The Dark Knight has always kept Gotham safe from the diabolical, often fantastical enemies before they hurt the innocent. Being a force for good, now, he’s got a new foe: police misconduct.
On Wednesday, DC Comics released the first issue of “Dark Knight III: Master Race,” the highly anticipated comic from the legendary Frank Miller, who brought us “Dark Knight Returns.”
This time, instead of taking on the maniacal Joker or the whimsical Riddler, Batman squares off against his local police force. In the opening panels of Miller’s new comic, a young black man named Squid who, after being trailed by a police car while walking the streets of Gotham at night, finds himself facing down the barrels of two police guns.
“Getting arrested,” the man texts to his friend. When his friend asks why, he simply replies, “The man don’t need a reason.”
Dark Knight III: The Master Race, written and designed by a legendary team of DC Comic artists, opens with two officers pointing their guns at the man who has his hands up – much like Michael Brown who was killed by the police in Ferguson last summer.
As he runs and tears stream from his eyes, he braces himself for the fatal shot.
But he simply hears a snap, turns, and swooping in from stage right is Batman. Emerging from the city’s shadows, the caped crusader lays the smackdown on the offending officers, saving the young Gothamite from peril.
Batman who has never shied away from controversial subject matter or the time, delivers a highly political and timely storyline on the heels of the Black Lives Matter movement – and it came out just a day after Chicago cop Jason Van Dyke was charged with murdering black teenager, Laquan McDonald. It comes 2 months after Batman 44 featured shooting of a black teenager.
“If we were going to do an issue that dealt with potent problems that people face in cities that are reflected fictitiously in Gotham,’ he told the Guardian, ‘then we want to really put our money where our mouth was and explore something that’s extremely resonant right now, and, I think, tricky, murky waters.”
Now, in retrospect, it seems to have laid the framework to delve deeper into the topic in Dark Knight III.
Frank Miller – the original Dark Knight Returns artist who was brought back to pen the threequel – explained in a recent interview with Vulture that his Batman started out in the mid-80s as a hero who reestablished order in the face of police corruption.
Reflecting on The Dark Knight Returns, he said: “The idea was that he was, like Robin Hood, a character introduced in a time when the established order was wrong and had to be overturned. So he is, politically, a radical and a revolutionary out to overthrow a corrupt police state. Part of my job is to provoke,” Miller admitted in the interview. “That means I’m getting your interest.”
“It’s a very patriotic and loyal-to-the-law kind of story, but the established authorities were doing the wrong thing, so it took an outlaw to bring justice.”
Back then, Ronald Reagan and the Cold War were the political touchstones that set the tone.
Now, the socioeconomic problems are quite different.
According to DC Entertainment, this is not an isolated story line and will be further developed down the line.