Writers: Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello
Artists: Andy Kubert, Frank Miller and others
DC Comics, 2016
RESOLUTION IS THE HEART OF POWER is very often the message of heroes, asserting that will matters most to overcome impossible odds. Of course good will is also slaughtered by bad odds, and some ingenuity may be required as old-school Batman demonstrates in this amazing journey through DARK KNIGHT III, with a number of partners, including a complex Superman typical in the Frank Miller universe as if you see him for the first time through the eyes of the Batman, plus an indomitable Wonder Woman, and hapless but critical roles by the Atom and Green Lantern, and supporting cast with Robin, Aquaman, Flash, and Gotham police commissioner Ellen Yindel.
The center of the story involves the children of Superman and Wonder Woman: an infant son, and an adolescent daughter Lara who claims she is a Kryptonian one minute, and an Amazonian the next. Basically she is the catalyst for disaster. Superman won’t fight her. Wonder Woman wants to kick her ass, but the girl is part Kryptonian, so that’s not easy.
The pace of the story successfully echoes the Dark Knight style. The human element is portrayed with newscasters and other such making multiple points of observation, only here the little close-up boxes are less prominent, dribbling over a larger panorama of rioting panels that make every page new. Pencils by Andy Kubert are powerfully rendered, both real and active, one pole sort of cancelling the other as movement blurs the lines. The illustrative force is magnified by the larger design that gallops across the pages and leaps forward. For me, the portrayal of Wonder Woman as mother and warrior protecting home and hearth was the most thrilling part of the story, full of dynamism and gripping portraits. This is the Wonder Woman I always wanted to see.
Scenes with other characters gripped as well, feeling like a privilege to witness them here like this. I loved the role of the Atom; and the scenes with Green Lantern hovering or Aquaman ascending gave me shivers, as if these were historical moments in a classic confrontation the world barely survived.
No quibbles are possible comparing this version of the Dark Knight completed in 2017, with earlier versions. The story by Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello, and art by Andy Kubert, inks by Klaus Janson, and guest contributions on covers and breakdowns, including some issues pencilled by Frank Miller, make a diverse collection this time around, yet the whole story coheres, and ultimately well integrated. The nine-book hardbound collector’s edition in an illustrated box adds appeal. These books feel like art by the care in printing alone and respect for the color pages inside. Someday someone may look for the bones of the heroes by the record of these books, thinking this must be the way it happened in Gotham, at the Fortress of Solitude, in Amazonia, and beyond: potent enough for myths.
[Editor’s note: For another review of Dark Knight III please see https://www.worldcomicbookreview.com/2016/09/15/dark-knight-returns-iii-5-review/ ]