Batman vs. Joker, who ya got?!
Batman: White Knight has been a treat of a series if you can suspend your need for in-canon storytelling. Sean Murphy has crafted a story that digs at the core of what the Joker/Batman relationship is about and thrown in some wicked real-world ideas revolving around how Batman might really function in real-life society. The last issue revealed a doozy of a cliffhanger about the Wayne family as we close in on the finish just two issues away.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Gotham City’s strongest alliance comes to an end when Gordon’s trust in Batman reaches its limit. On the verge of resignation, the commissioner attempts a final act of public service, but an unlikely intervention allows the Dark Knight to fight another day. Meanwhile, Jack’s mission takes a hit when his pills lose effect–and under cover of all this chaos, Neo Joker is positioned to take the city hostage.
Why does this matter?
Sean Murphy is one of the best artists working today and he shows it in each of these issues. A single panel might have the attention to detail another artist would give a full page spread. His ability to dazzle on every page makes this a worthy buy even if you’re not into the story.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Gordon has gone off the deep end!
This issue is positively batty as it ramps up the crazy inside Napier aka Joker and puts Batman in a corner. There’s a key scene that seems to suggest Joker isn’t happy with the results, the result he’s wanted forever, and that is what is most interesting about this story. At its core, it’s about how Joker and Batman need each other and never want the chase to end. As Batman is brought down in this issue, an endeavor taken by the entire Gotham police force, one gets the impression as one domino falls the others need to be put back up.
While most of the story is about capturing Batman there are also other subplots that are developed well. We finally get the whole picture as far as the Wayne family helping a Nazi and the eventual rise of Neo Joker. The story continues to deliver on fan service with a classic Batmobile popping up that’ll have fans of the original films hooting and hollering.
Murphy continues to draw one of the sharpest comic series you’ll ever read. The attention to detail on backgrounds and vehicles is so great it’s practically photorealistic. In a key double page layout, we get a brutal fistfight between Batman and Joker that’s the epitome of what everything before has to lead to. You get the impression these two are not just fighting for their lives, but for their reputations and history. It’s quite a scene.
Note the detail in the Batman top and bottom panels..
It can’t be perfect can it?
This comic can be way too melodramatic. Commissioner Gordon’s desire to take down Batman seems unrealistic even if the previous issues have built up his belief Batman is bad for Gotham. While Nightwing and Batgirl scream at him for forgetting all that he’s done he’s gone into bad-guy mode and it’s rather annoying. Maybe it’s how Murphy draws Gordon, but he’s so hellbent on destroying Batman it’s like he’s possessed.
The fight scene between Batman and Joker is a key scene you’d probably see in a movie but doesn’t do enough to make Joker’s ability to take down Batman believable. Maybe Batman is shaken up from his crash, but still, how does Joker do this? This is a reoccurring issue in the series as it forces a plot point forward even if there’s nothing to back it up. You get the sense that Murphy has plotted it in such a way that maybe there aren’t enough pages to support such twists. This is also true to the ending of the issue which drops a reveal that seems to come out of nowhere. Either it’s a red herring, or he hasn’t been showing us enough of Napier’s slow return to being the Joker.
Is It Good?
A good issue that focuses on what it takes to take down the Bat, even if it’s not done in a way that’s believable. The art is gorgeous and the story seems to be setting up quite a finale.