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When Batman: Curse Of The White Knight was announced in late 2018, fans imagined it following similar themes as Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth’s Batman: White Knight, which was one of the most unique takes of the Batman mythos in recent years. Amazingly, Curse Of The White Knight takes a bolder more mythical approach to the Batman/ Joker relationship that is to be commended.
Spoilers For BATMAN: CURSE OF THE WHITE KNIGHT Below
Batman: Curse Of The White Knight picks up directly after the events of the first series. Alfred is dead, the Joker is in prison (For now), and Batman revealed his identity to Detective Gordon. The Joker unsurprisingly breaks out of Arkham and recruits Azrael to his cause. While The White Knight dealt mainly with themes of rehabilitation, justice, and the consequences of past deeds done by one’s family, Curse Of The White Knight goes to supernatural lengths to differentiate itself.
Murphy’s script does a marvelous job of blending supernatural with reality and blurring the lines differentiating them. When Bruce is reading Alfred’s letter, the letter does seem prophetic and the act of Bruce finding this hidden tome under his father figures bed looks like he is unveiling a religious artifact.
This push and pull between the supernatural are present in one of the series antagonist, Azrael. The way Murphy blurs the lines between whether Azrael is insane or not is particularly effective. He is unhinged, Azrael smashes an orderly’s head against the wall after being diagnosed with cancer, but then the Joker hands him a flaming sword with imagery reminiscent of someone being ordained by higher powers, think Excalibur to King Arthur.
If there is one negative to Murphy’s script, it’s the lack of Joker/ Jack Napier. What made his original series so compelling was how Murphy was able to distance Joker from Jack Napier, making them completely different characters despite how they shared the same body. Despite his escape from Arkham and finding Azrael being the catalyst for the entire chapter, the reader experiences most of this chapter through the perspective of Batman. But this is something that will surely change in future chapters.
Hollingsworth and Murphy continue to prove they are one of the premier artistic team-ups with their respective colors and line work. Individually their talents are self-evident but together they create a brutish, hulking, almost noir vibe that is perfect for a locale such as Gotham. The architecture of Arkham haunts over its inhabitants with crumbling Spartan walls and heavy shadows, similar to the ones that hide the inner workings of Wayne Manor.
The way Murphy depicts brute strength and violence is borderline iconic. Hollingsworth’s colors push it over that edge. Batman lugs around Gotham with huge shoulders and biceps that look almost cartoonish. He towers over everyone he shares a frame with, as does Azrael. Look no further than the scene in which Batman interrogates the Arkham warden. It’s played almost for laughs, but when Batman got serious, I jumped reading it.
Murphy and Hollingsworth’s Batman: White Knight was nothing short of a modern-day Batman classic. Their newest effort Batman: Curse Of The White Knight, with letters from AndWorld Design looks to be following right in its predecessor’s footsteps.