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3/01/2016

Batman Dark Knight III The Master Race Collector's Hardcover Edition Set

Script Brian Azzarello and Frank Miller, art by Andy Kubert (with inks by Klaus Janson), Frank Miller, Eduardo Risso, John Romita Jr.. All material is ©DC Comics.
For a complete list of  all books reviewed in this blog, please visit the index page.










This article deals with the box set collector's edition of Dark Knight III: The Master Race. This collected edition is edited by Mark Doyle. Louis Prandi & Amie Brockway-Metcalf are credited for publication design.




Notice that the overall size and design of this collector's slipcase box set is very similar to the the Batman Return of The Dark Knight collector's box sett and the Watchmen 2016 collector's box set: covers of the slipcase form a single illustration, and the spines are numbered at the bottom. The publisher refers to this collected line with slipcase as DC’s Deluxe Edition trim size.



This collector's edition of DK III The Master Race was originally published book by book, more or less on a monthly basis starting from November 2015, up to June 2017. The box set itself was made available to purchase with the last issue (#9, same price as the single books). All hardcover books, which are a slightly larger than the regular comics (7.5 x 11 inches or 18.5 x 28 cm, cover price $12.99), were printed on thick glossy paper (in Canada), with a glued binding. Front and back end-papers are plain black. A picture below is for size comparison between book one and issue #2 of DK II The Dark Knight Strikes Again original edition, but interior art is probably the same size for both version.



the glued binding

At the end of the article there are some insights regarding the initial project (8 books instead of 9, mock-up box-set ..).


Book One, has been published in December 2015 in its hardcover form, with an exclusive penciled cover by Jim Lee:

notice the numbered spine



This is the credit pages and excerpts from the main story (28 pages).









In this collector's edition set, the "mini-comic" Atom #1 (12 pages) is printed in the same way as the main story, right after it.








In the regular "floppy", the 12 pages mini-comic (5.5 x 8.5 inches or 14 x 21.5 cm) was glued in the middle of the main comic, on a piece (one page and a quarter) of thick bristol insert (thanks to Genug from the BDGest community for the pictures):





The collector's hardcover edition also features a virgin cover gallery (which is not the case for the regular edition), including:
  • Andy Kubert & Klaus Janson regular cover (see above),
  • Frank Miller & Alex Sinclair variant cover
  • Klaus Janson & Brad Anderson variant cover
Frank Miller & Alex Sinclair

Klaus Janson & Brad Anderson

At least 71 covers have been produced for this first issue. I really don't intend to own them all (they are listed here), but as I also owned the digital "regular" comics, notice that the latter contains also a cover gallery with three more variant covers (but not the pencil cover of the hardcover edition), and the illustration for Atom #1 in its full virgin form:

illustration for Atom #1 by Frank Miller & Alex Sinclair

Jill Thompson

Dave Gibbons

Jim Lee final cover



Book Two, has been published in January 2015 in its hardcover form, with an exclusive penciled cover by Jim Lee:




This is the credit pages and excerpts from the main story (28 pages).





An this is the 12 pages mini-comic, Wonder Woman #1:







Again, this collector's hardcover edition also features a virgin cover gallery (which is not the case for the regular edition), including:
  • Andy Kubert (and only Andy Kubert, thanks Kilesio for pointing that out) regular cover,
  • Frank Miller & Alex Sinclair variant cover
  • Klaus Janson & Brad Anderson variant cover

Andy Kubert's regular cover

Frank Miller & Alex Sinclair

Klaus Janson & Brad Robertson

In the digital "regular" comics, the cover gallery contains three more variant covers, thus it contains all of the variant covers produced for this issue (except the pencil cover of the hardcover edition, and special variant covers produced for comic shops):

Cliff Chiang

Eduardo Risso

Jim Lee final cover

Book Three, has been published in March 2016 in its hardcover form, with an exclusive penciled cover by Jim Lee:




This is the credit pages and excerpts from the main story (28 pages).







An this is the 12 pages mini-comic, Green Lantern #1:

John Romita Jr. cover




This is the virgin cover gallery of this third collector's hardcover (not included in the regular edition):
  • Andy Kubert & Brad Anderson regular cover,
  • Frank Miller & Alex Sinclair variant cover
  • Klaus Janson & Dean White variant cover
  • John Romita Jr. & Dean White variant cover
Andy Kubert & Brad Anderson

left Hand side Frank Miller & Alex Sinclair, right hand side Klaus Janson & Dean White

John Romita Jr. & Dean White

In the digital "regular" comics, the cover gallery contains two more variant covers, thus it contains all of the variant covers produced for this issue (except the pencil cover of the hardcover edition and special variant covers produced for comic shops):


Scott McDaniel

Jim Lee final cover

Book Four, has been published in May 2016 in its hardcover form, with an exclusive penciled cover by Jim Lee:



This is the credit pages and excerpts from the main story (23 pages).







