Batman: The Dark Knight: Master Race Continues Frank Miller’s Epic Saga

If you’re reading this, there’s a very strong chance that you have some level of familiarity with Frank Miller’s immortal classic, The Dark Knight Returns (DKR). Since its original publication in the mid-1980’s, it’s managed to change the way mainstream outlets view the comic book industry, been adapted to an animated feature, and has influenced countless other Batman comics – along with several of the live action films.

So, when the acclaimed author rolled out the sequel that was The Dark Knight Strikes Again! (DK2) back in 2001, expectations were understandably high. Unfortunately, it didn’t reach the bar that its predecessor did, but we’re happy to say that the threequel – Dark Knight III: The Master Race – has lived up to the legacy of the original, with the collected edition undergoing a slight re-titling of Batman: The Dark Knight: Master Race.

This time around, Miller brought along a co-writer in the form of Brian Azzarello (Batman: Broken City, Joker), who no doubt helped in bringing some modern sensibility to what we’d hesitate to call the third part in a trilogy because, well, Miller has expressed interest in writing a Dark Knight IV at some point. Also on board is fan favorite artist Andy Kubert (Damian: Son of Batman), who did an incredible job of reworking his style so it conformed to the precedent set by Miller. Really, it holds up when placed side-by-side with DKR, no doubt thanks to Klaus Janson’s inks.

To describe the story in a nutshell, it picks up three years after the events of DK2 and sees a legion of fanatics liberated from the bottled Kryptonian city of Kandor, all of whom now have designs on overtaking the Earth. It’s up to Batman, Superman, an ever-evolving Carrie Kelley and other aging members of the Justice League to neutralize this threat in a tale that serves as an allegory to what happens when political and religious extremism are taken to their logical ends.

Those of you who followed this series in periodical format no doubt remember the minicomics that were included, each of which focused on a different DC character, simultaneously broadening “the Dark Knight Universe” and serving as important sides to the main narrative. This time, however, these interludes are presented full size, thus allowing for one fluid reading experience.

Having recently re-read the threequel in trade format, I can personally say that it’s a worthy successor to DKR in every sense. The story is quite powerful, chock full of the witty dialogue you’ve come to expect from this grizzled version of the Caped Crusader. Plus, there were many subtleties – especially in Kubert’s artwork – that I picked up on the second time around, so be sure to savor every panel in what’s easily one of the definitive books featuring Batman to have been released in this decade.

Batman: The Dark Knight: Master Race arrives in comics shops on September 20.