Book Review: Batman: Curse of the White Knight by Sean Gordon Murphy

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.

Book Review: Injustice: Gods Among Us Year One, Volume 1 by Tom Taylor

Injustice: Gods Among Us Year One, Volume One by Tom Taylor is so epic!!! This graphic novel had issues 1-6 of Injustice: Gods Among Us. Never would I have ever thought this graphic Novel based on the video game Injustice: Gods Among Us would be so good. Tom Taylor has a lot of fun playing with the DC Universe. Injustice is set in an alternative world so all bets are off on who lives and dies in the DC Comics Universe. Batman and Superman becoming enemies. Superman thinks he’s saving the world while Batman thinks he’s putting more fear into it. Superman creates Batman’s dream but also his nightmare; A world at peaceful fear.

The Plot: The Joker is tired of losing to Batman all the time, so he sets his sights on Superman. He plays a joke using Kryptonite and the Scarecrow fear toxin that trick Superman into thinking that Doomsday has returned. He grabs what he thinks is Doomsday and shoots him off to space, but it wasn’t Doomsday it was someone that can not survive in space. This death changes everything and drives Superman mad. The Joker tells Batman looks at what the death of two of your loved ones made you, what will it make him. Superman wants to stop all villains that kill, and turns the world into a super hero controlled police state. Batman is apposed to this because it robs the villains of choice and redemption.

What I Liked: The deaths all matter there is four in this story and they are all important. I love the Joker and Harley in this series the comic relief is in full display. The way Superman defeats the Green Lantern by taking his power ring was brilliant. The Flash gets a really powerful arc about not being fast enough to runaway from your problems. Green Arrow and Harley discussing the Arrow Cave saying that lacks no sense it should be called the quiver and him agreeing. Batman and Superman’s semantics talk about justification is really good. I liked Superman going to Catwoman when he can’t talk to Bruce. The Arkham asylum fight was so good. I like the resistance heroes at the end that Batman has assembled. Thanks to the Arrowverse on the CW for me knowing who The Atom and Black Lightning are and their powers.

What I Disliked: Wonder Woman’s quick rise to action after an Atlantian fired at her when he thought she would make an attack on Aquaman. Harvey’s mustache joke got a little stale the second time.

Recommendation: I really enjoyed this book can’t wait to read more, there’s a flash forward to 5 years later, that looks crazy, and the graphic novel series goes to year 5, so yeah I’m going to keep reading this series. This graphic novel has some scenes as a comic book fan, that I have been dying to see. I rated Injustice: Gods Among Us Year One, Volume One 5 out 5 stars.

Book Review: Batman: The Widening Gyre by Kevin Smith and Walter Flanagan

Batman: The Widening Gyre by Kevin Smith and art by Walter Flanagan Is the sequel to Batman: Cacophony, which I really enjoyed and rated 5 stars Batman: Cacophony review This story asks the question of what does it take for Batman to trust in both love and in partnership. In this graphic novel both relationships will be tested. This book features Batman, Nightwing, Robin (Tim Drake), Superman, Aquaman Catwoman, Joker, Poison Ivy, The Demon, Killer Croc, Deadshot, Mr. Freeze, Two-Face and a plethora of D list villains from the history of Batman’s Rouges. Baron Blitzkrieg anyone? though he is one over the cooler ones for the new era. This book does have Kevin Smith patented humor which is not all dick and fart jokes, this one is a little bit more mature than Cacophony and thankfully no rape jokes. There’s a lot of great moments Catwoman’s reaction to aging and getting called a cougar. Robin’s callback joke to being a man. Batman not trusting when a person or situation is too perfect, Alfred finding out about Bruce Wayne’s sex life and Aquaman rushing to the surface because dolphins reported a woman screaming in the ocean, which was a result of sex.

The Plot: Bruce Wayne meets a woman from his past that seems to perfect, but in his world as Batman too perfect leads to bad, can he let his guard down to find something real. As Batman he meets a new vigilante calling himself Baphomet that helps him time and again, but can he trust this new vigilante, or not. We go through Batman’s troubled past with trust issues and when he finally started trusting Robin and his trust issues with Superman. This comic will end in one of the most shocking twist I have ever read in a Batman comic.

What I Liked: The humor and observation that only Kevin Smith could bring to the world of Batman. The brutality and carnage of these villains, especially Mr. Freeze, we see people frozen but also death by shards of ice. Bruce Wayne happy and letting his guard down for a second. The personal tour of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude on a date. Baphomet and his secret origin. The hilarious Batman and Aquaman scene. The theme of trust throughout. The Demon as a villain is terrifying and I liked that he brought him from him Green Arrow run. When on the tour of the Fortress of Solitude there’s a Dinosaur, and batman has a line about he had one before they were cool to have at your hide out. It is double the size of Batman Cacophony.

What I Disliked: Every female character is sex crazed. There’s too many religious minded crimes, it’s Batman and I want to escape reality. The romance moves too fas, in regards to feelings. The story arc takes too long too develop. The Book ends at a cliffhanger and says to be continued except so far Kevin Smith has not continued it’s been 9 years!

Recommendations: I will recommend Batman fans check this comic out for the questions and conversations that are asked and answered. If you’re a fan of Batman: Cacophony then you have to check the sequel! I rated this book 4 out of 5 stars, while I liked the first one better this is a worthwhile read, and I will continue to read any works Kevin Smith.

