DC Comics and Frank Miller announced earlier today that Miller would be teaming up with Brian Azzarello (of 100 Bullets fame, as well as The Joker and Wonder Woman) to write the concluding chapter of the DKR saga, The Dark Knight III: The Master Race, to be released in Fall 2015.
I’m cautiously optimistic. After all, the original The Dark Knight Returns remains one of the most iconic stories in Batman history. I remember reading it when it originally came out and being absolutely astounded at the rawness and brutality of the story. Written at the author’s peak, Miller’s Batman was far more human and vulnerable than I had ever seen him. This was a man who could bleed and make mistakes and was painfully mortal. He was a flawed hero in a even more flawed world.
Then came The Dark Knight Strikes Again. And while there were some glimmers of that gritty, fatalistic world of the original (I still love the bit where Flash was blackmailed to run a giant generator that provided power to the Eastern seaboard), DK2 was ultimately forgettable. It heralded a string of critical misses for Miller, including the recent Holy Terror, a self-admitted “propaganda” piece that had originally been envisioned by Miller as Batman vs. Al Qaeda and was ultimately very poorly received.
Hopefully, with the assistance of Azzarello, Miller will be able to recapture the spark in The Dark Knight III that he caught nearly thirty years ago. After all, The Dark Knight Returns has remained influential to this day (all you have to do is watch the latest Batman v Superman trailer, which borrows liberally from that comic). Just from the cover, it seems that the Superman/Batman rivalry that has tinged the series will continue (and I’m glad to see more of Miller’s Supes–the sequence where he survives the nuclear bomb in DKR still haunts me). The path that Miller laid down all those years ago has since become well-worn. Here’s hoping that together with Azzarello, they can create an original, iconic chapter to send off the Dark Knight Returns universe.