– by Joseph Jammer Medina

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THIS WEEK I sit down and review issue 3 of Brian Azzarello and Frank Miller’s DARK KNIGHT III.


Obviously, expectations going into this series were pretty darn high. Despite the fact that THE DARK KNIGHT STRIKES AGAIN failed miserably as a story, and that Frank Miller hasn’t exactly been up to snuff as of late, the fact that he’d return to the whole DARK KNIGHT continuity still seemed to spark something inside fans. The addition of Azzarello as a writer didn’t hurt either.

The first two issues were a slow burn, getting the readers up to speed on what’s happened to this world in the many years since we’ve last seen the characters. I wouldn’t call these issues entertaining, but they did a relatively good job of setting the stage for things to come, and even managed to illicit a borderline tear-jerking moment from this poor sap of a writer.

The art in this comic manages to capture some truly beautiful imagery.

The art in this comic manages to capture some truly beautiful imagery.

With this new issue, the actual plot of the story kicks into action. After spending so time in the small, snowglobe-sized city of Kandor, the villains of the story set into motion their plan of taking over the earth. In true dramatic fashion, they reveal themselves to the general populace, demanding that all humans bend the knee to them as gods. Though, of course, our Dark Knight isn’t one to take something like this laying down. But in order to make a difference, he must grit his teeth and do something he hates more than almost anything else: ask the help of a fellow super.

So far in the story, the comic has done a great job of taking those seemingly-irrelevant bits at the end of each issue and naturally incorporating them into the story. What I thought was a single, standalone story about the Atom in the first issue turned out to be the fulcrum on which the entire story is based, and Lara’s squabble with Wonder Woman last issue came back in a big way in this issue, giving the plot an added heft that may have otherwise been missing.

Though as great as I believe the technical elements of the storytelling are, like with the first two issues, I can’t really say I’m completely engrossed in the tale. Perhaps it’s all part of the problem of reading a serialized story month-to-month (trust me, I’ll go back and do a marathon read as soon as the issue is over), but with the exception of perhaps Bruce Wayne, I’m feeling very little connection to many of these characters. Yes, Azzarello (who I am assuming is doing most of the writing) is technically giving reasons and motivations behind some of the actions in here, but as a reader, it just isn’t clicking. Perhaps it’s the fact that I can see the storytelling strings, or maybe it’s just that in true Frank Miller-style, all the narration is giving the story an added distance that keeps me from relating to what I’m seeing on the page.

The talking heads style Frank Miller brought to THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS continues in this issue, used to diminishing effect.

The talking heads style Frank Miller brought to THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS continues in this issue, used to diminishing effect.

Another minor flaw of the story has to do with its opening issues. The first two issues dealt with the “return” of Batman. With such a flashy entrance, I was led to believe that there was a reason for this return. Why come back now of all times? There has to be a reason, right? That’s a plot point that seems to have been thrown to the wayside in favor of the main story, and now it just so happens that Batman is back in time to take action against these new villains, who are masquerading as “gods.”

And on that note, we have my final problem thus far, which lies in the villains. While they’re definitely quite a force to be reckoned with, we know little to nothing about these guys. To me, they’re just a means to a paper-thin premise, and I’m waiting for some real motivations behind these guys to make me care. While yes, having a great villain for our heroes to go up against is essential, it certainly helps when you become invested in their scheme as well. As it stands, Quar is just an ass with a god complex. He makes speeches like a typical mustache-twirling villain, and as an adult reader, it’s something I don’t really find interesting.

So far, I don't find the flamboyant, mustache-twirling villain to be all that interesting.

So far, I don’t find the flamboyant, mustache-twirling villain to be all that interesting.

Again, I fully recognize that these are all issues that can be remedied in the next five issues of the comic, but as of now, I am a bit concerned that this story will end up being a flat counterpart to the original DARK KNIGHT RETURNS comic. While even that particular graphic novel had its problems with distanced storytelling, we got to understand the motivations behind most characters in it, giving some much-needed heft to the premise. We haven’t had that quite yet with this story, with the key word being yet.

Though as critical as I’m being, I have to say, there’s nothing so far that’s set off any huge red flags. The storytelling is okay on a technical level, and there’s nothing that leaps out as completely terrible, but I haven’t found myself as engaged asI’d like to be. As of right now, if I were a fan who hasn’t started to read this tale yet, I’d wait for at least six or seven issues to come out before I’d hop into it. As it stands, none of these have been fulfilling enough just yet to warrant buying.

Have you had a chance to check out issue 3 of DARK KNIGHT III: THE MASTER RACE yet? What were your thoughts? Be sure to let us know in the comments down below!

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Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.