STORY BY: Sean Murphy
ART BY: Sean Murphy
COVER BY: Sean Murphy
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
Date: July 23, 2019
Spoilers incoming for Batman: White Knight (2017) and Batman: Curse of the White Knight #1.
Batman: White Knight stood out for two reasons. One, it’s an 8 issue miniseries drawn by the amazingly talented Sean Murphy. Two, it featured a simple yet effective elevator pitch – what if the Joker was sane and Batman became the villain?
Wayne’s Murky Past
Following the events of 2017’s Batman: White Knight, the good old Jack Napier has again devolved into Joker, and the Clown Prince of Crime is hellbent on undoing all the good his later ego accomplished for Gotham. To do so, he joins forces with Azrael to expose a terrible secret from the Wayne family’s past.
Murphy places the emphasis firmly on Bruce Wayne this time around as compared to White Knight and his struggle to deal with the death of Alfred and his own failures. There’s a humanity and sympathy to the character that was mostly missing. This book is absolutely gorgeous featuring inspired takes on the Dark Knight and his supporting cast throughout the issue. It includes one heart-tugging scene between Alfred and Bruce. Even though it’s simply through a letter, you feel every word’s impact from beginning to end.
In this explosive sequel to the critically acclaimed blockbuster BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT, The Joker recruits Azrael to help him expose a shocking secret from the Wayne family’s legacy and to bury Gotham City into the ground! As Batman rushes to protect the city and his loved ones from danger, the mystery of his true ancestry unravels, giving a devastating blow to the Dark Knight! Exciting new villains and unexpected allies clash in this unforgettable chapter of the White Knight saga and the truth about the blood they shed shakes Gotham to its core!
Sean Murphy’s brilliant Joker-related wagers continue to pay off. White Knight and Curse of the White Knight prove that there’s nothing inherently wrong with giving Joker a name and a clear origin story, so long as those elements are used for a specific purpose and in a self-contained universe. If White Knight was about Joker’s alter ego, Jack Napier struggling to atone for his crimes as Joker, Curse of the White Knight is about Joker trying to reclaim his fearsome reputation in Gotham that Napier systematically ruined. If you’ve always thought of the Joker as an inhuman force of chaos, then this Joker is far more relatable and has clear, more understandable motives.
For as the plot of this sequel goes, the art remains the driving force. The artist depicts a gorgeous take on Gotham and its inhabitants. Clearly, Sean Murphy is a huge fan of Batman: The Animated Series and the 1989 classic movie. His inspirations from the movie are vividly reflected in the characters and the vehicles. Even when Joker stabs an adversary in the neck can be recalled to the classic Batman style. But no matter how much Murphy draws from the past, he also inarguably sets his own vision of Gotham.
While Curse of the White Knight #1 ends before it has a chance to fully unearth the dark side and debut its version of Azrael, this mini-series is pretty powerful and already establishing itself as a worthy follow-up to its predecessor. The art remains as gorgeous as ever. Both, Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth have done an amazing job that is vividly visible through the strong looks bolstered by a more nuanced approach to Batman himself, along with a version of the Joker who manages to be both terrifying and human at the same time.