An this is the 12 pages mini-comic, Batgirl #1, and also notice that the regular cover by Andy Kubert & Klaus Janson is this time printed between the main story and the mini-comics.

left hand side, Andy Kubert & Klaus Janson regular cover






And that's it! There is absolutely no cover gallery in this fourth issue, only the regular cover cited above. And yet, as always the digital version features all five variant covers produced for this issue (except the penciled cover of the hardcover edition and special variant covers produced for comic shops), and four pages of pencil art!

Klaus Janson

Jim Lee final cover

Frank Miller & Alex Sinclair

Paul Pope

Rafael Albuquerque





Book Five, has been published in July 2016 in its hardcover form, with an exclusive penciled cover by Jim Lee:



notice the SEP 2016 indication

This is the credit pages and excerpts from the main story (23 pages).









An this is the 12 pages mini-comic, Lara #1, and notice that the regular cover is not reprinted here, and instead we have another Andy Kubert & Brad Anderson cover printed between the main story and the mini-comics.







And again that's it! In addition to have 5 page less for the main story (it was the same thing for issue #4), there is absolutely no cover gallery in this fifth issue, only the cover cited above. And yet, as always the digital version features all five variant covers produced for this issue (except the pencil cover of the hardcover edition and special variant covers produced for comic shops), and four extra pages of inked art.



Karl Kerschl

Klaus Janson

Paul Pope

Frank Miller

Jim Lee final colored cover

Book Six, has been published in November 2016 in its hardcover form, with an exclusive penciled cover by Jim Lee:



notice the DEC 2016 indicaton

This is the credit pages and excerpts from the main story (only 20 pages).





An this is the 12 pages mini-comic, World's Finest #1.




In this sixth issue, the cover gallery reappeared, probably to compensate the page shortage of the main story.
  • Andy Kubert & Brad Anderson regular cover,
  • Frank Miller & Alex Sinclair variant cover
  • Klaus Janson & Romulo Fajardo variant cover

to the right, Klaus Janson & Brad Anerson regular cover
Frank Miller & Ian Sinclair

Klaus Janson & Remulo Fajardo

And what about the digital edition? It features all five variant covers produced for this issue (except the pencil cover of the hardcover edition and special variant covers produced for comic shops).

Giuseppe Camuncoli

Greg Tocchini

Jim Lee final colored cover


Book Seven, has been published in January 2017 in its hardcover form, with an exclusive penciled cover by Jim Lee:





This is the credit pages and excerpts from the main story (22 pages).







An this is the 12 pages mini-comic, Strange Adventures #1.






In this seventh issue, a short cover gallery is also presents.
  • Andy Kubert & Brad Anderson regular cover (see above)
  • Frank Miller & Alex Sinclair variant cover

Frank Miller & Alex Sinclair
The digital edition features all five variant covers produced for this issue (except the pencil cover of the hardcover edition and special variant covers produced for comic shops). And it also features 5 extra pages of inked art between the main story and the mini comic.




Chris Burnham

Howard Chaykin

Jim Lee colored cover

Klaus Janson




Book Eight, has been published in May 2017 in its hardcover form, with an exclusive penciled cover by Jim Lee:





This is the credit pages and excerpts from the main story (22 pages).







An this is the 12 pages mini-comic, Detective Comics #1.






In this eigth issue, a short cover gallery is also presents.
  • Andy Kubert & Brad Anderson regular cover
  • Frank Miller & Alex Sinclair variant cover (see above)

Andy Kubert & Brad Anderson

Notice that again, the digital edition is better loaded with extras. It features all five variant covers produced for this issue (except the pencil cover of the hardcover edition and special variant covers produced for comic shops). And it also features the equivalent of 7 extra pages of inked art between the main story and the mini comic.






Bill Sienkiewicz

Jim Lee colored cover

Klaus Janson

Riley Rossmo


Book Nine, has been published in June 2017 in its hardcover form, with an exclusive penciled cover by Jim Lee.





The book was sold with the intended box set, and the lot could stand as a standalone purchase. Indeed, an extra "drawer" displays the rest of the spines illustration.



This is the credit pages and excerpts from the main story (27 pages for this final issue).








An this is the 12 pages mini-comic, Detective Comics #1, preceded by a pin-up by Frank Miller & Alex Sinclair






In this ninth issue, a more comprehensive cover gallery is presents.
  • Andy Kubert & Brad Anderson regular cover (see above)
  • Frank Miller & Alex Sinclair variant cover
  • Klaus Janson & Alex Sinclair variant cover
  • Mikel Janin variant cover

to the left Frank Miller & Alex Sinclair, to the right Klaus Janson & Alex Sinclair

Mikel Janin

So, with this last issue, the extra contents and quantity of main material have been finally enhanced. But still, the digital edition has more as it features the pin-up, all six variant covers produced for this issue (except the pencil cover of the hardcover edition and special variant covers produced for comic shops), and 8 extra pages of inked art between the main story and the mini comic.





