Batman: White Knight #6 – Sean Murphy, Writer/Artist; Matt Hollingsworth, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Batman’s Fall
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: The final act of Sean Murphy’s solo epic begins in Batman: White Knight #6, as Joker’s control over Gotham grows and Batman’s behavior becomes increasingly unstable. Following the destruction of the Gotham bridge last issue, Gordon has been forced to admit that his former friend is a menace and give the GCPD the order to take him into custody. Although Batgirl is enraged that the police have turned on Batman, Nightwing has seen his mentor unravel for years and agree to help – although he’s maintaining the condition that Batman not be unmasked, even by the police. With the help of Duke Thomas and the former Joker, the GCPD set up an elaborate sting to trap Batman, and that’s where Murphy’s at his best. Murphy’s drawn quite a few comics that involved car chases, and he’s never more at home than when he’s drawing epic road action. The battle of Batmobiles that drives this issue may be the series’ best moment.
That leads to a confrontation between Batman and Jack Napier, the bloodiest of the series so far. I’m still not entirely sure how the Joker – sane or not – can beat Batman in a fistfight, even an aged and somewhat unstable Batman. Joker’s always sort of been a paper tiger when it comes to fights with Batman, but it’s a different take on the rivalry and mutual hatred between the two nemeses that we haven’t seen yet, so points to Murphy. With Batman captured and taken to Arkham – over Gordon’s wishes – a new crisis is brewing, as the former Harley Quinn, now called Neo Joker, launches an attack on the city. Using a massive freeze gun created by Victor Fries and the technology of the Mad Hatter, she essentially holds Gotham hostage and forces Jack Napier – on the cusp of his biggest political victory yet – into making the one decision he swore he never would. The title’s been flagging a bit in the middle, but this last act feels like it’ll be as strong as the kickoff.
Corrina: I have zero problems with the quality inherent in this series. Murphy’s story is well told, complicated and layered, and his art, as seen in the intense chase sequence that captures Batman this issue, is incredible. The next time someone asks how to draw a car chase in comics, especially in Gotham, I will point to this issue. I cannot imagine it being done better.
No, my objection has always been the concept of the Joker going sane while the Batman goes insane. But I’m the odd one who rather sees Two-Face as Batman’s opposite rather than the Joker and I also have no fascination for the Joker himself. So I’m not interested in his journey to sanity, though the relationship between him and Harley is well-drawn in this issue. (And it’s the only version of Harley and Jack that might even work.) Compounding the problem of my enjoyment of the series how little insight we get into Batman himself. I like the glimpses of Barbara’s idealism, Gordon’s dedication to the law that makes him turn on Batman, and Nightwing’s trying to find the middle way, and I thought the scene with Mr. Freeze was poignant and sad.
But we have seen so little of Bruce Wayne that he’s more a cipher than the Joker.
The ending of the miniseries may eventually change my mind. It was inevitable the way this story was going that Batman would end up disgraced and in custody. It’s also inevitable, I believe, that he’ll be needed again at the end. Perhaps the best ending for this version of Gotham would be to end the threat of the Joker and Batman and forge another way to keep the people of Gotham safe.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.