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Comic Book / Dark Knight III: The Master Race

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Dark Knight III: The Master Race is an 9-issue Batman mini-series written by Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello, with illustrations by Andy Kubert with Klaus Janson and Brad Anderson, which ran from November 2015 to June 2017. It's the sequel to the 2001-2002 mini-series The Dark Knight Strikes Again, which was itself a sequel to the original 1986 Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.

Three years have passed since the fall of Lex Luthor and Brainiac as well as Dick Grayson. It has also been three years since anyone has seen Batman, so one can imagine everyone's surprise when pictures of The Bat beating the crap out of Gotham Police officers quickly go viral. However, it doesn't take long for trouble to brew when a group of evil emerges, and their power is so vast that not even the Goddamn Batman can take them down by himself.

This miniseries contains examples of:

  • And the Adventure Continues: How the series ends, with a rejuvenated Bruce and inspired Carrie.
  • The Atoner: The Atom returns when the Kandorians attempt a Taking You with Me and shrinks them to a tiny size, making their Nuke 'em suicide attack into a tiny little microscopic "pop".
  • Babies Ever After: It turns out that Superman and Wonder Woman have two children, the infant Jonathan, and the teenaged Lara.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Superman, armed with his own Powered Armor, arrives to aid Batman at the end of issue #5.
  • Book Ends: Carrie starts in a Batman costume. The series ends with her becoming Batwoman.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: Batman hauls out his old tank-like Batmobile and his Powered Armor from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns to battle the Kryptonians.
  • Call to Agriculture: Superman retires to be a farmer in Kansas. He knows mankind will do just fine without him.
  • Combat Pragmatist: ALL OF EARTH'S HEROES! In fact this whole book seems to be about how powers mean jack when you're facing skill and trained opponents using tactics specifically made to kill you and your kind.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Batman spent a lot of money to manufacture synthetic Kryptonite, load it up into drones and hide them in clouds to create a Kryptonite rainstorm in the off-chance that there was a Kryptonian invasion.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Every issue of the main story ends with a one-shot that revolves around someone in the Dark Knight Universe and how they factor into the main plot.
  • First-Episode Twist: :The Batman seen in the first issue isn't Bruce Wayne. It's Carrie Kelly.
  • Forced Friendly Fire: When the last of the citizens of Kandor fly to the desert in a final gambit to destroy the earth, Batman tunes the hyper-sonics in the Batmobile to cause a giant swarm of bats to envelop them. This causes the Kandorians to panic and fire their heat vision blindly which ends up hitting each other.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: Batman learns it too late when he's flabbergasted watching how Superman takes care of five Kandorian opponents younger, faster and stronger than him when he decides to stop holding back. Bruce describes how terrified he is with the revelation that Superman was always tremendously holding back, even when fighting Batman years ago, and could have taken him down with ease anytime he wanted.
    Batman: (to himself) Dear God... that sonofabitch... he's been holding back. All these years. He moves... he's already striking when he's avoiding a punch. There's a certain geometry to physical violence. I like to think I've mastered it... turns out I'm still a student...
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Lara Kent/Supergirl, daughter of Superman and Wonder Woman, gets convinced by Quar and Baal to join them in the crusade to conquer Earth. She ends up coming to her senses again and opts to redeem herself by attempting a Heroic Sacrifice to kill Quar by flying him into the sun, and thankfully lives to reunite with her father.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Superman reveals he'd been holding back the entire time in the trilogy.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The initial reactions of Batman's apparent return in Issue #1 being of disgust and apathy can be seen as a nod to the Real Life reactions of the miniseries' announcement.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Quar and his followers take out a few of the heroes early on and then just assume that their powers mean that they can just plow through anyone that stands in their way. They're wrong.
  • Meaningful Name: The miniseries' subtitle "The Master Race" refers to how Quar and the people of Kandor are Kryptonians, Human Aliens who are vastly more powerful than the humans of Earth.
