BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT #1 by Sean Murphy
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
Sean Murphy has created a Gotham that fans will feel nostalgic about on every page. Analyzing the relationship between Batman and the Joker, testing to see if Batman really can exist without his archenemy. Asking, what happens if the Joker is cured of his madness?
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Monumental and Gripping from Page One
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BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT #1 is both written and drawn by comics superstar Sean Murphy. Part one of a seven-issue series, BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT #1 takes readers to a Gotham that many fans may feel oddly familiar with. Incorporating elements from the Burton-verse and the animated series, it’s filled with nostalgia. Additionally, it posits a curious thought in the DC universe: what would happen if the Joker was cured? It questions Batman’s purpose and meaning as a hero regarding him and the Joker. So, the question yet again asked, does Batman only exist because of the Joker?

BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT #1

Fire spews out of the engine of the Batmobile as it drives through the gates of Arkham Asylum. A dark figure approaches the entrance and to the cages of the inmates. One of the doors unlocks and there he sits, Batman, chained up in a cell. The Joke—Mr. Napier walks forward calm and collected, faces Batman as he rises, and asks for his help. A year prior, Batman pushed himself to the edge chasing down the Joker. He soars over drawbridges, drives the Batmobile over rooftops, and batters through a construction site for what seems to be their final fight. Batman crosses a line, and his actions may have changed the Joker forever. Leaving the Joker brutally beaten, hospitalized, and apparently cured of his madness.

BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT #1
BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT #1 page 4. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT #1 blends some of the most iconic Batman mythoi together. The use of Jack Napier as the Joker’s real identity has never been done in the comics before, originally conceived in Tim Burton’s 1989 BATMAN film. Halfway through the issue, we see a splash page depicting some of the Jokers origins. Again, another reference to Burton’s film with a white hand and melted glove rising out of a toxic pool. Included as well is Jack’s career as a comedian, as seen in Alan Moore’s THE KILLING JOKE. Also, having the Joker using makeup instead of having bleached skin is another interesting trait, and one rarely seen. Murphy also includes other fan favorites such as Alfred, Nightwing, Batgirl, Detective Bullock, Commissioner Gordon, and Harley Quinn.

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Dark Knight

So Sean Murphy will likely blow minds away with this series. Granted, the beginning of the issue may feel overdone. Hearing the Joker speak about the never-ending battle between him and Batman is nothing new. Bringing this out early in the story, though, along with reminding Batman of his failures, better emphasizes his upcoming change. A twist on their eternal dance of death. Murphy has executed fluid storytelling that consistently builds throughout the issue, adding layer after layer to this world and leaving readers wanting to know Jack’s next move.

Scott Snyder did a similar idea of curing the Joker in his Batman run, but this cranks that concept up to eleven. Murphy goes deeper and creates a different version of the Joker altogether with this new persona. Another thing that caught my attention were Nightwing and Batgirl’s designs, Nightwing with a blue biker jacket and Batgirl sporting a domino mask instead of a full helmet. Murphy’s artwork and designs show a dark and gritty Gotham City.

BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT #1
BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT #1 page 13. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Light Knight

Murphy’s artwork has always been exquisite, and seeing him back on a Batman story is a huge treat. He fills the issue with background details and moments that are crucial to the storyline itself. Not only for narrative purposes, there are also easily-overlookable references to so much of Batman’s history, making it a joy to admire every page. One, in particular, shows Jack in a cell loaded with Batman memorabilia. From posters and toys from scenes of the 1989 film as well as BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES to Batmobiles from various interpretations.

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BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT #1
BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT #1 page 17. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

 The Joke’s On You

Overall, BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT looks like a phenomenal series to keep up on. Sean Murphy delivers a book that any fan can pick up and immediately enjoy. A great Bat-tale that looks like it will unfold to something bigger than what it’s already proved to be. Along with stunning artwork full of detail and references to keep readers scanning every inch of the page, Murphy has really put his skills to the test and has a lot to show. It will be interesting how a possibly sane Joker will act, along with how Gotham will perceive him. Batman has flooded the DC Universe recently, but this book definitely stands out among is recent titles. So we’ll be excited to find out what comes next!

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