was supposed to be a monthly title), and they've all been bland at best. It's even worse when you juxtapose it with what DC is doing with a fair amount of their Rebirth titles. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Nightwing, and The Flash, to name a few, have been shipping semimonthly since June of last year, and they've all been a far cry better than DK3. Whereas here we've been subjected the awfulness that is contemporary Frank Miller filtered through Brian Azzarello, who only succeeds in stripping away the lion's share of poor taste that would likely be there otherwise. Other than the, y'know, barely masked Islamophobia and support for police brutality in the name of "justice," that is. So, I welcome this end. And funnily enough, this might be the best, or at least close to it, this series has been. But, again, that's not saying a lot.
Long story short, Batman's young again, and they beat the Kandorians. Yippee. Although, some questions do crop op along the way. Firstly, are Miller and Azzarello just ignoring the side effectsof the Lazarus Pits? Isn't there supposed to be a resultant bout of insanity from those who use them? I guess not, since Bruce comes out all fine and dandy and immediately capable of being Batman again. Sure, whatever. Second, how exactly does an enormous colony of bats actually overwhelm the Kandorians? I mean yeah, there's a lot of them, but are there really enough that a friggin' army of metahumans can't handle them without accidentally taking themselves out at the same time? They do have powers beyond just heat vision. Finally, how is anyone, let alone Batman, surprised that Superman is much stronger than the Kandorians and has been holding back? Are we meant to infer that because he was dormant for a while, Clark wasn't as strong? And even if that was what they were going for, wouldn't a lifetime living under yellow sun radiation still give him a substantial edge over the inhabitants of a city that had been being kept in his Fortress of Solitude? Bruce not being aware of this, or at least not suspecting it, seems drastically out of character for the "World's Greatest Detective."
As far as the accompanying one-shots go, this issue's Dark Knight Universe Presents: Action Comics #1 is fairly decent. I was actually somewhat digging it until about the time that it's revealed that Clark has been the narrator. After that, it takes a turn into "Superman isn't really human" territory, and that always immediately loses me. Because, that's not his character. That's what people who don't understand his character think it is. Last week's Trinity Annual #1 got it right when that book's Batman described him as "the most human man I know whose powers will always set him apart as alien, driven by those he couldn't save." I think they're trying to capture that sentiment here, but it's immediately betrayed by lines like "I wish I could say I was only human."
The art here, even Miller's in the one-shot, is all fine, so at least there's that. Although, ending on a panel that's very obviously meant to harken back to the original The Dark Knight Returns does end up feeling like something of a cop out when Miller has already publicly stated that he fully intends on doing a fourth installment. Maybe this is Azzarello and/or artist Andy Kubert's attempt at convincing him not to go through with that. Otherwise, it's just a superficial reference that will more than likely be contradicted by Miller when he goes through with his fourth book anyway.
In conclusion, not just to this review but also the series, is the eponymous "master race" supposed to be referring to the Kandorians? That would be my first guess, but I'm never sure when Miller's involved. Furthermore, I could be wrong, but the Kandorians actions really just don't seem equivalent enough to warrant such a loaded comparison. Mostly, it's just "let us rule the world or else." Then again, it could always just be tasteless shock value attempting to hook readers. And truthfully, they were probably successful in that regard. DK3 is not a series I think is ultimately worth reading, but at least it doesn't end on a mean-spirited and awful note. Instead, it's much more of a "meh, alright I guess."
Dark Knight III: The Master Race #9