[World of Bats] Dark Knight III: The Master Race + DKR: The Last Crusade

Hello and welcome to the World of Bats, the Batman Book Club!

This week we’re finishing our look at the work of Frank Miller on Batman (for now) by reading the epic Dark Knight III: The Master Race. This nine-issue mini-series is co-written by Frank Miller & Brian Azzarello, with art in the main series by Andy Kubert. Each issue also has backup stories written by Miller and Azzarello with art by Frank Miller, Eduardo Risso, and John Romita Jr.

Link to the mini-series can be found here: DC UNIVERSE INFINITE

And as an extra, we’ll be reading the prequel that was released around the same time, “The Dark Knight Returns: The Last Crusade,” by Miller & Azzarello, with art by John Romita Jr.

As the Joker is manically returned to Arkham Asylum, Bruce Wayne is struggling to train his sidekick and heir apparent, the new Robin, Jason Todd. While a new string of bizarre killing sprees involving Gotham City’s elite take up Batman and Robin’s attention, critics begin to question if the Dark Knight has a right to endanger the life of a child. What does night after night of danger and brutality do to a child? And what is the Joker planning?

Link to the one-shot OGN can be found here: DC UNIVERSE INFINITE

Now, you might be thinking, “Man, that’s a lot of comics.” And you’d be right. So, with that in mind, we’ll go for two weeks, 2021-07-17T05:00:00Z2021-07-30T05:00:00Z, basically taking the rest of the month to dive into them!

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts about these issues! :smiley:


And if you’re looking for more Bat-related stuff to read, check out the other threads by our Bat-Family of Clubs here at DCUI!

First, the Renegade Robins have recently started reading through the classic “Bat-Manga” from Jiro Kuwata from 1966! Also, Damian Wayne is back from the grave, and now with the powers of Superman! Surely nothing could possibly go wrong…right?

Meanwhile, over at the Birds of Prey, throughout the month they are diving deep into their first official on-going series!

And at Harley’s Club, they’re covering the comic-book tie-in to the animated movie Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay!

Also, if you want to read more of our past explorations of Frank Miller’s Batman work, you can click the links down below!


I loved living through all this, especially watching my best buddy pound those Kryptonians.

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Oh man, that reminds me – so, so, SO many variant covers for this series. :rofl:



I liked seeing Batman and Superman become friends again. I hated the way Wonder Woman was drawn, especially her tiara. I thought Lara was very unattractive. Great to see Carrie come into her own.

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It’s been a minute since I read this series but from what I remember I agree – you felt the history they’ve had in this world, but it didn’t feel as antagonistic as before, which I think is a good balance. Like, there’s been a LOT of bad blood, but it’s mixed in with past of respect and working together. Cool stuff.

I really enjoy this look on her. Stuff like the Tiara does scream more “amazon warrior” than “ambassador of peace,” but I think it works for this world. Plus artists like Andy Kubert and Eduardo Risso can hardly do no wrong in my eyes.

Well, I do find that joining a fundamentalist, fascist regime is rather unattractive. :laughing:

Agreed – this is really her story as much as it is anyone else’s in this series.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! :smiley:


I have finished the first 4 issues and, so far, I like this much better than DKII. Maybe Miller got some notes. Most noticeably, the story feels much more coherent and has better flow. The back up issues featuring individual characters are pretty cool and I’m really happy with how they connect to the larger narrative.

I’m still not exactly happy with how Superman has been acting; it feels out of character for him to basically give up and not be a father to his daughter for three years. We know he was raised better than that and, from a more pragmatic standpoint, a Kryptonian Cult might not have been unleashed on the world had he not shirked his responsibilities for so long.

It also felt like Miller was saying something about police violence in the first issue when “Batman” was fighting those officers, but that thread seems to have been dropped. Either that or he felt like he had made his point.

The art style in this volume is also much more appealing to my eye than DKII.


