Brian Azzarello and Frank Miller are promising more than one shocking cliffhanger in this week's Dark Knight III: The Master Race #2. They go on to clarify their choice to focus on the female characters in the Dark Knight universe, as well as the plans for a fourth book by Miller, announced here on Newsarama last month.
This is in addition to the recently announced one-shot prequel that Azzarello and Miller are releasing in February 2016 titled Dark Knight Returns: The Last Crusade.
Newsarama talked to Azzarello and Miller to find out more about the current female-centric storyline, what's coming next in the mini-series, and the plans for the fourth Dark Knight volume (and whether Miller will draw it himself).
Newsarama: Brian and Frank, by the end of the first issue, readers have learned that Bruce Wayne is gone and Carrie is taking his place. We're also following a couple other female characters, namely Wonder Woman and her daughter with Superman, Lara. Was this concentration on female characters something you did on purpose?
Brian Azzarello: I don't know if we actually intentionally tried to make it female-centric. It just kind of worked out that way. In the Dark Knight universe, there's these really interesting female characters. They should be explored.
Frank Miller: There are two daughters here. How can you not be focused on these two characters? They're the story.
Nrama: So it was less about a conscious effort to have women in the story, and it was more about the way Frank set up the next generation of Superman and Batman heroes?
Azzarello: The story was already there and set up.
Miller: And you know, these stories don't exist in a vacuum. Sooner or later, these superhero stories have to start to reflect the real world.
Azzarello: I know… I think I get what you're driving at. It's a big talking point in comics right now, this idea of having more stories about women. But was that something we were addressing when we did this? No. We were just trying to tell a good story.
It just so happens that these characters happen to be women. And that's just the way the characters are.
But that's a good thing. This is the way comics should be approached anyway. We didn't have an agenda. Is that what you're asking?
Nrama: Less that, and more that it's surprising that something written in the 1980s, almost 30 years ago, has set up this story that is so female-focused.
Azzarello: Yeah! You were ahead of your time, Frank.
Miller: I like to think Brian and I are helping comics play catch-up.
Nrama: Before anyone read the first issue, you said this story reflects the world now. How do you think it reflects the world today?
Miller: When I did the first two books of Dark Knight, they reflected the time in which they were done. The first one was a reflection of the '80s, and the second of the early '90s, and the politics of the time, particularly New York City of the time, which I think isn't necessarily the case now. That comes from the spirit of where comic books came from.
And I think Brian and I — both of us — are trying to bring comic books a bit closer to the real world.
Nrama: But having read The Dark Knight III: The Master Race #2, without giving any spoilers for what happens, it feels like it reflects the fears and concerns of the today.
Azzarello: Do you mean were we reflecting real current events, like what happened in Paris?
Nrama: Well, yes, that type of thing, but I was thinking more of the general fears and concerns of society, which very much include terrorism. I feel like the story goes on to reflect those fears in this week's issue.
Miller: That's what the Dark Knight has always done. In the first two Dark Knights, you can certainly tell where I was and when it was.
Azzarello: We're trying to do the same thing here. I don't think we're pulling any punches. When [the Paris attacks] happened, for a split second, I thought, should we be toning this down? For a split second. That's it. And I answered myself, "Absolutely not. If anything, go harder."
This might sound goofy, but the real world is our Easter egg in this story. But I think it's something both of us have always done in our work. 100 Bullets is full of real world. It's the way we work. It's not hard to do. It's really natural.
Nrama: What can you tell people about what's coming up in #2?
Azzarello: There are some really big moments in issue #2. The story breaks open.
Miller: There's quite a shock in the second issue.
Azzarello: Yes. But the women are the stars in this issue.
Nrama: At the end of #1, we were told that Batman is dead. Anything you can fill in about that?
Azzarello: You will have your answer in the next issue.
We're trying to big, big cliffhangers, and I think we succeed. And actually, in issue #2, there are three cliffhangers. One page after the other.
Nrama: Yet you've described the third series, the one happening now, as "Brian's story." How much did you guys collaborate on this?
Azzarello: We sat down and talked the story through. I'm doing a lot of the heavy lifting, but it's both of our's story. I lift up the boxes, and he opens the boxes and tells me, move the boxes. [Laughs.]
It's both of ours, definitely. A lot of the moments are — I think we each have a cliffhanger in this week's issue, for example.
Nrama: Frank, you had announced that you're doing a fourth chapter for Dark Knight. You had said you're writing this one solo. Are you drawing it as well?
Miller: I plan to.