Review: Batman: Curse of the White Knight #1

Coming soon- Curse of the White Knight #2

Batman: Curse of the White Knight was written and drawn by Sean Murphy. The colours are by Matt Hollingsworth, with letters by AndWorld Design. 

What do you need to know?

This is the first issue in a mini-series which presumably follows on from Batman: White Knight, a nine-issue mini-series from last year. It’s part of DC’s Black Label which means that it is essentially its own universe, and not a part of continuity. If you remember the Elseworlds books, then this is the same thing. 

What do you need to have read?

Please read Batman: White Knight, because it is super. It’s only nine issues, and it’s published in a trade paperback so you can get it all right now at Forbidden Planet (affiliate link) and all the othe usual places. There will be spoilers for White Knight in these reviews, so if you’re trying to avoid them then you have be warned.

Cover #1 shows Batman in a couched position. His cape spends out behind him and in his cape we can see The Joker, the Gotham skyline, and a mysterious red mask.

Before we get into the contents of the book, I just want to point out that it’s really nice quality. You won’t be able to tell from the images, but it has really stiff covers with spot gloss on it. Why should you care? Because it makes Curse of the White Knight feel special, it shows that DC is excited about it, and willing to splurge a little. It also really differentiates Black Label and makes each series a real event. 

Three panels showing the character of Laffy Arkham falling down a large hole laughing all the way

Initially this seems really different from White Knight as it begins in a historical setting, 1685, though both series’ beginning in the middle of a chase/action sequence. The setting can be a little disorientating for the reader, because it’s so unexpected, and it doesn’t feel like a sequel at all, though I’m sure that will change as the narrative progresses. The inclusion of this elemnt of the story not only sets up this particualr narrative bit it also gives this universe a history, and therefore adds depth to it. It’s pretty obvious that these characters are the ancestors of our main cast, but I wanted to pick out one in particular. Laffy is the 1685 version of the Joker, and I think the name is great. At first, I was surprised that there wasn’t a jester reference, as a jester would presumably be the ancestor to the joker character, but this is explained later on. I’m not sure I would go so far as to call it a plot twist, but it is one hell of a plot reveal. This historical section works as a prologue before the title page, which gives it a cinematic feel, and potentially a cinematic scope. 

Given the plot of White Knight was that the Joker was ‘cured’ and became Jack Napier, this is the first long exposure we get to this universe’s Joker. I really like his use of language, referencing punch lines and shows, which gives my The Killing Joke vibes (though I understand it’s quite a typical Joker characteristic it does remind me of that famous final panel). I think that the disappearing pen trick really sums up his character: he’s ruthless, he’s got a twisted sense of humour and he’s dangerous. This comic is not for the faint of heart because it did have me squirming. 

The book is really split between Batman’s POV and the Joker’s POV which is interesting as it lessens the need for Batman to be a detective, and frames the Joker as a main character, rather than just a villain. It also encourages the reader to examine them as two sides of the same coin, which is something that I think will pay off later down the line. Bruce dwells on what went down between himself and Napier, which shows that the man really got to him. As a result I’m really interested to see him interact more with the Joker, so that we can understand how this has affected their relationship. 

Batman yelling emphatically in the face of a frightened Warden

If you haven’t read White Knight, then you should know that Alfred died, and we now see the letter that he left for Bruce to read. It’s a very touching moment, but it also means that Alfred starts the chain of events which will lead to more about the curse. Because of his dead Bruce is still reeling a little bit. He’s not quite your friendly neighbourhood Batman, but he does get the job done. 

Batgirl telling Batman that Gotham is full of "weird shit".

We are left with a lot of questions, and not nearly as many answers. Who are the elites? Are they a Court of Owls sort of thing? What is Joker’s plan? Who is this Constantine guy? You might already know more about Constantine, I personally don’t other than bits I gleaned from a quick Wiki search, but what role is he playing in this book? I’m excited to find out. 

Batman: Curse of the White Knight #1 is available from Comixology, Forbidden Planet (aff. link), or your local comic book store. 

Coming Soon… Curse of the White Knight #2

In the meantime, why not check out… Batman: White Knight

12 thoughts on “Review: Batman: Curse of the White Knight #1

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