Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Is Dark Knight III: The Master Race a comic book, or just a vehicle for variant covers?

That's probably not too terribly legible, but it's the credit page for the first issue of Dark Knight III: The Master Race. Those long columns of credits are the artists responsible for the "retailer" variants; there are another handful of "regular" variants. All in all, there are 49 variant covers listed on this page, although I'm pretty sure between black-and-white versions, blank covers and the super-rare incentive variants, there's likely well over 50 variants for this book, making it, perhaps, DC's answer to Mavel's Star Wars #1, which I believe had somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 variants, if I put the comma in the right place.

Looking at that list, I can't help but wonder if maybe DC shouldn't have just published a comic book format "gallery" like they used to occasionally did in the 190s, a tribute to Frank Miller's Dark Knight comics by top creators (If you've seen many of the variant covers, you'll notice none are specific to this new series, of which only one issue has been released, after all, but to the original Dark Knight Returns series).

It's a very strong line-up, including some of my favorite artists--

--and at least one from an artist I never would have expected to produce a variant cover for a prestigious DC superhero comics project, Kevin Eastman--
(Although given the fact that it was already announced that Eastman would be contributing variant covers to the upcoming Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cover, his presence seems much less out-of-left-field than it might have otherwise.)

On the other hand, I'm sure DC is going to make many, many, many times more money publishing a new Miller-attached Dark Knight comic book series with 50-100 variant covers than they would just publishing a Dark Knight Returns tribute gallery book.

The good news is that the book itself is pretty alright, particularly if you view it for what it is--Brian Azzarello and Andy Kubert doing their best Frank Miller impressions in homage to Dark Knight Returns, with an actual Frank Miller mini-comic embedded in the middle of it. Also, there was at least one incredibly shocking moment in the book, something I never expected to see in a DC comic book. Not because it was over-the-top or anything (it's not; it's a perfectly natural thing, really), but given the particular character and the fact that what she's doing is still deemed "controversial" in some circles, I was surprised to see it appear here, and in the way it appeared.

Anyway, I'm sure I'll be talking in greater length and with (hopefully) greater insight on the book at some point later in the very near future. In the mean time, I just wanted to point out that Good God that is so many variants! and, while I generally think variants are a pox upon the industry, it is at least nice to know that it lead to so many great images from so many great artists, like those whose work is pictured above.

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