Script and Art by Sean 'King of the World' Murphy.
Colour (cover and interior) by Matt Hollingsworth.
Letters by AndWorld Designs.
DC's Black Label titles feature stories taking place outside of normal DC continuity and are intended for mature readers.
Words cannot describe how much I loved this book. Which is vaguely worrying, as I now need to find some way to write a review for it.
To say that Batman: Curse of the White Knight Book 7 is a pivotal chapter in the MurphyVerse Batman mythology is to undersell the events of these 30 pages. I believe this could well be the most important chapter he’s released yet.
Not content with killing off Alfred before it was cool, Murphy then decided to kill off a huge swath of Gotham’s worst villains. Then, because apparently he’s developed a taste for murder, he killed off Commissioner Gordon. Last, but by NO means least, he killed off Batman’s Legacy. Revealing, to the shock and horror of all involved, that not only was Bruce not actually a Wayne, but his whole family, going back to the very founding of Gotham, weren’t either. They were actually the descendants of Mad Warrior Monk, Bakkar. Just to twist the Bat-a-rang a little more, it was revealed that there was indeed a living descendant of the Wayne Legacy: murder obsessive, and fan of billowing red capes, Azrael.
So the question then becomes: What the hell does Bruce do now?
What can he do? His very life lies in ruins, shattered all around him, seemingly beyond repair. How does one come back, when everything and everyone you’ve ever known is either dead, or a lie?
And that’s the question Sean seeks to answer, with this book.
After the raging action, explosions, and fights of the last few issues, Book 7 dials it right back. Like all the best penultimate issues, this month we get a huge amount of character development, some amazing scenes between Batman and his nearest & dearest (I’m sorry, but no one will ever sink the BatmanXHarley ship now!) and finally, the stage is set for what promises to be the most epic showdown since Thor versus Gorr, at the end of The God Bomb.
Along the way, decisions will be made that will change the way Gotham, and the world, sees Batman forever.
Overall, issues like this are why Murphy’s White Knight is my favourite DC series of all time, and is rapidly climbing the list of favourite all time comics.
His art style continues to be the perfect blend of modern techniques, and old school realism. With a vague scratchiness and steampunk style that nods to the classics, while making a thematic style for the city of Gotham and its inhabitants that is all his own.
Honestly, in the hands of a less skilled writer, this issue so easily could have come across as gratuitous sensationalism. It so easily could have felt like cheap shock tactics, designed to get people tweeting about how much they love and/or hate this book, and how it’s single handedly ruining/saving Batman, as a character.
But we don’t have a less skilled writer. We have Sean Murphy. Who has been weaving this tale with such subtlety and nuance since day one, that any craziness he unleashes now feels natural. It feels earned. Which is exactly how it should be.
By the time you finish the last page you will feel many things. Unsettling things.
But there are two things we’re all feeling.
A giddy excitement: That the final showdown is coming, and we get to see how this all ends.
A crushing sadness: That the final showdown is coming, and after that, it all ends.
So, until that wonderful, but sad day...