REVIEW: BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT #1 Author: Ryan Lower (Follow @LOWER_RYAN)
Date: October 5, 2017
SYNOPSIS: He’s been called a maniac, a killer and the “Clown Prince of Crime” but “White Knight”? Never. Until now…
Set in a world where The Joker is cured of his insanity and homicidal tendencies, The Joker, now known as “Jack,” sets about trying to right his wrongs. First he plans to reconcile with Harley Quinn, and then he’ll try to save the city from the one person who he thinks is truly Gotham City’s greatest villain: Batman!
Superstar writer and artist Sean Murphy presents a seven-issue miniseries of a twisted Gotham City with a massive cast of heroes and villains that, at its heart, is a tragic story of a hero and a villain: Batman and The Joker. But which is the hero-and which the villain?
BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT #1 is the best Batman issue I have read in some time.
That’s a big claim to make but I have no concerns making it. Sean Murphy has crafted an ingenious story with gritty art, rich dialogue and nostalgic moments. A lot of nostalgic moments.
The issue opens with the Batmobile driving up to Arkham Asylum. We’ve seen this before countless times, but what we haven’t seen is that The Joker, er Jack Napier, is behind the wheel and he’s visiting the incarcerated Batman. THAT’S how the book starts. We then rewind to a year ago, and a defining moment in the Batman/Joker relationship. The Dark Knight, along with Batgirl and Nightwing, are chasing the Clown Prince of Crime through the streets and rooftops of Gotham. Disaster occur, questionable moments are brought to the forefront, and Batman crosses a line like he’s never crossed before. To make matters worse, it’s caught on a smartphone. As the GCPD scrambles, the Joker studies and Bruce Wayne shows us a reasoning he’s acting out: Alfred is on his deathbed. By the end of the issue, we learn The Joker is taking everyone to court. And he’s not smiling.
Writer and artist Sean Murphy has been teasing us fans about this book for months, giving us sneak peeks of his wonderful panels for the issue. Everything I was seeing I was digging, and yet I was still blown away here. Gotham looks different than it has before, yet upon first glance is simply Gotham. Plenty of buildings, roads and alleys with even more darkness clouding up the skies. It’s not a happy place, and has a gothic touch that reminds me of BATMAN ‘89.
Speaking of B89, this book is LOADED with nods to that cinema classic. Jack Napier, Axis chemicals are the obvious nods, but just take a look at the full page of the Joker in his bedroom and you’ll spot The Joker with his big fun, an image from the chapel fight at the end of the movie, and even the film’s Batmobile. Look around a little more and you’ll see the Tumbler, the 1966 Batmobile, the iconic BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES and more. It’s a feast for the eyes for all Batman fans, and I’d say comic book fans in general.
As for the story itself, I never thought we’d get a story where you sympathize with The Joker and think he has a point. The guy has always loved chaos and sure we’ve loved him, but never completely sided with him. Murphy kicks this story off with a brutal beating that could make anyone question if the Dark Knight is still the hero we’ve always praised him to be. And that’s the point Murphy is making here, and Gotham knows it. Thanks to a leak to the press, his actions are analyzed, questioned and debated. The outcome isn’t in favor of our hero.
Overall, this book is phenomenal. To come out of the gate with something this good only has me stoked for what’s to come. I wasn’t sure what to expect in the buildup for this book. “The Joker is Jack Napier, and is the White Knight? Yeah okay, let’s see what you’ve got Sean Murph.”Well, he called my bluff and I feel like he’s still got a few aces up his sleeve.
Buy this book. - Ryan Lower
A lifelong Batman fan, Ryan Lower grew up in the midwest reading, watching, dreaming of The Dark Knight.
His favorite Batman stories are THE LONG HALLOWEEN, THE DARK KNIGHT and anything from BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES.
He currently resides in his own Batcave in Chicago.
Follow him on Twitter @LOWER_RYAN.