The opening panels of Dark Knight III: The Master Race depict a break-in at the Batcave. A display case containing the imposing costume of Batman, the DC vigilante, is smashed open and his emblematic cape and cowl are stolen, leaving only a bare mannequin.
This sequence can be seen as metaphor for the transformative effect that the Dark Knight comics, created by the artist and writer Frank Miller, have had on the 76-year-old Batman superhero.
When his original series, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, was published in 1986, its depiction of an older Bruce Wayne, who had returned to fight crime after a period of retirement, reinvigorated the character. It was a shadowy hero for a new generation and it helped strip away the colorful affectations of the 1960s Batman TV show.
Beginning with Mr. Miller’s comics and culminating with Christopher Nolan’s multibillion-dollar Dark Knight movie franchise, this somber Batman became the character’s definitive incarnation.
Frank Miller, the artist and writer who created the Dark Knight comic book series
Panels From Dark Knight II: The Master Race
From left, Andy Kubert, Klaus Janson, Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello
Dark Knight III, a comic book series whose first issue was released on Wednesday, is an opportunity for Mr. Miller to revisit the dystopian world of his venerable crime-fighter, and to reflect on the influential series he initiated on the cusp of his 30th birthday.
“I decided to make Batman impossibly old — I made him in his 50s,” a wry Mr. Miller, now 58, said in a recent interview. “It was a way to recharge the character, creatively, but also make myself feel a bit younger in the process.”
Among readers, Dark Knight III is being met with a mixture of anticipation and wariness. Some fans have soured on the strident, violent work of Mr. Miller, whose graphic novels have spawned hit movies like 300 and Sin City, and what they perceive as his reactionary politics.
Moreover, audiences wonder whether this new “Dark Knight” can have any effect in a cultural landscape saturated with moody, brooding takes on Batman. Read the full New York Times article HERE.