The first issue of Dark Knight III: The Master Race hit the stands this week from DC Comics, writer Brian Azzarello and Frank Miller, and artists Andy Kubert and Klaus Janson.
The response has been generally positive and, if anecdotal evidence from my local stores is any indicator, sales have been huge. The miniseries, originally conceived as the end of the Dark Knight "trilogy" created by Frank Miller thirty years ago with The Dark Knight Returns, will now continue on into at least one more -- and quite possibly an indefinite series of -- miniseries from Miller himself.
The opening salvo of any big, widescreen story like this is bound to raise some questions, but since it's a decade or more between trips to Miller's Batman universe, there's even more stuff to scratch your head over...!
IS BRUCE WAYNE REALLY DEAD?
This weekend's box office sees Creed wrestling with the question of just what mortality means to somebody who is just as much symbol as man.
But Rocky Balboa lives in a more grounded world than do members of the DC Universe, and Batman in particular has cheated death over and over (and over and over) again.
In fact, even just in the world of The Dark Knight books, Bruce faked his death in a big and obvious way already once on-panel.
So...can we trust his closest ally and surrogate daughter when she says he's dead?
IS THAT SUPERMAN'S BABY?
This one might seem kind of obvious...except that it kind of isn't.
Yes, Superman and Wonder Woman already have one child, and yes, this kid is named "Jonathan," after Clark Kent's adoptive father and the name of Lois Lane and Clark Kent's actual son in-universe.
Still, it's hard to know what to make of Clark's total absence, and it IS Wonder Woman. It's not impossible to believe she could have simply made herself a child out of clay.
WHY IS SUPERMAN IN HIDING?
Okay, so Jonathan is born, and Lara clearly could use a little guidance in her life from somebody who's got better parental instincts than Diana.
What the hell is Clark doing hiding away in the Fortress, literally hybernating under the ice?
We're guessing it ties into the general downfall of society. Elseworlds stories often see Superman running from bigger cultural issues and retreating from the world -- it's a way to explain away systemic problems that seem like Superman should have handled them by now -- but in a story that will revolve so heavily around Kryptonian mythology and culture, it's unlikely Miller and Azzarello have done this lightly or just to advance the plot. There's likely something bigger at play that we aren't yet seeing.
WHAT WILL YINDEL'S ROLE BE?
The Gotham police commissioner does as she's asked in this first issue -- in between bouts of lamenting years of doing what's asked rather than what's right.
In fact, her ruminations in The Master Race #1 feel a little bit like the initial conversation that spurred Bruce Wayne and James Gordon into action in The Dark Knight Returns.
That might be reading into things a little bit -- but this is also the first time that this storied franchise has had another writer besides Miller on board...and when that happens, the new writer tends to go back to the source material and look for themes, scenes and character beats they can mirror (again, see Creed for how this is done).
HOW WILL THEY DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN THIS AND WORLD OF NEW KRYPTON?
This one is easily answered by "because it's a different universe," but the idea of the bottle city's denizens getting all growed up and causing a ruckus throughout the DC Universe was JUST DONE not that long ago.
Do we really need a remake set in the Dark Knight Universe?
There are elements of that story showing up on Supergirl, and so I guess it could be a clever tie-in if the pair end up treading some similar territory around the same time, but there's no way that was planned. So...what is it that Miller and Azzarello think they have to say on this question? That's probably both the most urgent, and potentially interesting, question posed.