Dark Knight III: The Master Race continues to be a series filled with great ideas and hit-or-miss execution. It’s the dynamics that are off. The creative team consistently nails the understated quiet moments but fumbles the big action spectacles. One could argue which aspect is more important to a story, but ultimately both are needed to make a fully satisfying and suitably momentous miniseries like this one feel whole. So here’s the good news:
This book gets Frank Miller’s Batman.
The previous issue ended with the promise that Bruce Wayne would finally take center stage, leaving me wondering exactly what kind of Batman would appear in this series. The gleeful lunatic seen in Dark Knight Strikes Again and All Star Batman would be out of place in the more grounded world of DKIII, but a retreat to the more disciplined and stolid Bats of DKR or Year One would feel like a cop out. Most importantly, I worried the dour and mostly humorless tone of DKIII would leave no room for a crucial but often overlooked aspect of Miller’s take on the character. That is, he loves being the goddamned Batman.
And while talk of Miller and his Dark Knight legacy invariably focuses on the “grim ‘n gritty” aspects, the pure joy Bruce gets leaping from rooftops, punching out bad guys, and generally striking terror has always been one of his defining characteristics. So in a story centered around themes of failure and regret, would there be a place for a Batman that’s just so damn jolly?