Writer: Sean Murphy / Artist: Sean Murphy / DC Comics
There’s so much to love in this iteration of Batman and the melting of Gotham’s mythos with reality. No doubt a hard line to walk, taking the fantastical elements of a caped superhero and his greatest villains and apply real-life logic the consequences of their ongoing struggles, but Batman: White Knight attempts just that: to allow Batman to be Batman is an expensive, unchecked abuse of power and money that ultimately amounts to political corruption. The result is a Batman story that adds a layer of thoughtfulness that brings Gotham close to home. And the costs of his methods – to the city and, on a personal level, the relationships around him – are high.
Alfred is on his deathbed, unable to be the moral compass that helps keep Batman under control. Nightwing and Batgirl are at their wits end, nearly to the point of standing up in opposition against their leader who is more unhinged now than ever. Even Commissioner Gordon is having second thoughts about the mayhem he unofficially sanctions. All the while, Batman continues his stubborn recklessness and Jack Napier – formerly the Joker – is there to highlight the corruption of it all to show the people, and the laws, how they allow it to happen.
While the issue’s pull comes from the growing emotional strain between our long-known characters, the plot hook comes from a surprise introduction. There’s a second Harley Quinn, scorned by the newly-sane Joker, who’s about to make her grand entrance. Her role will be a big one in White Knight, and her plan – and her character – an interesting new addition to this alternate-universe series.
Artistically, Sean Murphy continues to draw a suspenseful and well-paced book, landing action, emotion, and even sporadic comedy. White Knight is a tension-building page turner. Most unfortunate (perhaps yet again, depending how you took the Black Lives Matter imagery of issue #2), is a hackneyed portrayal of Nameless Black Thug #1 and #2. With the real-life feel this comic is going for, written from an outside perspective, there’s a sense that these depictions will not improve anytime soon; so if you cringe in worry with each return to Backport, hold your breath, power through, and exhale when you return to the safer thrill ride of the story. Then refuel and get back to writing that creative project you started, because we need your voice in entertainment, too.
Reading Batman: White Knight? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.