Batman: Curse of the White Knight #5 – Sean Murphy, Writer; Matt Hollingsworth, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Ray: It was hard to see how Batman: Curse of the White Knight #5 could keep upping the stakes after the events of the last two issues, but Sean Murphy’s twisted Gotham dystopia succeeds. Last issue saw Batgirl’s attempt to get revenge for the murder of her father end with her taking a knee to the spine by Azrael.
She briefly shows up in a wheelchair at his funeral, but it’s not clear if it’s permanent yet. Her injury has driven a bigger wedge between Batman and the GCPD, particularly Harvey Bullock, as Azrael’s war against the city continues. This leads Batman to work more with Harley, who he hopes can get Jack Napier to break through Joker’s dominant personality and give away the truth of Azrael’s purpose. I’m still not 100% sure about Murphy’s take on Joker, who seems to have more in common with Two-Face than anything, but the jailhouse scenes between Harley and Joker/Jack have some great tension to them that remind me of the best serial killer procedurals.
Batman: Curse of the White Knight seems to have some big ideas on its mind, similar to past Bat-stories “Gates of Gotham” and “Sins of the Father.” It explores the concept that Bruce Wayne’s fortune may have been built on terrible sins – instead of the medical science works of Thomas Wayne.
That makes Azrael’s quest to avenge his ancestor a lot more understandable, but this book has made clear from the start that he’s unhinged. An appearance from Bane doesn’t do much to add to the story – he gets jobbed out for the second time this fall – but Azrael’s evolution from unhinged vigilante to massive threat against both the heroes and villains of Gotham.
One of this title’s best feats is the way it takes things from the 1990s and revamps them to fit perfectly in Murphy’s unique style. The new design for Azrael’s villainous identity is one of the best art pieces of the run, and the second half of this series is looking to easily outstrip the first in intensity.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.