A stunning opening issue that answers old questions in new ways, Batman: White Knight #1 has both excited and intrigued me in ways that no Batman comic has for a long time.
Writers have danced around the moral quandary of Batman’s crusade for years now. Sean Murphy tackles them head on.
- How can the Police Force condone Batman’s vigilantism?
- If they do, is every beating he dishes out Police brutality?
- Is Batman’s mission the misguided energy of a broken man and doomed to fail?
- What about the property damage and public endangerment his vehicles and gadgets cause?
- Can a Police Force relying on such a character ever be considered clean and capable?
- Is Batman mentally competent enough to be trusted with such power?
When you drill down into things, Batman’s entire setup relies on incompetency at various levels. If his mission were a successful one Gotham wouldn’t be swimming in supervillains. Is he a shield, protecting the public from evil, or is he a crutch preventing normal people from standing up and taking back what’s theirs?
This is what’s so exciting about this story; I love Batman but this has me asking so many questions! That it’s his greatest nemesis prompting me makes it all the sweeter and more interesting. Between the Police, The Joker, and his own allies, Batman is facing a challenge that I’m not sure he can overcome…rational thought. He may be the ‘World’s Greatest Detective’, but he can’t see the big picture and how he might be the cause of so much pain; pain he truly believes he’s preventing.
The artwork is beautiful. From the character design to the layout of each page it’s a real treat, made even better by Matt Hollingsworth’s colouring. An imposing Batman looming over a prone Joker, fist raised to deliver another blow as Gordon and Co look on, is a page that will stay with me well after this series finishes. The grit of the lines matches the choice of colour so well. Murphy’s Batmobile will stick in my mind too, as it uses influences from both previous designs such as Keaton and Bale’s cars, mixed with real cars to make a unique design that I keep returning to in a game of ‘find the car detail’.
I tried to think of a negative. Balanced review and all that. The only concern that comes to mind is that with Murphy on both story and art duties something will slide, be that scheduling or quality. I don’t know the man, but I have faith.
Batman: White Knight #1 is a triumph, pushing questions we as fans have discussed for years front and centre. It’s a bold story with strong ties to the real world. Future issues have their work cut out meeting the bar that has been set here.
I never thought I’d be that interested in Batman finally getting his comeuppance but Murphy has me hooked.