It’s possible, but I think something that can’t be tossed aside is the fact that this series has a co-writer in Brian Azzarello. From interviews that have been given talking about the process, it sounds like Miller and Azzarello worked together in getting the plot, and then Azzarello did the actual script.

I don’t say this to diminish Miller’s input – I’m sure a lot of it is his story, but I think DC was smart to pair Miller with a writer who shares a lot of Frank’s sensibilities and can make something that feels like it fits within the same tone and universe.

I say DC because when this project was first rumored, it was not just going to have Scott Snyder as a co-writer, but he’s talked about how he bowed out when he saw just how well Miller and Azzarello were working, he felt like he would mess things up and be a third wheel.

I can agree that our Superman, the one we’ve typically read in the main universe wouldn’t do that. But I think it kind of works in this universe – in most of these Miller Batman stories, Bruce himself often has a fatal flaw that adds to the drama and character.

For me, the only thing that bothers me about Superman in this is how it feels like it kind of retcons what happened in DKSA. In that story he’s embraced being Superman, being the otherworldly being he actually is and asks his daughter what they should do for their planet. Then in Master Race it’s just…abandoned, and we’re back to square one. Kinda weird.

I think it was both Miller and Azzarello. Miller actually did original art of his original character, Martha Washington, during the height of the George Floyd protests that was auctioned off to the NAACP.

It was also something that Azzarello cared about – he had an issue in Scott Snyder’s Batman run that had Bruce dealing with a case involving police brutality.


And yeah, that stuff pretty much was dropped by the first issue. I think it would have been interesting to see Carrie as “Batman” trying to deal with corrupt police for a whole series, but I think with how the scale was blown up with DKSA, it probably would have been hard to really go back-to-basis.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! :smiley:


Issue 1 is a real shock coming off of DK2. You can actually tell what’s going on in the art! The talking heads aren’t spouting pure nonsense! Yindel is back!

In the three-year jump between these stories, the world has somehow gone from the bizarre future of Strikes Again to something that actually resembles the mid-2010s.

The downside is that the main issue is over almost as soon as it began, but at least we got an Atom backup story. Still, DK3 doesn’t lend itself to issue-by-issue breakdowns.


Huh, for as cartoony and “ugly” as Miller’s artwork got in DKSA, I feel like I always got what was going on.

I mean, part of the fun in the nonsense the talking heads spout, but yeah, it’s a little more realistic like what we saw in the beginning of DKR. It was also cool seeing Yindel back despite her tiny cameo in DKSA implying that she quit the force.

That was something I always found odd, but I guess they assumed that since DKSA wasn’t as popular, it would be better to start with a status quo closer to DKR, and introduce some the other JLA stuff as the series progressed. But hey, the timeline has always been a little weird – three years between DKR and DKSA brought it from the 80s to the 00s.

Yeah, the first issue definitely has that modern-first-issue-itis thing where not a lot happens. In a way it really more cements the mood or mission statement then it does actually start the plot.

I dunno, I’ve been having thoughts while reading each issue. I might have to take on the mantle for this one…


I ended up liking DKIII quite a bit; I was a little surprised considering that I was pretty down on DKII. It might be nigh on blasphemous, but I think this might be my favorite of the DK stories. The Superman’s been holding back scene was probably the coolest part of it. It reminded of his “world made of cardboard” speech from Justice League Unlimited. Superman pretty much redeemed himself by the end.


Hey, everyone’s got one opinion or another that’s a little blasphemous, so don’t let anyone ever shame you for it. :slight_smile:

Right? And yet people STILL say that Frank Miller hates Superman. :roll_eyes: :laughing:

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, John! :smiley:


I read the whole thing (for the first time, since DK2 had convinced me not to waste my time until now), and I still have very few thoughts after finishing it. The whole thing feels like a cash-in, and as unreadable as DK2 was, at least Miller’s heart seemed to be in it. This one comes off more like Azzarello’s fan fiction that has received Miller’s imprimatur.


