Batman: Curse of the White Knight by Sean Murphy

details
Title: Batman.
Story-Arc: Curse of the White Knight.
Series: The Murphyverse.
Volume: 2.
Writer(s)Sean Murphy.
Illustrator(s)Sean Murphy & Klaus Johnson.
Colourist(s): Matt Hollingsworth.
Letterer(s): Andworld Design.
PublisherDC Black Label.
Format: Hardcover.
Release Date: September 15th, 2020.
Pages: 272.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781779504487.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.

Previously in The Murphyverse:
Batman: White Knight by Sean Murphy.

thoughts

What happens when you lose your footing, when you’re unable to understand who you are and what you’re meant to be in the world, a world where you thought you were welcomed in with open arms? Sometimes, an identity crisis is all you need to walk down a path of enlightenment, a stairway towards purpose and commitment. However, when there’s one person out there who would do anything to see the walls around you crumble, the grounds break apart, and the ceiling fall upon you, you’re surely in for a surprise that could destroy you fundamentally. Collecting the eight issues composing this sequel to the phenomenal masterpiece, Batman: White Knight, written and drawn by Sean Murphy, as well as the one-shot story, Batman: White Knight Presents Von Freeze, written by Sean Murphy and illustrated by Klaus Janson, comes a stellar story exploring the past of Gotham City and its unbound justice, retribution, and execution, as Batman now goes up against Joker and his latest weapon of godly vengeance.

What is Batman: White Knight about? Picking up where things were left in the previous volume, the story presents the Joker’s latest plan to put an end to Bruce Wayne and Batman as Gotham City suffers from their war, with its inhabitants unable to pick sides, struggling to see through the masks of these heroes and villains. Unfortunately, Batman’s allies also have a tough time acknowledging the benefice of his existence as its city sees its foundations struggle to remain solid with the chaos that often comes from his Rogues Gallery. This time around, with Jack Napier repressed by the Joker, it is only a matter of time before the Dark Knight discovers the Clown Prince of Gotham’s plans and it is one that will inevitably unearth deeply-buried secrets from countless centuries ago. At the heart of these plans is a profoundly-deluded religious crusader far deadlier than any knight that Gotham has ever known before. He goes around under the name of Azrael, and he has come to unleash his own form of purification for the city, starting with Bruce Wayne.

“And if he was the good guy, what does that make me?” — Sean Murphy

The creative freedom that creator Sean Murphy is entitled to with these what-if stories set outside DC Comics canon is a blessing to his imagination as he shifts the focus of this latest story-arc from the Joker to another lunatic known as Azrael. How he ties all the narrative threads together to fully dive into some rich history newly-conceived uniquely with the purpose to offer Gotham City an intriguing yet slightly farfetched tale regarding its founding fathers is brilliant. The tone set by this world-building offers fantastic grounds on which to build the identity of the city and its heroes, while expanding on their plight through intergenerational conflicts that continuously seem to permeate through time. While the Joker doesn’t play as much of a role as before, the attention put on both Batman, Azrael, and the rest of the cast makes for an engrossing tale set in an alternate reality that screams with relentless potential.

As rare as they are, for very good reasons, it is also tremendous to see the writer draw his own ideas to life. In this case, creator Sean Murphy accomplishes this with near-perfection as he maintains artistic consistency and coherence throughout his entire story-arc. His character designs are fantastic as well, capturing every significant trait of these characters through his detailed artwork. The narrative flow is also perfect, allowing each page to build the proper tension until shocking reveals are presented, while also meticulously highlighting the little details in facial expressions and character movement. In fact, it’s important to note that this story does steer towards a heavier emotional tale where key characters are challenged into trusting one another as tragedies strike them back to back. Can colourist Matt Hollingsworth even be forgotten in the praise that this one should get? Absolutely not. The darker colours, occasionally washed out, and then suddenly vibrant, is perfectly controlled throughout the story-arc, immensely helping readers to get immersed in a story dripping with history and mythology.

“I am Vengeance. I am God’s Wrath. Here to break the curse, to rise up against you and deliver this land from evil.” — Sean Murphy

This volume also includes a special one-shot story centered around Mr. Freeze, which is apparently set between issues #6 and #7. Instead of being the artist on this project as well, creator Sean Murphy teams up with legendary artist Klaus Johnson to deliver a story set during the rise of Nazis in World War II. While I’m not a huge fan of his artwork at times, this little chapter offered an engrossing story that looked into the division in beliefs regarding the vision of Nazis and the role of parenthood in one’s upbringing. While this story isn’t quintessential to the main story-arcs, I could never say no to more content expanding this alternate universe.

With all that being said, you bet that I look forward to his next chapter in this Murphyverse titled Batman: Beyond the White Knight, which hints to a brand-new neo-futuristic take on Batman Beyond, as well as his Harley Quinn spin-off stories supposedly coming out this October 2020.

Batman: Curse of the White Knight is an excellent sequel exploring the dark secrets of Gotham City through the rise of a devout knight.


EXHIBITA
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!

