Batman: Curse of the White Knight #4 – Sean Murphy, Writer/Artist; Matt Hollingsworth, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Ray: In Batman: Curse of the White Knight, his sequel to his big-scale Elseworlds, Sean Murphy is pulling no punches as he dismantles the Dark Knight’s world courtesy of the one-two punch of Joker and Azrael.
When we last left off, Azrael had stabbed Commissioner Gordon fatally, and as Batman: Curse of the White Knight #4 picks up, we get a wordless segment as Gotham’s doctors struggle to save his life but ultimately come up short.
Without any words, Murphy is able to convey the raw grief of Batman, his allies, and particularly Barbara Gordon. The trauma conga she’s gone through in this arc – first having her identity exposed, now losing her father – would be enough to make many heroes snap (see Harper, Roy). So it’s not a surprise that she’s out for revenge and is pushing the remaining members of the Bat-family away. The Bats’ alliance with the GCPD is more tentative than ever, and it’s clear Barbara is ready to disobey orders to get payback for her father.
The wordless scenes in the opening are juxtaposed with a great flashback to Barbara’s childhood, with Gordon teaching her how to fight back against a sexist bully. I could quibble with whether Jim would tell his kid to hit back harder, but it’s easy to see how Jim’s no-nonsense parenting created the more ruthless version of Barbara we see in this issue.
I also really liked Bullock’s role in this issue, as he becomes an unlikely ally within the GCPD as Barbara goes rogue and chases down Azrael. Murphy doesn’t get to show off his favorite car chases until the very end of the issue, but the little bits we see of Azrael and his minions this issue is intense. A strong flashback to Alfred’s role in the Wayne’s big secret, and a tense cliffhanger that leaves another hero’s fate in question adds up to the best issue of the run. It’s no surprise that this series essentially launched Black Label.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.