Batman: Curse of the White Knight by Sean Murphy, Klaus Janson and Matt Hollingsworth
DC Black Label, HB, £25.00
Reviewed by Sarah Deeming
The alternate personality of Jack Napier has been forced back deep inside the Joker’s psyche, and the Clown Prince of Crime is ready to continue his ongoing war with Batman. With a new recruit on his side, the Joker is delving into Gotham’s origins for a secret that could destroy everything Batman holds dear. As Batman tries to keep on one step ahead of the Joker and Azreal, the Joker’s fiery sword-wielding ally, his own supporter fade away through distrust and death. Will Batman have anyone left to help him when he uncovers the truth about his past?
The Curse of the White Knight is the second in the Murphyversem following on from Batman: White Knight where the Joker battles Batman in the realms of sanity as Jack Napier and creates the Batman Devastation Fund.
The story is told in two timelines, the present with Batman which is dark and gritty, heavy with blacks and reds, and 17th Century with Edmond Wayne. The colours used for the past are lighter, a sepia effect which clearly defines the time frame without the need to tell us. However, setting information is provided, which is also useful as we move through the 17th Century.
Another change was the style of the artwork. The deep shadows and lantern-jawed characters of the present are replaced with a swashbuckling historical hero with a slender, visible face. It is impactful when Batman and Edgar Wayne are on the same spread, demonstrating the change in the hero needed at the different stages of Gotham’s development.
I read The Curse of the White Knight without having read White Knight first, and I was able to follow the storyline. That said, there were references to Jack Napier which, while I understood, I didn’t get all the nuances because I hadn’t read the first in the series. But I was intrigued by those references to the previous work, so Batman White Knight has made it’s way to my TBR pile.
The overarching theme is about what it takes to be a hero, to make a difference. Is it a family name? Is it almost unlimited wealth? Or is it the courage to stand in front of chaos and fight for people who will never know your name?
At the end, there is a one-shot exploring the childhood of Victor Von Fries in Nazi Germany. It is an interesting piece which does tie in with the main body of the book as it continues the theme about what it takes to change the world.
Batman: The Curse of the White Knight is a dark story filled with twists and turns and unpleasant surprises. It finishes with the introduction of a new character which has made me eager for the next instalment. Recommended.