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Barbara's Worst Knight. DC's Black Label "Batman: Curse Of The White Knight Book Four"

"Batman: Curse of the White Knight #4" Cover 1 by Sean Murphy

Writing and Art: Sean Murphy, Colours: Matt Hollingsworth, Letters: AndWorld Design.

NOTE: DC Black Label stories take place outside of normal DC Universe continuity and are intended for mature readers.

After last issue's shocking ending, I wasn't really sure how Murphy was going to start this issue. Turns out, his plan was to reach deep into my chest, pull out my still -beating heart and stamp on it a couple of times, just to make sure the job was done.

Not a dry eye in the house.

So, emotional intro aside, we've now reached the halfway point of Curse of the White Knight. Sean Murphy decided to mark the occasion with a slower, more emotional issue. Not just dealing with the fallout from Gordon's death, but also bringing up some more background on the clearly long and tumultuous history between the Waynes, the Bakkars, and the Arkhams. All families integral to the creation, and continuation, of Gotham City.

And that really forms the running theme of this issue. The idea of "Family" both those you are born into, and the ones that you choose.

Throughout the issue Barbara rampages, Batman digs into his past, Montoya rages, Dick tries to calm everyone down and Bullock stays a little TOO calm... it's almost, almost, like Murphy is using the different characters, and their reactions, to illustrate the varying stages of grief, and how different people react to loss. And he does this without making any of them seem more or less valid. It's a tough tightrope to walk, but he manages it with incredible skill and a very deft touch.

Then, cars smash into each other, guns are fired and basically all hell breaks loose in the final panels. Because while we all love a deep, emotional character driven issue, we also really love a good fight!

And this is one hell of a fight. As Barbara, Bullock and The Bat clash with team Azrael and Batman's distaste for guns, and hesitation in battle, may have made Barbara's already terrible day, so much worse.

Overall, Curse of the White Knight continues to be one of the best books currently in print. Sean Murphy is doing a fantastic job bringing us a more mature, grounded version of The Batman mythos, where actions have real consequences, and sometimes even the best of intentions can have the worst possible outcomes.

And we're only halfway through the story. There's plenty more pain to come.

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