Batman White Knight #1
Writer & Artist: Sean Murphy
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth
Letterer: Todd Klein
Let’s be honest for a minute. If a lot of the heroes that we read about in comic books existed, many of their actions would be questioned. The idea of masked vigilantes being above the law and going out and being judge (and in some cases jury) would not sit right with most people. Batman would be one of the greatest offenders as he not only stops crimes, but also does his own detective work. On top of that, he is the one that is the most endorsed by the police, as the Commissioner has a light to call out to him when help is needed.
Batman White Knight #1 begins to explore that world where Batman is not always allowed to run free in the name of fighting crime. We start with Mr. Napier arriving in Arkham Asylum to visit the imprisoned Batman. As Mr. Napier is asking for help, we are taken back to one year ago. Batman is chasing The Joker through the streets as one has come to expect. But this time Batman seems more focused and less willing to ask for help. Batgirl and Nightwing are concerned, as he has little regard for the people or the property around him. Once Batman does catch up with the Joker, things go from bad to worse. People become concerned that Batman may have stepped over the line.
Murphy creates an interesting idea here and performs it nearly flawlessly. You can feel the concern and the fear rising in Batgirl’s voice as she tries to get Batman to stop. Meanwhile Batman and Nightwing’s relationship seems to be much icier than that in the main DC line. People around Batman are talking around him to each other. It works in that the friends see this self-destructive path that he is on, and they are trying to create a plan to stop it. Or in some cases, start to distance themselves from it. While that is going on, Murphy does an admiral job of exploring the relationship between Batman and the Joker. It is a relationship that is not healthy, and it is one that clearly bothers the Joker.
We get a little bit of a change in the background of The Joker and how he came to Gotham City. It is a change that makes The Joker a much more understood character. Murphy also works in many nods to today’s culture: in a world of social media and talking heads, opinions matter. As not just writer but also artist for Batman White Knight #1, Murphy creates a world that is dark and gritty–like any classic Batman story. The scene where Batman fights the Joker is brutal. It is one of the most violent set of panels you might see in a DC comic this year. Blood splatters and drips off Batman’s hands and it creates a haunting visual. And, the icy steel eyes of Jim Gordon present a character who, in many ways, has disconnected himself from the situation. All the characters have a stony, hardened look to them that definitely fits the feel of the story.
Verdict: Buy it!
Batman White Knight #1 does an excellent job of setting up a premise where you do begin to question Batman’s method. By the end of the book, you feel for the Joker and wonder if he is right in what he is saying. The art is dark, gritty, and bloody, and it works perfectly for the story. I cannot wait to see where it goes next!