  • Mook Horror Show: Surprisingly, this happens to the nigh-godlike Kryptonian invaders as the heroes use tactics made specifically to kill Kryptonians to pick them off like flies.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Dr. Ray Palmer, the Atom, has this reaction when he finds out that the people of Kandor are really composed of Quar and his followers, who have murdered the rest of the good Krpytonians as they didn't buy into his xenophobic goals.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Lara against her father, Superman, after he refuses to join the Kandorians in their quest of purging. To be fair, Superman doesn't fight back.
  • Not Quite Dead:
    • The end of the first issue explicitly said Bruce Wayne was dead. The end of Issue #2 begs to differ.
    • At the end of Issue #2, we are led to believe that The Atom died after being crushed by Baal. Issue #4 reveals that the Atom is still very much alive, if still shrinking.
    • The end of issue #6 seems to lead us to believe that Bruce really is dead. At the end of Issue #7, he's saved via Lazarus Pit.
  • Oh, Crap!: The reaction from the Kryptonians when they try to eradicate the Amazonians with a casual heat vision blast, while they have their shields up. Their magical shields.
  • Old Superhero: Even when he is no shape to fight anyone, Bruce Wayne is still not afraid to stand against Quar and his forces.
  • Retcon: Many, to the point of being Fix Fic. For example, in TDKSA, Superman bitches and moans in internal dialogue how Bruce broke him down like a jigsaw puzzle, while remaining emotionally broken. It's impossible that he would have been faking it unless he had a multiple personality disorder and his other personality had been holding back for some reason.
  • Sequel Hook: Though still one issue left, Issue #7's ending, with Bruce being rejuvenated through the Lazarus Pit is revealed to be essentially this for further Dark Knight books.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The series as a whole started with cynicism, but at the end of #9, it's fully on the idealistic side.
  • Suicide Attack: Quar's people have developed some kind of pill that causes the body itself to become volatile and explode. These being kryptonians, when they explode it's like a nuke going off.
  • Super Supremacist: Quar, who believes Kryptonians are the true Master Race.
  • Time Skip: Takes place 3 years after the events of The Dark Knight Strikes Again.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Quar and his followers are Kryptonians that have been supercharged by a yellow sun which makes them each, individually as strong as a god. However, Earth's defenders quickly show them that power is nothing if it isn't used properly.
  • Vulnerable Convoy: In #2, Carrie arranges for the convoy transporting her to hit by a remote-controlled tank, allowing her to escape.
  • Wham Line:
    • Issue #1:
      Carrie Kelly: Bruce Wayne is dead.
    • Issue #3:
      Lara-El: You are a traitor to your race... father.
    • Issue #5:
  • Wham Shot: Surprisingly several.
    • Issue #1: The last few pages reveal that the "Batman" that has been seen as of late is actually Carrie Kelly who says that Bruce Wayne is dead.
    • Issue #2: A twofer. The two-page spread that shows the Atom witnessing that he regrew Quar, his followers, and several corpses. And Bruce Wayne is very much alive.
    • Issue #3: The last page reveals that Superman and Wonder Woman's daughter, Lara, has joined the Kandorians, much to her father's horror.
    • Issue #4: Quar has Superman succumb to black matter and the Fortress of Solitude is vaporized by the Kandorians.
    • Issue #5: Superman is not only alive and well, but donning a suit of armor for himself and aiding Batman in the fight against the Kandorians.
    • Issue #9: Carrie is sporting the Batman outfit. Bruce notes the change, and Carrie replies that bright colors really aren't her thing.
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: Superman explains why being just a normal person is awesome to Lara, who can't fathom humanity.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Pretty much all of the heroes (with the exception of Superman and Wonder Woman but then again, they are up against at least one hundred opponents that can match them in strength so power alone is useless). However, earths heroes have been facing and defeating threats even greater than Quar and his followers for years using their brains and resources so ultimately, brains wins against brawn.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: After the Atom regrows the people of Kandor into regular size and immediately regrets it, Quar turns the Atom's shrinking device towards the Atom himself, causing him to irreversibly shrink and Baal squishes him to death. Subverted when issue #4 reveals that the Atom isn't dead, but is still shrinking like crazy.