Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #175 - DK III The Master Race - book one
SPOILERS!!! PROCEED ONLY IF YOU'RE NOT GOING TO READ THIS ISSUE OR DON'T CARE.
And here we are again, in the continuing series of things you don't really care about, Mom, but will listen to politely, my thoughts on the new DARK KNIGHT comic. I had planned to write some quick thoughts right after the first issue came out, and then with exams and final grades, I did not get to it.
I had strong anticipation for the new series, DKIII, The Master Race, based solely on the iconic art seen in the banner up top and here. The striking image of Batman in silhouette had me eagerly anticipating a new installment of the seminal series, started all the way back in 1986. In a discussion in Fanfare, my local comic shop, when asked for my thoughts on Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again, I had no memory at all of the 2001-2002 series. And so, my anticipation of the new series was based more on the original than the forgettable sequel.
I remember that when my family and I were traveling in the U.K. in 1986, I forsook seeing the Tower of London and Buckingham palace with them to seek out London's Forbidden Planet comic shop in the West End to buy the recent issues of The Dark Knight Returns and The Watchmen, which I then read while drinking espresso at a cafe on Rupert Street where I also spent time writing poetry.
The original The Dark Knight Returns emerged in a halcyon era for comic books. DC was in one of its prime periods enjoying great success with The Teen Titans, Crisis on Infinite Earths, a reboot of Superman with John Byrne's Man of Steel as well as Alan Moore's Swamp Thing and new guy Neil Gaiman's Sandman on the horizon, DC was dominating the small industry with more successes to come, such as the Green Arrow pivotal prestige series Longbow Hunters, Frank Miller's next Batman project in Batman:Year One, Animal Man, and Doom Patrol among others. Sure, Marvel had the X-Men and strong work happening in Spider-Man, who found his black suit and one of his most compelling arch-enemies (Venom) in the mid-1980s, which all came out of Secret Wars, which was not nearly as excellent as Crisis on Infinite Earths. Arguably, DC had the better product for most of the 1980s, and one of the cornerstones of its pantheon of excellence was The Dark Knight Returns.
In The Dark Knight Returns, Batman fought Superman and won (sort of). The art followed clear lines. The book was published in a new prestige format on high quality paper, and the story telling techniques were innovative, much like American Flagg, popular at the time from First Comics.
Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again was dreck, which is why I forgot, at first that it even existed. With a little Wiki reading, I was pleased to see that I was not the only one who found it "disappointing" as the nicest way to categorize it.
According to the Wikipedia page for Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again, "The Dark Knight Strikes Again received heavily negative reviews. Grovel.org.uk gave The Dark Knight Strikes Again two stars out of five, and said that it "reads as a thunderous artillery barrage, all smoke and noise, lacking in nuance". Claude Lalumière of The Montreal Gazette gave the series a mixed review and said, "the script lacks the emotional nuances of its predecessor, and ... the artwork is rushed and garish", and that it "has considerable chutzpah, but its careless execution is regrettable". Roger Sabin of The Guardian wrote that the series has "flashes of brilliance—few can control page layouts like Miller—but in general the idea of the ironic superhero seems rather dated."
The first issue of "DK2" ranked #1 in December 2001 with pre-order sales at 174,339.  The second issue of DK2 was ranked third in sales for the January 2002 period with pre-order sales of 155,322. The final issue of the series had pre-order sales of 171,546 returning to #1 for the month of February 2002. "
|panel from DKIII - Adam Kubert|
The citations can be found by following the Wiki link above. So, critical reception was about the same as my reaction -- it's forgettable -- and yet sales were unaffected. But then, in comic books more than any other genre, sales do not correlate directly to satisfied readers. I highlighted the passages I found most compelling in the quoted Wiki text above and the text I find to be most indicative of my own feelings, causing me to forget the thing existed (even though I own a copy, though relegated to the basement, I am no longer staring at my book shelves every day). I reread the whole thing yesterday, and though it is not quite as bad as these passages make it out, I find the art just as described: "rushed and garrish." Yes, there are good moments, but the thing as a whole is pretty awful.
Given DKII, my enthusiasm should have been lower for DKIII, but then, I did not remember DKII, though I should have known it existed. After all, there could not be a DKIII without a DKII. Duh.
For DKIII, I like this review (mostly) from POP CULTURE UNCOVERED best.
In the review roundup, the overall rating is 7.7 from critics and 7.6 from readers. Though there is only one review at 10/10, there are FOURTEEN reviews between nine and nine point six. On the low end, there is a 2.0 and two at four from "critics." Though the term "critic" is used loosely in the comic book world. By and large, no qualifications are really needed or tested for being a critic of comic books.
Were I to post more often, I would qualify and could probably get Roundup to link my reviews. Some sites ask for writing samples and are somewhat picky, but most are not and many people can start their own sites and post their own reviews. There is no school for comic book critics, and one can assume that some may not have college educations.
In any case, my feelings about the comic are much in tandem Adam Frey of Pop Culture Uncovered.
It's disappointing that there's no "real" Batman in this comic. The twist that Carrie Kelly (from Robin, former Cat Girl) is masquerading as Batman and beating up cops for no reason (except that they seem intent to capture her but this alone is not a good reason) is a good one, but it's also disappointing in a first read given that she tells us that "Bruce Wayne is dead."
I must admit that in my first impression I had great anticipation based on my memory of The Dark Knight Returns. But then, in a first read, I was underwhelmed. I remembered being more powerfully moved by the first issue of the The Dark Knight Returns. Undoubtedly, I knew from the start that this project was a cash grab for Miller and DC Comics. DC has needed a hit after the abysmal Convergence crossover of 2015 and the low quality of most of its titles. And so, my first reaction was "meh." I was unimpressed and not blown away.
I disliked the cover art to the mini-comic as it harkened to the scribbled style of DKII. But I do like the Atom and the return to his story, started in DKII. I also like the introduction of Kandor and the questions surrounding it.
The Wonder Woman sequence may outshine the later battle between "Batman" and the Gotham cops, but both sequences are well-drawn, exciting, and arresting visually.
I am still not sold on Lara, Superman and Wonder Woman's daughter, as a character, but after how DKII ended with Superman capitulating to being a ruler of the planet with Lara, it's odd to see him frozen in a giant block of ice in this issue.
But most of these favorable impressions came from subsequent re-reads and the reading of reviews. In re-reading DKII, it's obvious that this comic is INFINITELY better than DKII with much stronger art, which makes all the difference. Kubert's art is smartly composed and relatable, unlike the scribbled mess that was DKII. And as Frey points out in the POP CULTURE UNCOVERED review, Miller's contributions may be minimal so we may have Azzarello to thank for most of the writing.
In multiple re-reads, I like the comic much better than I did the first time, and I am inclined to give it an 8/10 unlike Frey's 6/10.
Also, the fan community is all a titter about seeing Wonder Woman's nipple in the sequence in which she breast feeds her son. I do not think I even noticed this detail until I read it in a review and then went looking for it. Though it may be the first time we have seen Wonder Woman's bare nipple in a DC comic.
Frey even ends his review by using "wonder-nipples" as his rating system. Oh, please, grow up.
THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS - complete digital (follow the links for the whole graphic novel)
DARK KNIGHT III - THE MASTER RACE - book one - ROUND UP OF REVIEWS
Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.
- Days ago = 177 days ago
- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1512.29 - 11:24