Dousing the vast majority of their cast in the ghostly green-hued droplets of synthetic Kryptonite, Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello’s narrative for Book Six of “Dark Knight III: The Master Race” must surely have been as gritty and enthrallingly compelling as any of its impressive 133,642-strong readership could have wished for with its bloody depiction of pugilistic violence and barbaric savagery. In fact, this twenty-page periodical’s sadistic shocks simply don’t stop and range from the gratuitously graphic demise of a baseball bat-carrying vigilante by Baal through to the Kryptonian terrorist’s own gruesome facial mutilation courtesy of Robin and her primitive hand-held catapult.
Regrettably though, not all of the Maryland-born writer’s sense-shattering surprises are as fortuitous as Carrie Kelley’s aim with “a ballistic device” and Kryptonite pebble. True, for large portions of the text the weakened Kandorian cultists literally get their clock’s cleaned by the formerly downtrodden people of Gotham City and Commissioner Gordon’s immovable riot police. But before long a handful of foolishly brave Batboys are burned alive by an enraged son of Quar, whilst even the formidable tank-like Batmobile is disconcertingly demolished within the space of a few panels; “My, my. How totally human… Bringing a car, to a god fight.”
Foremost of these unhappy happenstances however, occurs during this publication’s particularly harrowing cliff-hanger ending, when its titular character is apparently mortally wounded by the cowardly “Leader of the Master Race” using his heat vision. An unbelievably emotive moment already, due to Andy Kubert’s superb pencilling of the heavily-armoured crime-fighter lifelessly falling into Clark Kent’s anguished arms, this heart-wrenching instant is made all the more bitter by the American artist subtly sketching in a cruel grin upon the lips of Quar as he cowardly flees the scene of his alien people’s unforeseen defeat.
Equally as engaging to any perusing bibliophile is this book’s mini-comic “Dark Knight Universe Presents: World’s Finest”. Initially focusing upon Batman’s livid green and purple costumed “Chosen One” and her outmatched confrontation with Superman’s all-powerful offspring Lara, this ‘short’, marvellously drawn by Frank Miller, swiftly transforms itself into a pulse-pounding punch-up between Wonder Woman and her errant daughter; “I’ve never experienced an earthquake, but no way it could measure up to this.”