Batman: Curse of the White Knight #1 by Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth sees the welcome return of this alternative world Batman and his kinky boots, but now moved over to the book’s new home on the DC Black Label. And there’s a more supernatural flavour to this second series as we witness Edmond Wayne – a 17th century ancestor of Bruce and the first to lay down roots in the area destined to become Gotham City – strike down a vampiric ancestor of the Arkhman family in what will eventually become this world’s Arkham Asylum. An Arkham Asylum now with its own creepy gothic past hanging over it like a curse, which is designed to have ripples that no doubt Batman will feel shortly. Especially as he fascinated by his ancestor’s diary, left by the deceased Alfred Pennyworth as a parting gift to Bruce.
Meanwhile, we have a Joker on the run and up to his usual brand of tortuous mischief and angry at his former self, Jack Napier, for making Gotham the city Batman couldn’t. We even have time for a catch-up or two, such as Batman and Barbara Gordon, in her new role within Gotham City PD’s anti-terrorist organisation, Gotham Terrorist Oppression. Joker is on the loose and looking to make a big splash as only he can, and that splash is interwoven with, “the city’s biggest, darkest secret”. Seems it’s not just Batman who’s become fascinated with Gotham City’s dark past.
It’s a great catch-up issue for readers, re-familiarising ourselves with the main players and the new ones too, while also laying down the groundwork for what seems to be a rather busy series as we are also introduced to a far gnarlier military veteran version of Jean-Paul Valley, the eponymous White Knight, Azrael. A man with his own troubled past that’s seen his body, and his mind, all but used up. Just the type of person the Joker could make use of.
As well as an outstanding artists – offering up his signature style and a Gotham City that once again feels like stepping into a Piranesi-inspired Gotham, all shadows and stairways leading to God knows where – Murphy shows he’s a skilled writer with an exceptionally original point of view on Batman and The Joker. Including a heavy supernatural slant to this series that only heightens the Gothic sensibilities and reminded me of the early adventures of the Golden Age Batman. Judging by this first issue and its mounting mysteries, this is has all the hallmarks of being another critically acclaimed volume in the ongoing saga of Kinky Boots Batman.
By the end of the issue, the pressure has mounted and the battle lines are being drawn. Looks like Batman’s going to have yet another hard time proving that he is Gotham’s hero. And, while he’s got his work cut out for himself – even if he doesn’t know it yet – something tells me that, once again, this will be a very Joker-centric series. After all, he was so much fun last time round. But not in a funny ‘ha, ha’ kinda way.
Batman: Curse of the White Knight #1 is available now from DC Black Label.
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