Book One

We start with the iconic Miller Batman suit being taken and used by someone else – something that I think is a hint of things to come. Then we get something that makes Mutant slang seem tame in comparison – text speek. Does…does anyone text like this? But then I’m one of those weirdos who text in complete sentences, so I’m probably not the best person to ask. :sweat_smile:

The reason for the text speak is two people talking about how one was being chased by the police and nearly died before he’s saved by “The Bat,” who beats down on the cops. While this comic while likely being made around 2014, when there were high profile cases like the death of Eric Garner were in the news, this is one of those stories that seem to have become more current, in a way.

Of course, the media is mixed on this, and the GCPD straight up doesn’t like it, especially one Commissioner Ellen Yindel, who has gone from the optimistic and youthful newbie to an older and cynical.

And we move from Gotham to the Amazons as Wonder Woman saves a village from a raging minotaur, complete with her baby boy strapped to her back, ala Lone Wolf and Cub, except he never breastfed the child in his care. Diana goes back to her Amazonian home which…is it in the Amazon? I’m really curious about what Diana’s story in this universe is more than I probably should be.

Diana asks about her daughter Lara and finds out she’s yet again out to try to break Superman out of his frozen shell in the Fortress of Solitude. Even though in DKSA not only was Superman seemingly ready to embrace being part of the world, but the Fortress was destroyed. Odd retcon, but I think they figured that most people wouldn’t notice (most people don’t reread DKSA) and it makes for a cool image, so…I’ll allow it.

Anyway, as Kara resigns herself to not getting through to her father yet again, she notices that the Bottled City of Kandor is calling for help. This will surely only end well!

We cut back to Ellen staring at the bat-signal that’s somehow still there after all this time, reflecting on why Batman would want to come back, and her thoughts are interrupted by her being told the police have Batman in their sights.

We then get this amazing art sequence of Batman eventually being taken down. I loved how the action and panel layout gets bigger when Batman has the advantage, but gets smaller when the police beats Batman down. Then, just as Batman seems to have beaten them all, Yindel comes in and finds out it’s definitely not the Batman we know, but Carrie Kelley. I really like how the art shows how Carrie tried to pad up the costume to look as much like him, but we can see telltale signs, like the gloves being too big and her softer facial features.

Then we end on the cliffhanger of Carrie saying that “Bruce Wayne is dead.” Even when this was coming out I was like “…Sure, Jan.”

Book One: The Atom

This one is said to be pencils by Frank Miller and inks by Klaus Janson, though I wonder if it’s more like breakdowns by Miller and finishes by Janson. While there’s definitely some Miller poses and movement in this, it feels a lot like Janson’s art, especially in the faces.

In this one, the Atom fights miniature dinosaurs in a smaller habitat…not sure why, maybe it’s just Palmer’s fun way to exercise. He ruminates on how while many of his costumed friends were able to put down the costumes, the Trinity couldn’t because in a way they were more their costumed identities than they were themselves. It kind of reminds me a little of the sort of “League within the League” concept that Brian Meltzer would later do for his Identity Crisis story. This plus Ray talking about his divorce with Jean made me wonder what a Frank Miller Identity Crisis would have looked like. Not sure if that would have been better or worse.

Anyway, Lara approaches Palmer with the Bottled City of Kandor to help them escape from the city and be their normal size again.

Overall I like the idea of these back-up stories. They tell stories outside of what we would have seen and gives insight to things that might have taken too much time and space for the regular issue. As I recall, the first floppy editions of this were really cool, where the back-up stories were actually smaller issues by themselves that were placed inside the prestige issues. Fun idea, I like when comics plays with the dimensions and do weird stuff like that.


DK Last Crusade was pretty enjoyable. The whole Joker becoming king of the asylum seemed like a good turn for the character. We can see Batman showing a little age, but not quite as much as Dark Knight Returns. Do we know exactly how much time passes between Last Crusade and Returns? It’s at least 10 years, but was this Batman’s last outing before Returns?

