|The Dark Knight III: The Master Race|
|Publication date||November 2015 – May 2017|
|Number of issues||9|
The Dark Knight III: The Master Race, also stylized as DK3 and DK III: The Master Race, is an nine-issue DC Comics limited series co-written by Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello and illustrated by Miller, Andy Kubert, and Klaus Janson.
The series is a sequel to Miller's 1986 Batman miniseries The Dark Knight Returns and the 2001 miniseries The Dark Knight Strikes Again, continuing the story of an aged Bruce Wayne resuming his identity as a crimefighter, aided by his sidekick Carrie Kelley (Robin) and featuring an ensemble of DC Universe characters including Superman and Wonder Woman. In DK III, Ray Palmer restores the inhabitants of Kandor to full-size, but they immediately begin to terrorize the Earth. Batman sets out to assemble his former allies against the invaders.
The series is accompanied by a series of one-shots which fill in events between issues. They are written and drawn by Frank Miller, which continues his experimentation with noir-style writing and divisive art style.
On April 24, 2015, DC Comics announced that Frank Miller was co-writing a sequel to The Dark Knight Strikes Again with Brian Azzarello titled The Dark Knight III: The Master Race and that it would be an eight-issue limited series and will be the third installment in a trilogy that began with The Dark Knight Returns. However, DC Comics has announced a ninth issue, which will be on sale by May 31, 2017.
Three years have passed following the deaths of Lex Luthor and Dick Grayson/The "Joker". Bruce Wayne has not been seen since. In the bat cave, someone unseen shatters a display case and removes the Bat suit from therein.
On the streets, a suspect gets chased by Gotham City police officers but saved when Batman appears to attack their pursuit vehicles.
In a jungle setting, Wonder Woman battles a 4-legged minotaur while her infant super-son, Johnathan, rides in a papoose on her back. Upon returning to the Amazons' new city, she learns that her truant daughter Lara is visiting Superman, father to her and consort to Diana.
Superman is now mysteriously iced over, seated on a throne in his rebuilt Fortress of Solitude. Lara speaks to him absently about the Kryptonian relics on display, including the Bottle City of Kandor. Upon looking closely at it, she discovers a distress signal.
Back in Gotham, Commissoner Ellen Yindel drinks from a flask and ponders the derelict bat signal. Her career is mired by the media frenzy surrounding the Batman sightings and a new Mayoral spokesperson trying to put words in her mouth. She answers a call reporting Batman's imminent arrest.
The ensuing chase results in Batman surrounded and abandoning a motorcycle. After considerable resistance, the cops manage to beat Batman down with night sticks. One officer is caught offguard by certain physical features of his charge but gets hit in the mouth before he can be specific. Disregarding the surprise of a female Batman, Yindel joins the arrest, unmasks her, and demands the whereabouts of Bruce Wayne. Revealed, Wayne's injured accomplice Carrie Kelly claims the original Batman is now dead.
Dark Knight Universe Presents: The Atom #1: Dr. Ray Palmer finishes a sparring session with a reptile specimen in his lab. He regrows to normal human size and reads news cards about the Kelly arrest, worrying about the implications. The sounds of intruders prompt him to arm himself. One, he finds, is a miniaturized man we will come to know as Baal. The other is Lara who has come calling to see if Palmer can restore the inhabitants of Kandor to full size.
The beaten and bloodied Carrie Kelley is manhandled into a police vehicle. When prompted, she madly repeats her claim that "Bruce Wayne is dead" three times.
She's incarcerated as a Jane Doe and Commissioner Yindel spends a month plying for details. Her interrogation meets with mixed success. Carrie narrates a seemingly honest flashback about the aging Bruce Wayne finally succumbing to battle injuries after years of holding on. But, when asked about his final resting place, Carrie only makes a sick joke and chides her about her anti-Batman beliefs.
Back at his laboratory, Ray Palmer narrates about the complexities of science and fills in Lara about horrible consequences of his earlier attempts to resize Kandor. Baal joins the conversation through a wall-mounted speaker, openly admiring The Atom's heroism. Lara super hears a summons from her mother and flies away in the blink of an eye. Baal and Ray continue talking, leaving off with Baal frowning when Ray makes a reference to God.
Following some media commentary, Yindel approvingly takes reports on the lack of protestors or resistance to Carrie's legal situation, implying that the oblique Mayor is manipulating opinions. Yindel remotely oversees Carrie's prison transport, which enjoys clear traffic with only a drone in sight. At a strategic point en route, Carrie whistles to trigger a non-lethal missile strike on the transport.
