Sean Murphy’s sequel to the highly successful Batman: White Knight gets its fifth issue a week early. It’s a series that involves Azrael, Batman’s ancestor who helped build Gotham, and Harley Quinn, who is now a mother of Joker’s babies. It’s a complicated world made even more difficult with Commissioner Gordon very much not of this world anymore. This fifth issue offers up a lot of answers, a new Batman costume, and a hell of a turn as Azrael’s actions aren’t making his funders very happy.
This issue opens with Gordon’s funeral with a proper amount of page time to make the death feel important. At the same time, Batman doesn’t attend and instead works. It’s a nice way of Sean Murphy to show Batman isn’t the sentimental type even when he’s hurting. Three major events take place here that add up to good action and intrigue. The first is Batman’s work culminating in some clear answers. The second is Harley Quinn’s attempt to connect with Napier–the sane version of Joker–and to help Batman. The third is how Azrael takes the news that he’s not doing a great job. All three add up to great progress in the plot and in the Harley scenes, we get a promise for a new bombshell discovery in the future.
Speaking of bombshells there’s a lot of answers to this issue. Batman uncovers some interesting details about the formation of Gotham–and the immoral choices his ancestor took to rule it all–and we also get new details about Azrael and his team. This is obviously an Elseworlds tale and it’s nice to see the twists on the character. Speaking of Azrael, he has one hell of a battle that will shock you. Murphy utilizes scripture in Azrael’s dialogue to sell his religious leanings and it’s certain he comes out of this book more dangerous than ever.
The art by Murphy with colors by Matt Hollingsworth is fabulous in this issue. There are a lot of heavy dialogue scenes, but the character placement and panel work add to the storytelling very well. While Batman was absent from the funeral you sense his dismay he didn’t attend. The cops around him meanwhile are scrambling to avenge him and it’s telling how calm Batman is in the scenes. Vehicles continue to look great from a red convertible Bruce drives to the prison to an impressive new Batman costume. Extra props to Murphy’s covers on this series. They have a blockbuster movie feel and at times a James Bond vibe that suits Batman so very well.
This is a payoff issue that delivers a lot of answers. Though it may be heavier on dialogue and explanation it feels good to get all the details. There’s also good set up for a bombshell that’ll have you guessing so the mysteries continue to push your interest up. Add in an impressive action scene to end the book and you have yourself a great ramping up of stakes as we get closer to the finish.
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