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Batman: Curse of the White Knight #1 (DC Comics)
Batman: White Knight was a critical and commercial smash for DC and Sean Gordon Murphy, so it’s no surprise that a sequel has come along to expand this corner of the DC universe that I’ll coin the “Murphy-verse”. Unlike the original series, which put a new dynamic on the Joker/Batman relationship, Curse of the White Knight looks back into the past of the Waynes and their ties to Gotham, creating a much different story than the previous one.
The Joker is back to normal (well, by his standards), and is hell-bent on destroying Batman again. Despite creating a new peace keeping task force from his time as Jack Napier, Joker wants to see Gotham, and specifically Bruce Wayne, pay for some past misdeed that has ties to the very start of the Wayne lineage in Gotham City. And to do it, he needs the help of Jean Paul Valley, an aging war veteran who has ties to the early days of the Wayne family…
Like the original series, Curse of the White Knight is very much Sean Murphy’s spin on the Batman universe. Murphy’s take on the Dark Knight and his world is pretty stellar, and his characterizations of the various familiar characters in Batman’s orbit are spot on. But what makes Curse stand out is how much time is devoted to the fall out of White Knight, which found characters like Nightwing and Batgirl decide to work with the Gotham Police Department as deputized officers, and featured the death of Alfred Pennyworth. The fallout of both of those actions, and the Joker’s time as Jack Napier, have created a profound effect on Bruce Wayne’s already dark sensibilities. Cutting himself off from the world around him, he’s quickly at odds with Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon, and it creates a fascinating look into the Dark Knight when he’s forced to confront the idea that his methods may actually be more harmful to Gotham City than helpful.
It goes without saying, but Sean Murphy is easily one of the best artists in the business, and nowhere is that more apparent then with this issue and the series that came before it. Every character is instantly recognizable, but given their own spin to add a personal touch to them. Batman rocks a cool Dracula collar, Batgirl has a streamlined costume design, and Nightwing wears a baseball hat with his crimefighting uniform. They’re all neat little touches that don’t mess with the stuff that works for the characters.
A lot has been made of the inclusion of Azrael to this new sequel, and while we don’t see him in full costume yet, Murphy’s new take on the character is pretty intriguing so far. As a child of the 90’s I have a huge soft spot for the character, and the insanely cool teaser art from Murphy featuring him has me very excited to see a new spin on a character that hasn’t been used well in some time. So far, Curse of he White Knight is shaping up to be a worthy sequel to the original, and I can’t wait for the next issue.