For a long time, film critics and movie buffs considered sequels to acclaimed and/or popular films to be inferior, and they mostly were. Sequels were often cheaper, made with production budgets that were lower (sometimes much lower) than the original film's budget. Sometimes, not only were key members of the original cast missing, but also missing were the original screenwriter(s) and director.
Of course, there were exceptions. Many people think that The Godfather II was a better film than The Godfather, which itself is one of the greatest films of all time. George Lucas may have been unhappy with the reception to The Empire Strikes Back, but almost everyone thinks this sequel was vastly superior to the more famous and financially successful Star Wars (1977). And Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight (2008) practically eclipsed his first Batman film, Batman Begins (2005), which itself was and still is one of the best movies based on a superhero comic book ever made.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (also known simply as The Dark Knight Returns or DKR)) was a four-issue comic book miniseries starring Batman. Published by DC Comics in 1986, this prestige-format comic book was written by Frank Miller; drawn by Miller (pencils) and Klaus Janson (inks); colored by Lynn Varley; and lettered by John Costanza, with the book covers drawn by Miller and Varley. Dark Knight III: The Master Race (also known as DKIII), the second sequel to DKR, is an inferior sequel to a landmark original.
Yes, a planned nine-issue series, DKIII is written by DKR's Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello; drawn by Andy Kubert (pencils) and DKR's Klaus Janson (inks); colored by Brand Anderson; and lettered by Clem Robins. Yes, you have the original author and some of the biggest names in mainstream comic books joining him, but DKIII is not only inferior, but is also nothing more than corporate product meant to cash in on a still-famous original. But first things first...
Dark Knight III: The Master Race #6 finds Batman and Superman leading a revolt against the alien menace from the Bottled City of Kandor (now grown full-size) that has put Gotham City under siege and threatens the same to the rest of the world. Meanwhile, Carrie, the Robin from DKR who is now the new Batgirl(?), battles the new “Supergirl,” who is Lara, the daughter of Superman and Wonder Woman. How does it end? With a death... maybe.
THE LOWDOWN: First, I don't buy that Frank Miller actually has much input in the main narrative. Yeah, you can rag on The Dark Knight Strikes Again (DK2), the original sequel, but it was both original and an eclectic take on familiar comics tropes. DKIII is just a rehash of ideas from DKR – old and aging superheroes, Bat vs. Kryptonian, and some vague law and order themes. In some ways, this doesn't even rise to the level of Azzarello's previous and acclaimed work.
Secondly, The Dark Knight Returns was a “What if” or “Elseworlds” Batman story that DC Comics bosses and comic book fans turned from a special event into an entrenched mindset. They can't let it go, and everything that they have done with it since the debut of DKR only serves to prove how special and of-its-times the original was. Even Frank Miller has not been able to recapture the glory of the original, and honestly, the only thing that Brian Azzarello and Andy Kubert can do is lend their names to the corporate, Batman sub-brand that is “The Dark Knight.”
Dark Knight III: The Master Race is not a bad comic. I bought into the hype, although part of me knew where this was going even while buying the product. There are indeed some stand-out Batman comics being done right now by Scott Snyder and John Romita, Jr. on All-Star Batman and by Tom King and David Finch on Batman.
Dark Knight Universe Presents: World's Finest #1 (Insert comic book)
STORY: Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello
PENCILS: Frank Miller
INKS: Klaus Janson
COLORS: Alex Sinclair
LETTERS: Clem Robins
COVER: Frank Miller with Alex Sinclair
Frank Miller seems to have a bigger hand in these Dark Knight Universe Presents comic books which are inserted in the middle of each issue of DKIII. To date, there has not been much to say about them, and that has not changed.
I READS YOU RECOMMENDS: Those who want this already know who you are.