Brian Azzarello, who's co-writing Dark Knight III: The Master Race, admits the comic's title is "provocative," but he promises it will "make sense" to readers once they get their hands on November's highly anticipated first issue.
And the writer claims that "two daughters" will play a central role in the book — perhaps women related to Batman and Superman.
On November 25, readers will get their first look at Dark Knight III: The Master Race, the third and final chapter in The Dark Knight Returns saga from Frank Miller. The new chapter, written by Azzarello and Miller with art by Andy Kubert and Klaus Janson, will be an eight-part miniseries, with each issue featuring one 32-page main story and one 16-page minicomic focusing on a different character from the DK world.
The comic follows up on the now-legendary 1986 comic The Dark Knight Returns, as well as its 2001-2002 sequel, The Dark Knight Strikes Again. And although Kubert told Newsarama that he's drawing DK3 as if it's three years after the last book — a timeline Azzarello confirmed — the writer said the world of this new story actually reflects current day.
Azzarello also revealed to Newsarama that his alternate title for the comic would be "World's Finest," and he and Miller have said before that the book would feature a Superman vs. Batman battle, but one that's different from the expected fight in the upcoming live action film Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. How is it different? And is it related to Azzarello's hints about two daughters being central to the story?
And why does Azzarello claims he "gave something away" when he said Wonder Woman, who has two children in DK3, is even tougher than Batman in some ways?
With the comic set to begin in less than a month, Newsarama talked to Azzarello and Kubert to find out more.
Newsarama: Brian, how many years after DK2 does this take place?
Brian Azzarello: It's three years after the last one. The second one was three years after the first one, and this is three years after the last one.
Nrama: What's the world like in this one?
Azzarello: It's like our world.
It's like the other two. Dark Knight is very attuned to the political and the social scene of the time when it's being produced. So we're very plugged in in that way.
It's not 1992, which would be six years after the original thing. It's now. But we're not too beholden to things. And we didn't want to get retro with it either.
We say three years. It's actually 30 years since the first one. We're not looking to comment on, like, Reagan era America. That's been done — very well, in the first one.
Nrama: So the story in this one takes place three years after the last one, but the themes you're exploring and the issues the characters are facing are very much a reflection of society today. Is that what you're saying?
Azzarello: Yeah. Yeah. Just like the other ones were.
Nrama: But Andy, looking at the art, this feels very much like the same world and same general timeframe. Was that the goal for the visuals?
Andy Kubert: Yeah, I'm just looking at things like they'd be three years later. I'm drawing Gotham by following the way Frank would draw it. There are other aspects in it that I'm just kind of going along with what's been done before.
So as far as the time frame goes, [visually], there's really not that much difference between the series.
Nrama: Brian, why the title, The Master Race? I saw a video of Frank saying something about it relating to Superman, but can you clarify what that means? Why is it called The Master Race?
Azzarello: You're going to have to read it to find out.
It's a provocative title. We know that. And it will make sense. It's provocative, but we didn't use it just to provoke. We thought about it. At least I did.
I thought about it when Frank said, "We're going to call it The Master Race."
I'm like, "Are you sure you want to do that? I would call it 'World's Finest.'"
As you read it, you'll be able to tell what it is and how it works and stuff.
Nrama: It's interesting you say "World's Finest" because I think you were quoted — again, I'm looking at a transcript from a convention you and Frank did in Paris — and you said that it's a story of "two fathers and two daughters." We already know Superman has a daughter, from the last two DK books. With your mention of "World's Finest," it sounds like this focuses on Superman and Batman, but is it also focusing on their legacies?
Azzarello: Yeah. Yeah. Or their daughters. [Laughs.]
This Paris transcript — where did this come from?
Nrama: Comic Con Paris. You said the story is about "two fathers and two daughters." You didn't say who those daughters were, but with your mention of "World's Finest," it's implied that we'll see a couple women related to the Batman and Superman mythos – their female descendants, whether blood or otherwise.
Azzarello: Yeah. Just read between the lines. There's plenty there. Seriously.
Nrama: Besides these two daughters, Wonder Woman's part of this book, and she played an important role in the last two DKR series. You have such a history with her, Brian — recent history. How would you describe the Wonder Woman of this world, and how does that contrast with the one you wrote in Wonder Woman?
Azzarello: Well, my Wonder Woman didn't have any kids. This one has two.
Nrama: That's a big contrast.
Azzarello: Yeah, it is. And it's interesting playing — like you said, I've worked on her — but now to actually work on here where she's a mother, it's a completely different wrinkle to her. It's been fun.
She's more of a hard-ass, I think, in the Dark Knight universe than when I was doing her. Frank really pushes the warrior aspect of her.
Nrama: Yeah, when you said she's a hard-ass, my question was going to be, was she a hard-ass before motherhood? Are you just saying in this world she's a hard-ass, even pre-motherhood?
Azzarello: Yeah, yeah. I mean, she was in DK2, you know.
Next to Batman, she's the toughest character around. And in some ways, she's even tougher than him.
I might have just given something away. So there's your answer to your Wonder Woman question.
Nrama: Andy and Brian, why did you want to work in this world of The Dark Knight, and what are you hoping this one will do to honor that?
Kubert: I've been so influenced by this book, even when it first came out. It's one of the books that helped me want to direct myself into eventually drawing Batman and got me into it, besides, you know, when I was a kid reading all the Neal Adams and Denny O'Neil stuff.
You know, I bought it when it first came out. And now to be part of it, to me, I'm just honored and, I don't know man — it's kind of surreal. It's a surreal feeling to be…
I'm looking at one of the posters right now, and I see Frank's name on it, and I see Brian and mine and I see Klaus, and I can't believe mine's there along with all the other guys. It's surreal to me.
Azzarello: Yeah. I was approached by Frank maybe 15 or 16 years ago, when he became aware of 100 Bullets, and he wanted to meet Eduardo [Risso] and I. I think Bob Schreck arranged it?
And we became friends after that. And when he asked me to do this, like, "I want to do a third chapter of this and I'd like you to help me," there was no question. I was like, "Yeah, of course I'll help you. I'll put aside what I was going to do and let's realize your vision here, man."
I'd run through a wall for him. I just hope he doesn't ask me to run through a wall.