Bristling out of the gate and lashing out politically at the issues of our current real world dystopia, Frank Miller has launched another bold view from the grim world of a Batman, * ENTIRE ARTICLE SPOILER ALERT * who comes out of retirement to make a police brutality statement from the opening pages of Dark Knight III: The Master Race.
Rarely have readers been so taken by surprise at the very start of a book.
A young African-American male tries to tell his friend that the "Bat" is back.
And not only that, but Batman is “on their side”.
This statement is met with disbelief.
But the stark visual story that follows does not lie.
The Gotham beat cops chase the skinny young man down, corner him, and though he is not a threat, the starkly white officers open fire on him . . . and Batman swoops down to deflect the bullets.
Batman – from the gritty, but all too realistic DKR through DK3 world – has turned another corner.
The Bat is furious and beats the hell out of the corrupt policemen, making him public enemy number one once again.
One of the most prolific writers of the 20th and 21st centuries, Frank Miller has teamed up with Brian Azzarello to write this incredibly powerful graphic novel follow-up to The Dark Knight Returns and The Dark Knight Strikes Again, and this shocking war on Gotham’s police is begun in the first issue!
Miller has brought back the brilliant coloring of Klaus Janson, and brought on a newcomer but one of the premiere Batman artists in his own right, Andy Kubert, to pencil and ink the comic book.
Miller is so happy with the work and Azzarello's writing that he is already at work on DKIV, the finale of the series.
In an interview with Mr. Miller, Newsarama asked: "Frank, when I talked to Brian [Azzarello] about DKIII, he said that although it takes place three years after the second The Dark Knight Strikes Again, it very much belongs in our current day...was that something that was important to you?"
Miller: "Yeah, at the time, I was living in Manhattan and it was overridden...you know, Dirty Harry was my favorite character in the movies...I was extremely angry. And this all kind of burst forth on the page for me. And DC Comics broke all the rules and let me take one of their known heroes in directions that gave some of them an ulcer. It was really a blessed time." [Read the entire newsarama.com interview here]
A flurry of artists are making variant covers for each issue of the historic piece as well, including Jim Lee, Jill Thompson, and Dave Gibbons, to name a few.
From the early Batman: Year One books, Frank Miller’s Batman has long been more edgy, a bit of a smarter, methodical and, at times, philosophical detective as much as he is a vigilante, but for all of that Bruce Wayne’s Bat persona is also not afraid to use action, or an onslaught of violence, to attempt to right the wrongs presented him by the world’s most unscrupulous city, Gotham.
In the first of the graphic novel trilogy, The Dark Knight Returns, Batman breaks his “one rule” by committing an act of murder, as he snaps and kills the Joker.
What brought the aged Dark Knight to that point of disparagement?
Another Joker murdering spree, dead kids, and thinking of the myriad lives lost due to the Joker being left alive to continually break out of incarceration thanks to a broken system.
The Gotham force and the US government do not look favorably on the Bat. Strife ensues.
The statement: sometimes war is brought upon you and there is no choice but to fight and end it yourself or let the system continue the cycle of innocents subjugated to murderous madness.
This directly links to the new book, Dark Knight III: The Master Race, which is truly reminiscent of the previous theme, and speaks largely of the world’s devolution thirty years after the first book was published in 1986.
Now the Gotham Police force has attempted to end violence by systematically attacking, instead of subduing, and shooting first and asking questions later, rather than assessing threats from the violent and the non-violent.
This is a gutsy statement to call out the police brutality issue at a time in America when many feel their respect for the police needs to extend to blind obedience to a police state, despite police being charged with serving and protecting all of the citizens of their state, not just the wealthy or the white.
This practice of systemic police brutality has been met with stark criticism represented in the news clips Miller brings us in the book: see the eerie resemblance to political correspondent/comedian Jon Stewart, and also the blind support from the racially biased, Caucasian, western media and public, who are also aptly represented in the “fictitious” work.
The society of Gotham is split, as many support the courageous cops, who certainly lay their lives on the line, despite their prevailing views of racism and their “shoot first” mentality.
Frank Miller’s police brutality depiction is frighteningly similar to the real world, as it is today and may, without unified calls for reform, continue into the future.
Batman sat out the fight for years, but seeing no end, he rose up to save the lives of those wrongly targeted for execution, for murder, by a brutal police force.
As Batman is finally caught, closing out the first chapter, the Bat is revealed to be none other than Carrie Kelley, Batman's former Robin.
She tells the commissioner that Bruce Wayne is dead.
Carrie is in the hands of the state now, the Master Race, and we can only fear for her going into the next book.
"Police Brutality Statement: Dark Knight III: The Master Race" was written by R.J. Huneke
Comics News & Reviews: a POWkabamBlog
Artists looking at art. POWkabam!