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‘Batman: Curse of the White Knight #2’ (review)

Written and Illustrated by Sean Murphy
Published by DC Comics/Black Label

 

It’s interesting how Sean Murphy links the Wayne family’s ancient ancestor to their modem day descendant. The 16th century’s Edmond Wayne doesn’t believe in murder. The same self-imposed code of conduct is ingrained in the DNA of Edmond’s contemporary descendant, Bruce Wayne. Even Gotham City, formally Gotham Valley, has always been a law-breaking haven for villains.

Now, enter Azrael, who’s own family legacy is deeply tied to Gotham and the result is a power struggle centuries in the making.

Murphy explores the idea of whether this is destiny or an endless cycle of violence. One of more profound while the other requires a cataclysmic shift for change to occur. Bruce wants a fresh start for Gotham and decides to tell the world he’s Batman.

While superheroes wear a mask to protect the ones they love, for Bruce, it’s the least of his worries. Being a billionaire leader of industry would entail an enormous amount of collateral damage.

The later aspect of Batman revealing his identity something I’ve never thought of before. Being Batman is essentially a trap or a curse depending on how you look at it. Murphy injects this into the narrative in exquisite fashion because it’s something Bruce never thought of, either, which is unbelievable as it is fascinating.

Existential crisis notwithstanding, John Paul Valley, is pretty much the physical manifestation of the wrath of God. I’m talking old testament fury that comes for Batman. The script does an excellent job conveying peril here; however, it is the artwork that captured the utter danger at every single turn. One minute, Batman is dodging bullets from his own Batmobile, the next minute, he’s avoiding doom from the Batwing. Murphy not giving Batman a second to breathe and collect his thoughts exudes tension; adding to the overall experience.

If that wasn’t enough, we’re reminded that it is The Joker who is pulling the strings. He turned Gordon’s life upside-down in a manner that was appley timed. The fallout causes levels of tailspin for the entire Bat-family. It’s the levels aspect that is most intriguing because it involved people looking inside of themselves and wonder if they are on the right side of the fight, or if they should even be in the battle at all.

A lot is going on here. Sean Murphy was relentless in how much he piled on for the reader to unpack. In addition to the volume of information, everything is executed in a poignant manner that makes it all matter. The risks, rewards, stakes, and danger conceptualize what The Joker is set out to accomplish. The last issue set up everything quite nicely. This chapter doesn’t make you wait any longer and goes all-in on Murphy’s compelling tale.

Rating: A-

 

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