Fourteen years after its first sequel, pivotal graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns is getting another: The Dark Knight 3: The Master Race, from comics writer Brian Azzarello and Dark Knight creator Frank Miller himself.
For the occasion, Miller tweeted for the first time in nearly four years:
I hope that by now my silence is deafening pic.twitter.com/4E0xi4LHju— Frank Miller (@FrankMillerInk) April 24, 2015
From DC's press release:
"THE DARK KNIGHT III: THE MASTER RACE" is the sequel to Miller’s 1986 classic THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS – heralded by TIME Magazine as one of the 10 greatest graphic novels of all time – and its 2001-2002 follow-up series BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT STRIKES AGAIN.
Miller will be joined by acclaimed writer Brian Azzarello (100 BULLETS, JOKER, and WONDER WOMAN) on the eight-issue comic book periodical, to be published twice a month under the DC Comics imprint. Marking the 30th anniversary of THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS original series, this periodical is slated for publication beginning in late Fall 2015.
The release states that artists for the project have yet to be announced, perhaps indicating that writer/artist Miller will merely be writing the comic.
Published in 1986, The Dark Knight Returns was one of the first superhero graphic novels to be recognized by mainstream book critics. Along with contemporary stories like Watchmen and The Killing Joke, comics that grounded superheroes in emotional and textual content inappropriate (or simply irrelevant) to children, it had a huge influence on the course of American superhero comics and helped significantly to push a non-Adam-West version of Batman into the larger cultural consciousness. Its impact is still felt today, most recently in the clear homages in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
The question of whether The Dark Knight Returns actually lives up to its legacy, nearly 30 years on when the "anti-hero" is just as dominant in our culture as the "hero," is a significantly open one. A 2001 sequel, written and drawn by Miller and called The Dark Knight Strikes Again, was significantly less well received. Miller's last published Batman project was All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder, also poorly received and plagued by delays, lengthy hiatuses and an infamous printing error in which issues were shipped with curse words un-blanked from the issue's dialogue.
Miller's last published nearly Batman-related project was his comic Holy Terror, initially proposed as Holy Terror, Batman!, a book (described by Miller as "a piece of propaganda") in which Batman "kicks Al-Qaeda's ass." The story was eventually published by Legendary Comics after Miller decided not to pursue the use of Batman as its protagonist. Relatedly, in the intervening years since The Dark Knight Rises hit stands, Miller has often made news for his political views as well as his printed work, primarily for his opinion that Islamic religion is a threat to America. Though he also infamously referred to Occupy Wall Street protesters as "pond scum" and "a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness."
This new Dark Knight sequel's title, The Master Race, immediately conjures up an image of Nazi Germany, though it's unclear what it will mean within the book itself. DC Comics' press release offers no information about the comic's story, so at the moment all we have for an expanded context is the image attached to the announcement: the iconic crouched Caped Crusader from The Dark Knight Rises's cover art, his hands bloody, juxtaposed over the Superman symbol, also dripping blood.
It's like we're all back in 1986 again, for better ... or worse.