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17 comments

  • I really enjoyed the original White Knight. It was interesting seeing Batman having to fight against a Joker capable of making entirely cogent points, thereby allowing the writers to explore those characters in vastly different ways. I am definitely going to keep an eye out for the sequel.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Man oh man, does this look (and sound good). I really am getting more and more drawn into the DC universe because of your posts (seriously what are you doing to me lol😂😂)
    I especially like what your are saying about the narrative flow in this one, and of course shocking reveals sounds even better. So you know what this means right? I’m adding another one to my to read list. I really have to order these in one go…..maybe I can get a discount? 😂 Seriously though…great review! 😃

    Liked by 1 person

    • I super duper highly recommend the first volume and this sequel, especially if the first one was a convincing winner for you too! 😉 I’m glad to hear such positive words regarding the DC universe. You just have to pick wisely. 😉 And I’ll gladly do the heavy lifting and sift through all the mediocre ones in the process for you too hahahah 😀 Thanks for reading, Michel!

      Liked by 1 person

  • A really glowing review, Lashaan! …so, why not 5 stars? 😉
    Truthfully, I was not overly taken with White Knight; but you’re very convincing in complimenting this comic, and now I’m tempted to check it out… Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s not as thought-provoking as the first one for me. It also suffers a bit with a backstory that isn’t as tightly-knit as it could’ve been. Otherwise, it can also be summarized as me not being able to give it the same rating as White Knight too hahah

      I’m glad that this review made you a bit more interested in checking out the sequel. Hopefully it entertains you a little! 😉 Thanks for reading, Ola! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • Awesome to see he continues to create fantastic work. Not being too much into DC superheros and Batman, I think I’d be far more likely to try something like this, that goes it’s own way, non-canon. And I had to laugh at the name, Murphyverse, it works so well. 🙂 Really nice review, Lashaan!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Excellent review again, Lashaan! I also enjoyed this story. It didn’t quite blow me away as much as the first White Knight series did. Still really, really good, though. I liked the way Murphy has the Batman “family” working together as a team against the threat of Azrael. How cool does Azrael look fully suited-up? Murphy’s art is stunning, again. Do you reckon he has a thing for drawing vehicles, especially Batmobiles?!?.. Looking forward to seeing what comes next.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, man! I saw your thoughts on it on Goodreads. I’m glad that we agree that it’s a pretty solid story though. Lots of fun to be had with it.

      Yep. The idea of family being tackled throughout this story was nice. Especially when they each have a different stance on how they want to get rid of these villains, especially following those tragedies we learn about in this story.

      Definitely awesome! It’s a nice take on the Knightfall saga if you ask me. While Azrael could’ve been focused on more, he was definitely done right here.

      Hahahah I think he likes the variety of designs that he can draw for Batman’s vehicular repertoire! The possibilities are endless and so many existing designs to inspire himself from too! 😛

      I’m really curious for the Batman Beyond take though, considering that he wants to give it a Blade Runner vibe to it. 😮

      Thanks for reading, though. I appreciate it a lot. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  • AHHH!! A new rival?!? Azrael sounds SO MUCH COOLER than Joker (talking just about the name here! 🤣)

    You know, I am always in awe of how uniform and consistent your reviews are – I, for one, could NEVER manage that! AND THAT’S ANOTHER REASON WHY I LOVE READING YOUR REVIEWS!! 😍😍😍😍

    But…you know….although you say that the darker art compliments the story and all, and I agree, that cover – it’s……why is it looking so…..🤔

    Liked by 1 person

    • With the name of the Archangel of Death, I don’t think Joker could’ve ever won that battle in names too hahahah

      Hahaha I try and keep it around 4 paragraphs with a similar structure just to make it easier for readers and myself to follow and not get too bored along the way. Sometimes I can’t help going overboard because of the number of things I want to say though. 😉

      Like

  • Well, I hate to say this once again, but I still haven’t read the first White Knight series – although I do have the digital edition! Right, I’m going to download that to my ipad today and get it read soon!

    Great review Lashaan, I take it the four star score is due to the one-shot preventing the sequel from being the complete masterpiece you found the first volume to be? I’m intrigued and will be interested to see this new take on Azrael, a character I’ve always had a fondness for due to the Knightfall saga.

    P.S. Did you hear Batman/Catwoman finally has a release date set for December? Think I’ll definitely be reading that as the issues come out, fingers crossed Tom King delivers on this and Rorschach. Also, I see Bendis’s Superman run concludes in December as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You have to fix this as soon as possible hahahah White Knight is on my list of favourites ever since I first read it and I’m sure it will appeal to you one way or another!

      Absolutely. it’s not a bad one-shot, but it does take off a quarter of a star off or something, if I were to be precise. The rest (three quarters) was mostly due to small niggles here and there throughout the story which simply makes it not AS good as White Knight but still fantastic for what it is. In fact, it does feel like a brand-new take on the Knightfall saga. Much more condensed, much wilder! 😀

      I haven’t heard about the Bat/Cat release date but that’s good to know! Hopefully it doesn’t get pushed. I did hear about Bendis and sort of were already convinced by the rumours being tossed around before too on what was going on with him and his runs. Not too surprised considering how sales were going too. I also heard through part 2 of DC FanDome that the Earth One line-up was going to be maybe more regular in terms of schedule! And that DC has some exciting big changes coming soon. 😮 I wonder what they plan on doing soon.

      Liked by 1 person

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