So much hype, so little delivery. That has been the story so far for The Master Race as the series continually disappoints and underwhelms. The question is, now that the introductory issues are out of the way will the action pick up?
No. No it won’t.
The fact is that all of the joy and novelty that once surrounded this concept has now drained away leaving behind a sorry husk of a comic. This book is not innovative, it is not interesting, and it simply is not good.
A big selling point for the Dark Knight Returns and The Dark Knight Strikes Again was the groundbreaking tale being told in each of those books. The idea of an elderly Batman struggling to keep fighting the good fight against ever evolving villains really intrigued a great number of readers and it led to a beloved series of books. The problem now is that old man Batman is no longer fresh and the story being told is not in the least bit original or engaging.
The big bad this time comes in the form of an invading group of Kandorians, fresh off of their release from the bottle city of Kandor. Invading forces from a Kryptonian city is hardly something new for even the most comic adverse of readers. It is something that has been done to death and done a great deal better with characters such as Zod.
Miller and Azzarello seem to be hell bent on laying the Middle Eastern Terrorist theme on thick. You would have to be blind not to see the blatant portrayal of the Kandorians as this type of threat. It’s possible that they thought this would make their work more zeitgeisty and play on people’s very real fears but all it has managed to do is make for a heavy handed affair with very little style of substance.
Another literary crime being committed on just about every page is the refusal to allow any of characters to speak in anything other than random non sequiturs and vague utterances. It makes for an annoying read if not a totally confusing one. It also doesn’t allow for the story to develop in a particularly effective manner as the dialogue and thus the interactions feel stunted, bordering on meaningless.
Even Superman and Batman don’t come across as being special or noteworthy in their many scenes. If this were the first time you’d seen an old broken Bat you might be shocked and desperate for the fire to return to him but at this point it is just a commonplace trope with a very diminished dramatic effect. Superman returning to action is also decidedly lackluster as he just sort of hears that his people are invading and awakes from his icy slumber. It’s incredibly anticlimactic and honestly, Miller should be better than this.
The only enjoyable bit in this entire comic were the two pages dedicated to a little social and political satire. American gun laws were mocked as was Donald Drumpf (Thank you, John Oliver). It all made for a welcome break from the drudgery of the rest of the book, it’s just a shame it was so brief.
The art on offer was good at least. The team of Andy Kubert, Klaus Janson, John Romita Jr., and Frank Miller on art and Brad Anderson, and Alex Sinclair on colours is more than a little bloated but it cannot be denied they have created a very good looking book that is worthy of a far better narrative to go along with it. Admittedly, the cover is the best piece of art on offer but nothing else falls far below that mark.
Alongside this comic is another supplementary story, this time telling of Hal Jordan trying to defend earth from some Godly minded Kryptonian women. It is rather difficult to give much of a review on this mini-comic as it was such a weird cluster of a story. It made precious little sense and will likely have impressed or entertained no one at all. A waste of paper.
It has been said that things rarely ever live up the hype (Unless it’s a Deadpool movie) but in most cases there is at least some clear effort to try to. There is no such effort here as Miller et al seem content to drag out another tired storyline to cash in on the success of the first two collections. This is lazy, cynical comic making at its worst and it is upsetting that it will still succeed in netting a huge profit.
Score: 1 out of 5.
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