Batman: Curse of the White Knight by Sean Gordon Murphy is a hard look at what it takes to be a hero, and Batman himself asking if he helped contribute to crime. This is the sequel to the excellent Batman: White Knight where the Joker went sane and went after Batman as if he were the victim. The Joker is back to being the joker, but the things he called out were too good and could ruin crime sprees. The Joker has one more joke to pull the could blow up the Wayne legacy. The Curse of the White Knight continue its streak of being one of the best Batman stories. The story had a lot of twist and turns as it explores the birth of the Wayne dynasty and a current threat with an old score to settle. The writing will make you both laugh and almost cry. This story does take place in an alternative universe and not in the current DCU that gives the novel no limits as it is no-holds bar, with lots of shocking deaths. Batman: Curse of the White Knight collects issue 1-8 and a bonus Mr. Freeze origin story.
Plot: When the Joker took a pill to go sane he turned back into Jack Napier former mob member. Jack saw evil in Gotham and his name was Batman. Jack becomes a council member a and sets up the Napier Initiative which would have Batman be responsible for every damage he causes, and he would give tech and his vehicles to the police so they will eventually not need Batman. Batman has to look at the harsh truth that Napier is right. The pills are slowly killing Napier the only way he can live is if he lets the Joker take back over. With the Joker back in control he hates the Napier Initiative because it will mean no more Batman. The joker has been saving a Joke that will destroy everything and tarnish the Wayne legacy (Joker/Napier admitted they have know for some time he is Bruce Wayne). The Joker gets Azrael who is in on the joke having to do with his family legacy. Azrael will stop at nothing to kill or hurt those around him. Bruce has to search his families history to solve the mystery of the joke. Harley is able to bring Napier back for a few seconds as she reveals she is pregnant, he tells her the Joke will break Batman and the Wayne family.
What I Liked: The balance of drama, action and humor is great. The Action is really well done. The Joke is pretty world shattering for Batman and the Wayne legacy. Azrael who I haven’t seen in comics for quite sometime (since Knightfall and Knightquest arcs) returns with a vengeance. He ends up wearing the Knightquest Batman suit for when he took over as Batman. There’s a scene where Batman’s cave gets destroyed with all his Batmobiles except the Batmobile from the late 80’s one of my personal favorites. The Jokes, there’s a scene where Montoya and Bullock are taking over for an incapacitated Gordon, and Batman does his disappearing while speaking, and Bullock goes does he do that everytime, that must drive Gordon crazy. Another joke is Azrael breaks Joker out of Prison in the Batsuit from Knightquest, Joker says, “how did you get in here?” Azrael reveals the batsuit, “I’m Batman!” The Joker seems aghast, “that worked, they just let you in…”, he looks past Azrael to see a stream of bloody bodies. The pacing in this book i really good the set up for Joke takes a while as we flashback to the past, but the pay off was well worth it. I liked the subplot about the Joker wanting to kill one of Harley’s twins because one half is his and one half is Napier’s. The art is really well done, I’m very particular about faces but feel they were drawn really well.
What I Disliked: There’s a joke that was a callback to 1960’s Batman that landed horribly, and felt really awkward and forced. The Batman not killing plot line I felt let down. This series has analyzed aspect of Batman that I have not thought of before, and I felt the Batman doesn’t kill was glossed over. You as Batman do not want to kill the Joker, but you want to kill Azrael, who has a general grievance with you over past family stuff. I would have wanted more conversation for Bruce to have gotten there, to make it more believable.
Recommendation: This story is good, and one of the best that I have read. Sean Gordon Murphy is one of the better Batman writer’s I still think that Scott Snyder is the best but Sean Gordon Murphy is getting close. The cool thing about Sean Gordon Murphy is he is also the artist and makes sure what he wrote in the story matches his vision on the comic. If you are looking at a great Batman story that explores the psyche of Batman then this is you Batman story. I rated Batman: Curse of the White Knight by Sean Gordon Murphy 5 out of 5 stars. I also rated Batman: White Knight 5 out of 5 stars do yourself a favor and read these books. It is separate from the DC comics universe so it is pretty accessible.