The transport rolls and lands on its side. The Batmobile (still refit to tank form per Dark Knight Returns) advances on it. A waiting force of squad cars and drones scrambles to surround the Batmobile, some colliding with it at their own peril.
As it continues to shoot police vehicles, Yindel orders a drawbridge raised to cut off its escape route. SWAT members fire a bazooka which only succeeds in making it do an aerial flip.
At last, police corner the Batmobile against the drawbridge. They search the interior but find no one. Its afterburner fires, propelling it over the drawbridge. We find Carrie has wedged herself in the undercarriage and is enjoying the thrill. It lands on the other side of the river and carries her to an escape.
In a desert, Ray attempts his complex Kandor restoration project involving cables connected to the bottle and a chest-mounted beam projector. With due concern for the thousand lives in his hands, he pushes a button and suddenly considers the similarity of the technology at work to that of an A-bomb.
After a blinding flash, the area is populated by full-sized Kandor citizens. However, Ray is shocked to see that some of their number are freshly dead and many more wear the raiments of a cult we will soon learn to be twisted, fanatical, and polygamous.
The regrown Baal introduces their leader as Quar. Quar redirects the beam on Palmer. Palmer shrinks to a tiny height and Baal steps on him. Quar orates about their new home and power. He picks up the bottle city, whose inhabitants no longer include any of his followers, and obliterates it with heat vision.
In the Bat Cave, Carrie disembarks from the Batmobile and approaches the Batcomputer terminal. Bruce Wayne stands there with a crutch and turns to look at her with an unreadable expression.
Dark Knight Universe Presents: Wonder Woman #1: Super mother/daughter friction as Lara returns to the new Amazon city, late for a sparring session with Wonder Woman. Lara laments her upbringing in secret near-isolation while Diana focuses on the upside of having a defiant daughter; she'll fight for her own in life. Lara complains that combat training is needless given her potentially unrivaled super powers. Diana attacks harder in an effort to enliven Lara's performance. All the while, super baby Johnathan remains in the papoose, possibly not even awake. Diana speaks of her fighting Amazonian heritage and thrusts a sword at Lara. Lara allows the sword to break on her chest, counters that she prefers her father's heritage, and flies away.
Now released from Kandor, the Kryptonians led by Quar make an announcement to the world, asking that they be acknowledged as gods or face destruction with an example being made out of Moscow when Quar has one of his disciples ingest a pill that turns him into an atomic bomb, destroying the city while it is broadcast by a captured news reporter. Faced with this ultimatum, but recognising that he is too weak to face such a threat himself, Bruce takes Carrie to the Fortress of Solitude to inspire Superman back into action, who since "The Dark Knight Strikes Again" has left himself to freeze in the Fortress. When they reach the Fortress, Bruce strikes Clark with a sledgehammer to wake him up saying: "Wake up Kansas, wallow time is over! I can't do this anymore. It'll kill me. This world needs you. Saying that kills me too.". Carrie says Superman won't do anything while his people ravage the Earth, and Clark awakes to Carrie saying that kryptonians are involved. While Superman agrees to help, Quar and his followers breach in the Pentagon demanding an answer to their ultimatum. The monitors around the room go black and Bruce (in his Batsuit) declares:"Go to Hell". At that moment Superman arrives but is shocked to see his daughter Lara now aiding Quar and preparing to fire her heat vision at him while declaring him a traitor to his own race.
Dark Knight Universe Presents: Green Lantern #1: Learning of the Kryptonians' arrival on Earth, Hal travels back to try to make them stand down, but when they realise that he is nothing more than a man with a ring, they blast his hand off with heat-vision and leave him to fall to the ground.
Superman stands his ground but refuses to fight back as Lara pummels him all across the world to the Fortress of Solitude. Quar cocoons Superman in black matter and orders his legion of Kryptonians to sink the Fortress into the ocean, and Superman with it. He then gives out an order to Gotham City demanding that they hand over the Batman or what happened in Moscow will happen to Gotham. As the city falls into chaos, Bruce orders Carrie on a special mission, giving her some sort of pill and her new Batgirl costume. Wonder Woman, meanwhile, stands alone on Themyscira in the rain, ignoring the call to action from Bruce. As Ellen Yindel waxes on the worth of the people of Gotham and that of the GCPD, Bruce in his Batman garb appears behind her and tells her to stop trying to drown out the needs of her people.
Meanwhile, Ray Palmer, revealed to still be alive, is sinking into a subatomic universe when he suddenly grabs hold of an atom, realizing that he might be able to fix his mistake.
