The Dark Knight 3 The Master Race #2 Review

Twas the Dark Knight before Christmas and every creature was stirring, especially the Kryptonite mouse.

As Carrie matches wits with Yindel in the main event and Lara spars with her mother in the Eduardo Risso drawn minicomic, legacy and parenting weigh heavily on the second issue of DK3, or at least until the titular master race make their first appearance.

After nearly a month of incarceration following the brutal she sustained at the hands of the GCPD, Carrie begins to sound more and more like Bruce himself as she relates to Yindel how he died, then laughs and tells her that she ate the body, telling the commissioner it doesn’t matter what she believes. The interrogation sequence, with them seated opposite each other in a vast empty room, is where Kubert begins to exercise a lot more of a conscious attempt to follow Miller stylistically, most noticeably on the long shadows cast by the prison bars reminiscent of Sin City more than anything else, but the page layouts and increasing emphasis on smaller, tighter frames of the characters also speak a lot more to classic Miller than the opening effort. Still, Kubert widens back out to his more signature style for panels like a vicious flashback to Bruce’s fight with Luthor in DK2, so it seems as if Kubert and the writing team haven’t fully settled into a cohesive style.

Carrie’s story, all of it, is likely a lie however compelling it was as we see her rejoin Bruce in the Batcave after a daring escape from police transport using the old tank-like Batmobile that inspired the Nolan trilogy’s rambler. We also see narration from what sound to be a new iteration of the batboys still more or less using the mutant gang slang of the previous entries, leaving the style of the text messaging in the first issue a bit of a mystery as I’m pretty sure teens in Chicago don’t text like that, but we’ll see if the story does wind it’s way back to the racialized police violence that kicked everything off.

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Ray Palmer, after describing the nature of the difficulties he’s having with returning the people to scale to Lana, is put in touch with the ominously named Baal (much whiter and menacing looking than the WicDiv vintage) who, in the span of Carrie’s incarceration, has taught Palmer how to adapt to Kryptonian technology in order to unshrink them properly. Unfortunately, Palmer’s instincts don’t kick in until he’s already pressed the button and the first Kandorians out of the jar is the cult leader Quar and his followers, the inner circle of which appear to be wearing Arab coded clothing, with his several wives wearing what appear to be some sort of low cut hooded robes. The uneasiness surrounding Miller and his abortive screed against Islam, the Holy, Terror Batman! graphic novel that lost the Batman and gained a publisher at Legendary, are certainly, and regrettably rearing their heads here. Suffice to say that it would really suck if the hopes of closing out the Dark Knight trilogy without engaging with racist fearmongering were crushed along with Palmer’s skull.

What remains most promising about the series is Lara, who has a much more fraught relationship with her parentage than Carrie. In talking to Palmer as he works with Baal to restore the Kandorians, she distances herself from her father when he says that Superman is more human than she is, declaring herself to be an Amazon. When, in the mini comic, she grows tired of her sparring with her mother, she distances herself from Diana as well, declaring herself Kryptonian. Lara remains an exciting and compelling character because of how Azzarello and Miller focus on her being raised in secrecy under what amounted to enemy occupation and how that makes her feel like the Kandorians and their having been shrunk and isolated for so long are kindred spirits for her. Lara was raised hiding tremendous power that still continues to ache to be set loose unlike her parents who grew into theirs long before they fell under Luthor’s subjugation.

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Risso, joined by colorist Trish Mulvihill, makes a very strong argument not just for his inclusion in the project, but as someone with a Miller adjacent style who could carry the weight of the main series, especially given his long collaboration with Azzarello. I’m enjoying Kubert to a point, I don’t think that he’s a terrible choice for the series, but Risso shows him up tremendously with the energy and power he displays in the minicomic. While Kubert hugs close to the body language that Miller used on Lara and kept to on the previous minicomic, Risso stretches out to interpret her in his own way, keeping a strong component of her habit of tucking her legs and overing in an upright position, but using far more dramatic angles to communicate her power and more youthful, cocky expressions. Overall Risso is far more fluid in his figures and dramatic in their posing than either Kubert or current day Miller, but that, to an extent, accentuates this being a segment given over to Lara in a space where she can open up and assert herself.

Lara is a petulant brat, but under Risso’s pen she also has an engaging cheekiness to her that keeps her from being obnoxious or too remote. The presence and nuance that Risso gives her makes it feel like something has been pulled away and we’re truly able to take her in for the first time here. Whoever follows Risso in drawing her is going to have a real uphill climb if they want to make the same kind of impression unless Babs Tarr is waiting in the wings. All in all, there’s still more questions than answers, but the dynamics of the first major confrontation are beginning to shape up and it’s beginning to seem like Lara is the swing vote with very little to endear her to Bruce and Carrie’s side thus far.

Written by Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello

The Dark Knight 3 #2 drawn by Andy Kubert with inks by Klaus Janson and colors by Brad Anderson

The Dark Knight Universe Presents Wonder Woman #1 drawn by Eduardo Risso with colors by Trish Mulhvill

Letters by Clem Robins

The Dark Knight 3 The Master Race #2
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Emma Houxbois

Emma Houxbois is a fiercely queer trans woman from the wilds of Canada, most recently spotted in the Pacific Northwest. She is a two time IWC Women’s World Champion and has written about comics for the web since 2005 for sites including Playboy, Bitch Media, and Graphic Policy.

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