Chip Kidd

Frank Quitely

Jim Lee & Scott Williams colored cover


Now to finish this article (almost two years in the making!), here's some additional pictures of the original project. Initially, this series was intended to have 8 issues, but another issue was eventually produced. The numbered spines were designed to form an illustration with the lateral parts of the slipcase. Pictures below are from the mock-up presentation displayed at the Diamond Retailer Summit in Baltimore in 2015 (at that time, only 8 issues were planned).

picture from The Beat Comic Culture

picture from Bleeding Cool

picture from Curious Comics
image from DC solicitation

29 comments:

  1. Comme je le disais, une fort belle idée de blog.

    Merci. [-_ô]

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  2. Love how detailed your pictures are, keep it up!

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  3. Thanks for the kind word, I will! (but will wait for issue #4 to update my article)

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  4. Can't wait to get WHOLE story in HC or ABSOLUTE with ALL variants (bolland, kelley jones, sienkiewicz, capullo, timm, cooke etc...). Hope DC won't screw it up and won't put all variant covers!!!!

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    Replies
    1. I wouldn't mind having the Sienkiewicz variant indeed.

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    3. By the way I can't believe DC didn't include full cover of Atom. They included full wraparound variant cover of #1 by Miller but in Atom case only half of the cover and Superman is cut in half!!!!! Damn You.
      Oh and #4 without variants????
      Whoever edits these HCs must be totaly idiot :(
      I wonder what DC will do with "Last Crusade" one shot. Will they print it in DK3 HC edition or not?

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    4. and you won't be more happy to learn that the digital edition also includes four Kubert pencils pages not featured in the HC edition, that I forgot to list in my article. I have uploaded these pages above.

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    5. But You can't put digital edition on your shelf :] If I want to read anything "digital" I download scans in .cbr format. Then after reading and liking downloaded comic I buy traditional paper book where I hope to get ALL art from single issue :)

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    6. But yeah. I know what You mean. DC editors SUCK.

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    7. I still have hope that the absence of extra in issue #4 was a genuine mistake. We will know for sure very soon.

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  5. Replies
    1. I, here I tend to buy these books two by two (they already cost a lot for what they are), so I will get #5 at the moment #6 will be out (in the meantime I read the story in digital form).

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  6. It's me again :D
    #2 regular cover is ONLY by Andy Kubert. I don't understand why editors put Andy Kubert & Klaus Janson description on the cover.

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    Replies
    1. Yes looking at it again you are clearly right. Thanks!

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  7. What do you guys think they're going to do about the fact the series is now going to be 9 issues (I've heard possibly even longer?) If the slipcase hasn't been printed yet, I assume they could adjust its width and move some of the slipcase part of the image from the front of the slipcase onto the spine of #9, but I have a bad feeling DC will mess it up. I'm hoping someone tweets Jim Lee and point out to him how supporters of these editions have been screwed and they choose to make it up really nicely, maybe even throw in an extra unannounced book (even a floppy) collecting all the covers produced for this series (which are very oddly almost all tribute art to the first series, not related to DKIII, which I am enjoying quite a bit, though wish it had more innovative coloring by someone like Bellaire or Fco Placenta.

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    Replies
    1. I have tweeted the specific editor of this series, about the lack of bonus material in the latest issues, and post a comment on DC website, but never had a comment in return. I like your suggestions. And really enjoying too this DKIII series.

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    2. Man I really hope DC won't screw it up but honestly I don't count on it.
      Editors in DC are idiots. They print "director's cut" specials no one ever cares but they won't print special issue with only cover gallery. I'm 100% sure everyone would pay $6 in prestige format (like: last crusade) for 64 pages of DK3 variant covers only.

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  8. Do you know if the DK2 will be released in collector edition, the same size as the dark knight returns and the Dark Knight Master race

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    Replies
    1. Not to my knowledge, but it could be a good idea indeed. Although I am not convinced of the building quality of the slipcases here.

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  9. Great recap here, my friend.

    Personally, I'm waiting for a deluxe edition once the mini is complete, or even a Dark Knight Omnibus collecting DKR, DK2, DKIII and the Last Crusade.

    We can dream, can't we?

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  10. Hi JJ87. Yes, it can be an nice idea, although if the authors minds is still set to go beyond DKIII it could be a long wait! With DKIII and the last crusade they could published a nice Absolute edition to go with the DK/DKII one.

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    Replies
    1. Awesome. Good to see the article completed.

      As a humble suggestion, it would be cool if you add a complementary picture showing how this set looks side-by-side with the similar trim size slipcase edition that was released for DKR.

      Cheers!

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    2. Done! (near the beginning of this article)

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  11. I was really relieved when I finally got #9 with the slipcase and it was a pretty sturdy box and fit well despite the extra issue being added mid-series. Sat and read the series and was happy with it, too, though it is a much simpler and more drawn-out plot than the first and second Dark Knight stories. I *really* wish these collector editions had featured Miller's variant covers instead of Jim Lee pencils, which just seems like a bizarre choice. I think he's not bad most of the time, and I liked his work on All Star Batman, but he has nothing to do with DK3 really, and even the covers were mostly related to DK1, not the current series.

    What did everyone do with the extra "drawer"/filler from the slipcase? I'm using it as a tray/box for my floppy read pile.

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