Oh dear, this is not good. Not this penultimate edition of Batman: White Knight, but the rabbit hole down which the Batman family and Commissioner Gordon have followed the reformed Jack Napier, only to find The Joker knocking at the gates of sanity and ready to come out and play. Looks like, in betting against Bats, Gotham City have no choice but to bet on Napier as he slowly unravels. If fact, it’s something Neo-Joker is counting on.
It’s been made clear throughout this standout series that Napier has not been the purest of souls in his quest to bring down Batman and win over the city and it’s citizens, and now he has only one choice to defeat Neo-Joker it would seem. A good ol’fashion team-up with his arch-enemy, the Batman! Yes-haw!
But, to sum it up so simplistically takes away from the twists and turns still being revealed in this issue. Batman and the Joker have always been somewhat dual opposites, like Luthor and Superman. Joker could be seem as a darker reflection of Batman. I mean, both are insane in my eyes, and both in love with Gotham City, but with wealth comes the privilege of being able to label yourself ‘eccentric’. When poor people go mad, they get locked up in Arkham. When it’s a playboy billionaire, they dress up like a bat. Take for example when Batman quizzes Napier on Jason Todd’s fate. Both he and the reader are left shocked, but it’s a subtle nod to their closeness, whether they like it or not. If Napier is indeed guilty of creating Neo-Joker, then Batman must carry the blame for creating Robin. Like I said, darker reflections.
It’s very rare that an outstanding, industry leading artist can often transform into an equally outstanding writer, and not so quickly and deftly. But, Sean Murphy is one such creator and, like Frank Miller before him, he delivers an alternative universe that you just know will go down in he annals of DC history – just like Miller’s Dark Knight future world – as a stone cold all time classic. And, I dare say, a twisted version of the DCU that will be visited from time to time in the not too near future too, I hope. Hell, Murphy even has the time in this packed issue to give us a meaningful, logical raison d’etre for Batman’s continued obsession with fighting crime that doesn’t just fall back on the default factory setting of it being all about his dead mum and dad. This Batman has an eye on the past, yes, but his focus his very much on the future and his legacy to his own family.
Once again Matt Hollingswoth on colours helps accentuate Murphy’s rather delicate penmanship and does a grand job of highlighting his art, rather than washing it out in a blend of shadow and muddiness. A brooding Gotham, yes, but neatly so. Every detail is there to revel in.
By the end of this book, all the chess pieces are in play and the big showdown is ready to go! I’ll be sad to see the end of this awesome series, but interesting to see what Murphy does next at DC, whether that’s in returning to this world or any of DC’s properties.