Back in 1986 Frank Miller changed the landscape of the comics industry with the release of the seminal four-part deluxe series The Dark Knight Returns. Launched in an era of Watchmen, V For Vendetta and The Killing Joke it marked the beginning of huge change for DC and the comics industry in general as more adult themes filtered into the genre. 2001 saw Miller return to the ageing Bruce Wayne with The Dark Knight Strikes Again, expanding the pantheon of future characters to include Wonder Woman among others.
2015 brought Miller back to the story for the third time, this time partnered by co-writer Brian Azzarello on a nine issue core series supplemented by nine tie-in issues. This trade paperback pulls all 18 issues into one place.
Batman The Dark Knight: The Master Race sees Bruce Wayne continue to protect Gotham City, a fight he has yet to relinquish. Danger comes in the form of the former inhabitants of the bottled city of Kandor, the Kryptonian city first seen in Action Comics #242 back in 1958. Freed by Ray Palmer (The Atom), they demand that humanity bows down before them. Batman is forced to seed the clouds with synthetic Kryptonite so the human race can fight back, helped by Superman who wears a suit of armour to protect himself and his own extended life thanks to a dip in the Lazarus Pit.
There’s no doubt that Miller is a legend in the world of comics. His list of creations and high-profile contributions to numerous other properties are impressive to say the least, with the original Dark Knight Strikes sitting high on that roster. Many sequels fail to live up to the legacy of their predecessor and in 2001 The Dark Knight Strikes Again failed to match the impact of the 1986 classic. 15 years later, The Master Race once again falls short of achieving the impact of the original. Andy Kubert does a very passable classic Miller impression in the main title, but Miller’s rushed artwork in the tie-in issues (specifically his finishing on Dark Knight Universe Presents: Green Lantern #1 and his pen and ink on Dark Knight Universe Presents: Batgirl #1) is frankly embarrassing. Often salvaged only by the master strokes of inker Klaus Janson (with his involvement, Dark Knight Universe Presents: Strange Adventures #1 once again looks like vintage Miller) and a plot stretched over far too many issues, this series is reminiscent of a certain orange-haired buffoon who, like his predecessor Ronald Reagan thirty years before, appears regularly throughout the series – bloated, tiresome, promising much but ultimately failing to deliver.
BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT: THE MASTER RACE / AUTHORS: FRANK MILLER, BRIAN AZZARELLO / PUBLISHER: DC / RELEASE DATE: 19TH SEPTEMBER