Liquorice. Marmite. Sean Murphy’s Batman: White Knight.
A short list, of divisive “Love em, or hate em” items, that I happen to absolutely love.
I picked up Murphy’s White Knight on a whim, back when it first came out in 2017. I’m not really a huge Batman fan, but something about the concept really appealed to me. It took all of three pages to sink its claws into me, and those claws only dug in deeper with every passing issue. Between the complex, detail-rich writing, balanced out with the scratchy, almost Quentin Blake-esque art, I was in LOVE.
But all good things must come to an end. And after 8 spectacular issues, White Knight reached its satisfying conclusion.
I was bereft.
But every dark cloud has a silver lining.
Because Sean Murphy was not done. Oh no, not at all. In fact, he was only just getting started.
And so, today, I hold in my hands issue number one... of Batman: Curse of the White Knight!
Sean Murphy is back, Batfans! And this time, in addition to his unique takes on Batman, Joker and the rest of Gotham’s rogues gallery, he taking on something new.
A character who is sometimes the hero, sometimes the villain... but always BATSHIT CRAZY.
Jean-Paul Valley. Also know as AZRAEL.
And let me tell you, his version of this classic character, is going to be one for the ages.
While White Knight's collected edition was released under DC's non-continuity, mature-themed Black Label imprint, its single issues were still released on the classic DC label... but Curse of the White Knight is Black Label from day one! This is really showing already, in the increased brutality of the fight scenes, and Murphy's readiness to spray some blood. While White Knight never exactly pulled its punches, there were clear signs of restraint in the art. A restraint which seems notable by its absence, in this first issue.
Issue one really hits the ground running, and is already loaded with action, intrigue, and horrible things being done with pens (a probable reference to another fantastic Joker). We also get to meet Batman’s super awesome, and likely pivotal to the plot, ancestor; Edmund Wayne, Gotham’s very first Wayne!
Without going into too much detail, I’ll say this: This is not a book for first time fans. If you’re looking for a jumping on point. Jump back. From the very first page, and throughout, the issue is loaded with references and callbacks to White Knight, and I cannot see it getting any lighter. If you’re looking for a place to start your adventure in the MurphyVerse, go check out the first part of his saga.
But if you’re all caught up? If, like me, you’ve been anxiously awaiting the next piece of this puzzle... then jump right in, friends. The water is warm and Azrael is waiting for you!
Overall, this was one of the strongest opening issues I’ve read in a very long time. The writing and artwork are both amazing, as expected, and Sean effortlessly takes elements from his first book, brings them forward, and works them into the framework of this new tale. So, even though this is the first issue of a whole new story, it hits the ground at brutal speed, and refuses the let up until the final page is read. If he can keep this level up throughout, I have no doubt this book will equal, if not exceed its predecessor.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to find out!