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If Batman: White Knight shocked you with its unique take on the characters and world of Gotham, you might need to sit down when you read Batman: Curse of the White Knight #2. Sean Murphy is laying the smackdown on layered storytelling, gripping moments, and hard to put down comic book action.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The Joker’s plan is in full swing—with a single devastating secret and his puppet strings controlling the elites, the Clown Prince and his new recruit, Azrael, are ready to eliminate Batman and obliterate the Wayne family’s legacy. With Gotham City’s identity and institutions hanging in the balance, Gordon makes a surprising public announcement—but The Joker’s response will send the Bat-family and the GTO spiraling.
Why does this matter?
At only about 20 pages of comic book storytelling, this book packs a major punch in the content department. Flashbacks further developing the past timeline storyline, action scenes, major plot twists involving Joker…there is a lot here.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The first seven pages of this issue are devoted to Bruce Wayne’s ancestor and the first Wayne to arrive at Gotham. In these pages, we learn how he became a fighter, who trained him, and further explanation of the centuries-old order that Azrael is part of. One of the joys in reading this issue is how Murphy slips in seemingly minor details that matter to the bigger picture. He’s dropping clues to help hint at where the story is going and how the past and present line up. There is a strong mystery at work here involving Azrael and Bruce’s ancestry with Joker serving as a wild card to speed up the process. By the end of the issue, everything has been flipped, Batman is back on the run, and Joker is Batman’s only hope. It might remind you of the first series, but as a sequel, it’s nice to see it mirroring the original.
Speaking of mirroring the original, you’ll enjoy the new take on character relationships. Gordon, for instance, knows Bruce is Batman, which is a major element Bruce is dealing with while a woman blackmails him. There are complexities to each relationship, like Barbara being outted as Batgirl, that throw a wrench into things and make the narrative feel fresh and new. That’s truly astounding considering the 70 plus years of Batman stories that have been told so far.
The art by Murphy, with colors by Matt Hollingsworth, are out-of-this-world good. The opening sequence in the past is perfectly paced with exciting action that would be translated to film easily. The kinetic energy is quite sharp and that goes double for an action sequence later in the issue that has Batman narrowly avoiding death. It’s safe to say Murphy excels at drawing vehicles from the English ship Bruce’s ancestor rides in on to the military-style truck Azrael and his men use late in the issue.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
The only thing that caught me off guard was Batgirl bawling her eyes out in Batman’s arms. She’s been in a fight with her dad, but it seems odd this incredible hero would be reduced to tears because her dad is angry.
Is it good?
A sharply written Batman mystery that expertly weaves in flashbacks and great action. The action is epic in scale and its mysteries are delivered with breathless enthusiasm. Don’t miss it.
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