Book Review: Batman: Cacophony By Kevin Smith and Walter Flanagan

Batman: Cacophony by Kevin Smith features issues 1-3 and an alternative script for the third issue, it is a truly great comic with a lot of great conversations. Kevin smith known for writing and directing movies such as Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Red State, and Tusk, has a way with dialogue, and adds it to comics as well. I was a big fan of his Green Arrow run, where he ended up creating one of the villains Onomatopoeia which is featured in this work as well. This graphic novel is sadistic but it leads to great questions and conversations.

The Plot: The Joker is locked away in Arkham Asylum where we see someone break in determined to kill him. That man is an assassin known as Deadshot, The Joker casually ask why he’s deemed to die. The Joker finds out that one of his poisons is being changed to a party drug called “chuckles” due to the fact it makes you laugh. The Joker is livid that one of his poison’s doesn’t do what it is supposed to do kill. Deadshot is there for that matter that the parent of one the drug users wants the Joker dead for the reason his son died by result of an overdose to the drug “chuckles”. Just before Deadshot has killed Joker, he is saved by another villain Onomatopoeia, a villain that repeats the sounds heard and killed Vertigo a costumed hero that used to run with Green Arrow. Onomatopoeia has a plan that involves the Joker and taking down Batman.

What I Liked: The conversations, there’s a really great one with Jim Gordon and Batman on wether to let the Joker die or not, and another with Batman and the Joker on if the other truly wants each other to die. There’s a great moment when the Joker realizes a joke after Deadshot is taken down by a head shot, and can not contain himself. I liked Batman using some of Deadshot’s technology. Onomatopoeia as a villain is terrifying, and I loved the reveal at the end for his character. Since Kevin Smith is known for his dick and fart jokes I was not surprised by this, for the most part they landed, on exchange with the Joker seeing Batman Junk when he changed was funny especially Alfred’s comment on it.  The alternative script was cool, most graphic novels only do a panel or two it was nice seeing the entire script and where it changed in the actual published version.

What I Disliked: There’s a rape joke that kind failed, featuring the Joker and Onomatopoeia where Joker misinterprets their relationship thinking he wants to rape him which the Joker seems all to willing to comply, which seemed a bit too much.

Recommendations: I really enjoyed myself it was funny, action packed and well drawn. I really recommend this one but there is the trigger warning of extreme violence and rape discussed, that not everyone will enjoy. I rated this short graphic novel 5 out of 5 stars. I bought this one and the sequel The Widening Gyre at the same time and will read it soon since I enjoyed this one so much.

Book Review: Batman: White Knight by Sean Murphy with Matt Hollingsworth

Batman: White Knight by Sean Gordon Murphy is a batman tale that ask the what if scenario what if the Joker went sane and became the former gangster lackey Jack Napier once again. Napier is out to save the city from the true villain of Gotham, Batman. This story drives deep into the psychological relationship of the Joker and Batman and the way their relationship is intertwined. It also highlights Joker’s relationship with Harley Quinn, and what she does for him is hold him back from what he’s really capable of. Artistically you will see all version of the bat-mobile from television, I personally liked seeing the 1960 bat-mobile in action.This comic series is packed with some really great moments and one off puns, I liked Bullock insulting the Penguin by calling him happy feet.

The Plot: Batman chases the Joker to a pill factory, in his chase Batman causes a lot of damage and almost injures an innocent bystander that Nightwing saves, as Batman risk everything to track down the Joker. Once caught the Joker threatens Batman that they need each other and that if he goes sane that it would destroy Batman. Joker has a set of pills that were designed to do just that, Batman challenges his threat by forcing the pills down Joker’s throat. The pills seems to work turning the Joker back into Jack Napier, the man he was before he turned into before he took a chemical bath. Napier has all the Joker’s intelligence and focus without the Joker’s craziness. His target is exposing Batman for the true villain that he is to Gotham. The Joker charges Batman with assault saying the police just let him get abused, and he target’s all of Batman’s collateral damage to property, and that there is a 3 million dollar fund to clean up all the damage. The joker proposes Batman should stop being a vigilantly and give all of his resources to the police. Napier’s plan divides Batgirl and Nightwing against Batman who they see going off the rails as Alfred is sick and Batman needs him as his moral compass. Harley Quinn who doesn’t like what her Joker has become turns herself into Neo Joker and will not stop till her Joker is back. How will this story end? Is Joker the White Knight of Gotham that can truly save the city?

What I Liked: Really good character work on Batman, the Joker, and Harley Quinn. There’s two Harley Quinn the original and the replacement, it works with one wanting the Joker sane and the other as his insane old self. I like that Harley is added to the whole Jason Todd Robin story, since she wasn’t created when the original story took place, I like what role she played in it. The line Batman gives to the original Harley Quinn about, “you held him back from the real danger that you know he’s capable of.” All iterations of the Bat-mobile are represented. The story and concept are great, I would’ve enjoyed a longer version of the story, I feel this concept could’ve been expanded on.

What I Disliked: When Joker reverts back Jack Napier it changes back to original skin color, I think this should have been done with make up, to mirror Batman who is always Batman but puts on the Bruce Wayne persona, to say that Jack Napier is always the Joker. I didn’t like the Jack Napier running for councilman, I thought it was too rushed.

Recommendations: I will totally recommend this Graphic Novel as a great what if story, that really expanded the Joker/Batman relationship. The final twist reveal reminded me of the excellent The Long Halloween storyline. I just read the excellent No Man’s Land that expands on Batman and James Gordon’s relationship as a good contrast to this Graphic Novel. I rated this 4 out of 5 stars.