Dark Knight Universe Presents: Batgirl #1: In the middle of the riots in Gotham City, Carrie Kelly fights her way to the Gotham piers wearing her new Batgirl costume. She casts a pill given to her by Bruce into the bay as she is about to be overtaken. At that moment Aquaman reaches out from the water and grabs the item she had thrown in, riding on the back of a whale. Carrie jumps on top next to Aquaman and he tells her to hold her breath as he holds her close.
With Gotham City under attack, Batman's followers bring Flash to the Batcave, but Batman is worried he can't fix Flash's broken legs. Meanwhile, Carrie Kelly, Aquaman and his army have found Superman in the Arctic. Aquaman gives Carrie Kelly a golden needle saying it's the only thing that will free Superman, which she does. Back in Gotham, Batman prepares to fight Quar and his legions. Superman brings Carrie back to the Batcave, where Flash is now attached to a computer to interfere with the weather. Using power from the Bat-Signal, Flash makes it rain synthetic kryptonite, weakening the Kryptonians and causing them fall from the sky by the hundreds. Batman, Superman – clad in a kryptonite-resistant suit of armor – and the people of Gotham are now bringing the fight to them.
Dark Knight Universe Presents: Lara #1: Lara begins to connect with Baal, who tries to impress her by having his version of "fun" and impressing upon her that it is not wrong to have a lot of it. Baal picks up a car and uses it to make sexual advances towards her. Near the end, they engage in a kiss and Lara begins her journey of love.
With the synthetic kryptonite in effect, Batman, Superman and the citizens of Gotham were able to hold off the kryptonians. Lara and Baal, who went away before the rain occurred, were surprised to see the situation with the fallen kryptonians. Carrie Kelly confronted Baal using the Batmobile, which got destroyed but was able to escape. With Baal dominating the fight, Carrie shot him with a kryptonite in the face which affected his appearance and was forced to retreat while the weakened Quar was held off by the Sons of Batman. Superman suggested to destroy the remaining kryptonians once and for all but Batman persuade him to let them go. Before the kryptonians leave Gotham, Quar uses his heat vision and hit Batman's heart, severely wounding him in the process. Batman told Superman to bring him somewhere but the hospital before succumbing to death. Superman, realizing Bruce Wayne's words flies fast to an unknown location carrying Bruce's body.
Dark Knight Universe Presents: World's Finest #1: Carrie Kelly and two members of the Sons of Batman watch over Gotham City. Lara Kent appears and confronts them. Lara asks Carrie if she was the Batman's "Chosen One". Carrie responded with a punch but fractures her right hand. Wonderwoman arrives to confront Lara and the two fought until she held off Lara. Realizing that her daughter got hurt, she offers her hand and tried to persuade Lara that she is still her daughter after all but an emotional Lara declines and left the scene.
The story continues with the GCPD led by Commissioner Ellen Yindel and Carrie Kelly cleaning up the city and learned about Batman's death. Yindel asks Carrie if what they fought for was worth it since a lot of people died during the battle. Carrie responded by telling Yindel to fix the Bat-signal so they can keep in touch. Meanwhile, the kryptonians were able to regain their strength and Quar persuaded Lara Kent to capture her brother, Jonathan Kent as their hostage. At Themyscira, Wonder Woman was able to sense the planned siege when she confronted Lara while attempting to kidnap Jonathan Kent and the Kryptonians realized that the Amazonians were just waiting on them and were ready to attack. Meanwhile, the unknown location Superman went into is revealed to be the Lazarus Pit. Superman lunges Batman's body into the pit and Bruce Wayne comes out alive, physically younger, and in his prime once again. Bruce attacks Superman due to the effects of the pit but Superman calms him down at the end.
Dark Knight Universe Presents: Strange Adventures #1: Hal Jordan continues to search for his lost hand with the Green Lantern Power Ring attached to it. Meanwhile, Hawkman and Hawkgirl watches over and were having second thoughts if they will help him. Hal reaches an unknown village in the middle of the dessert and found the Power Ring in possession of one of the men in the village with the help of a beggar whom he gave his drinking water at the village's entrance. The man tried to sell the ring with Hal bribing him with a bar of gold, but the man asked for more. Hal, out of options and aware that he is powerless, took a risk to get the ring back and was cornered with goons. With Hawkman and Hawkgirl's help, Hal retrieves the ring and his powers.
The first issue of the miniseries was the bestselling comic in the month of November, selling 440,234 copies.
DK III was initially advertised as the conclusion to the Dark Knight series that began with The Dark Knight Returns, but in November 2015 Frank Miller announced he planned to produce a fourth miniseries to conclude the story. "I thoroughly applaud what [Brian Azzarello] [is] doing," he said "But now that he's doing [DK III], it's now a four-part series. I'm doing the fourth."