It would have been nice to see Jason and Alfred interact a little bit more.


Yeah, the whole bit with Joker was interesting. When I first read it when it came out, I wasn’t quite understanding what was going on here with the scenes of Joker in the asylum, but I think I understand it more now.

And yeah, I think it’s safe to say that this was meant to be his last outing, or at least close to it.

Agreed on Jason and Alfred.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! :smiley:


Jason died and I retired 10 years before DKR, but I did have a few other outings before the government demanded we retire. It was during this that I tried to convince Hal to not leave Earth.


Book Two

So we start with Carrie in jail, and after giving Ellen Yindel the silent treatment, she finally explains the “Bruce Wayne is dead” thing.

Basically, after the beatdown he suffered from Lex Luthor at the end of Strikes Again (conveniently leaving out the whole Dick Grayson thing, which…I’m okay with that), the whole “those were mementoes from when I was old” thing was pure brain-battered swagger because Bruce was not okay after that.

We get this really touching sequence where Carrie talks about how she cared for him on his deathbed the whole time, listening to his stories of past glories, and this really sweet moment where Bruce admits he always thought he would die alone, and he’s happy to have Carrie by her side…

…A caring moment that’s almost immediately ruined by Carrie admitting it’s a lie. But that doesn’t matter much anyway because shortly afterward there’s a daring escape from the police including the classic DKR tank Batmobile.

While this is going on, The Atom does what Superman was unable to do for years – bring back the people of Kandor. Except he didn’t quite get what he thought, which was a crazy religious cult that had been brewing in Kandor the entire time, lead by a dangerous zealot name Quar. Quar messes with Ray’s belt to make the Atom continuously shrink and shrink, and one of Quar’s lackies steps on Ray, seemingly killing him.

As Quar starts talking about conquering the world, we see Carrie coming back to the Batcave to meet…Bruce Wayne, who’s older and visibly holding a brace, implying that at least some of her story was true.

Reading this again for the club, Ihad a realization…why did Carrie even go out and do the stuff with the police in the first place? I suppose it could have been a test on Bruce’s part to see her work on her own, but he’s already seen her work on her own and leading a group, so it feels…superflous? Maybe it could have been something where Carrie was tired of being cooped up in the cave and decided to do things on her own, but once the Kandor cult comes in, all that stuff is just dropped.

I also had anouther thought – what if Bruce was dead at the start of this series? What if instead of Carrie slowly building up to being the new Batwoman, she actually starts out as such? You can even still keep the alien invasion plot, but now it feels like a trial by fire for this new Batwoman.

I think what we got in this series isn’t bad by any stretch, but stuff like this makes me wonder what could have been.

Book Two – Wonder Woman

First off, I never would have thought of Eduardo Risso doing Wonder Woman, and while this is definitely a darker take on the character, I’m still pretty into it.

Anyway, onto the story itself, again I was struck with how similar and yet different this take on Paradise Island was, and I’m curious as how much of it is Miller and how much of it was Azzarello, since some of it could feel in place of his run on Diana during the New 52. I’m probably alone here, but I would like to see more of this take on Diana.

As an aside, Miller actually had a Wonder Woman project he was thinking of for a while with frequent collaborator Bill Sienkiewicz called “Wonder Woman: Bondage” that never went anywhere.

ANYWAY, the jist of this one is Diana and Lara are training together and we start to really see (or at least it’s reestablished for people who did not read or didn’t want to read again DKSA) that Lara is starting to grow up and is pushing against her mother’s wishes. It helps further set up Lara’s role in this series as she abandons her Amazonian heritage and embraces her Kryptonian roots instead. It’s interesting because in a way she’s similar and an inverse of how we classically know Wonder Woman – anyone who’s read a fair amount of her comics would know that a big thing was the complicated relationship Diana had with her mother, how there was love but a clear desire to be her own woman.


Why do that when you can… sigh …de-age Bruce Wayne.

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