Lara takes on her father, Superman, at the behest of Quar while the world watches on. Not fully relying on Superman, Batman puts his own plan into action. How does it fare?
Dark Knight III: The Master Race #4 begins with an epic beat down of Superman, who is attempting to reason with his daughter, Lara. The beat down deserves the term epic as it is not only extremely visually pleasing, but the imagery and the dialogue allow the beat down to become something greater than just a beat down.
Iconic Washington, D.C. monuments are destroyed, representing the ineffectiveness of human governments to control the godlike beings from Krypton. In addition to this imagery, writers Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello’s dialogue reveals not only a generational gap between Superman and Lara, but also the inexperience of youth and how easy it can be manipulated and even turned against those it used to hold dearest. The battle is also juxtaposed to Batman and Carrie Kelley, offering a stark contrast between Lara and Kelley as the one radically opposes her father and the other stays loyal.
The book also touches on the failings of democracy and that even despite overwhelming odds and negative public opinion there is value in standing up for what you believe in. Once again, Miller touches on this theme by contrasting different characters; in this case he uses Wonder Woman and the Flash. Their differing reactions to certain decisions made by government actors and the will of the people allow us to see who these characters really are when a tough decision needs to be made.
The book is far from perfect. While the story touches on a number of these high concept issues is quite entertaining, there are a few technical issues. For one, when Miller introduces the Flash a character interrupts his travels. It is unclear who exactly this character is and what their purpose for attacking the Flash is. In fact, the character’s resemblance to Batman is uncanny and can be quite confusing in determining who he is, especially since Miller and Azarello don’t elaborate any further on this scene.
After the initial beat down, the book suffers from a few poor transitions. These come in the second half of the book when Miller and Azzarello are showing us different characters. There is no real easing into them; we end up flipping the page and there they are. It disrupts the flow of the book and makes the second half feel very choppy.
The book is also book-ended with two pages of the Atom. There isn’t any context provided for these pages, so you might have to go back and reread the previous issues to figure out what exactly is happening to him. If your memory is like mine, it might need a refresher.
Andy Kubert’s pencils are top-notch. The only real issue is the aforementioned character who attacks the Flash. However, the subsequent pages are absolutely brilliant and the damage seen on the page is brutal. You can feel the pain in your own extremities by just looking at the image.
Kubert excels with characters’ facial features. You can see the cold determination on Lara’s face as she pursues her father and Quar’s sickening, amusing smile as he watches his manipulation of Lara succeed.
At one point towards the end of the beat down with Superman, Kubert does make it a little difficult to really figure out what exactly is happening. He could have added an inset panel zooming in on the scene to show us what exactly Quar’s followers were doing. It’s fascinating that he doesn’t do this given that on the next page he does.
Dark Knight III: The Master Race #4 explores a number of deep issues in interesting and iconic ways. It’s a complex and entertaining story that pushes characters to the brink and forces them to make tough decisions to really reveal exactly the kind of character that they are. While the story in general is very good, it does suffer from a number of technical issues including a poor character design and some very rough transitions in the second half of the book. I definitely recommend you grab this one, despite the problems.
- Addresses a number of deep complex issues
- Pushes characters to their limits forcing them to make tough, critical decisions
- Some breathtaking artwork during the beat down sequence
- Poor character design during the Flash sequence
- Very rough transitions in the second half of the book
- Lack of context for the Atom in this issue