Sunday, 3 December 2017

Batman: White Knight #1 Review (Sean Gordon Murphy, Matt Hollingsworth)

White Knight is a role reversal story where Batman suddenly loses the plot and gets banged up in Arkham while the Joker becomes “good” and decides to save Gotham. And the first issue is gahbage!

I’m not against experimental/Elseworlds-type stories like this but every “What if the Joker was good?” book I’ve read has stunk (like JM DeMatteis’ Going Sane or Michael Green’s Lovers and Madmen). I think that’s mainly because Joker’s such an awesome villain and only really works in that capacity. Why would we want to see him neutralised and made safe when he’s vastly more entertaining as an agent of chaotic evil? 

Also Sean Murphy isn’t nearly as talented a writer as he is an artist to successfully pull something like this off. In order to make his feeble concept remotely pliable he has to mischaracterise Batman as a lumbering psycho mindlessly smashing his way across Gotham, easily toyed with by the benign, playful puppeteer Joker. Neither version is especially compelling or convincing.

The artless rewriting of these two iconic characters is all the originality Murphy brings to the table. He steals Joker’s “real” name of Jack Napier from Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman movie, the concept of Joker thinking he and Batman are ultimate besties from Scott Snyder’s Death of the Family and Joker’s standup origins from Alan Moore’s Killing Joke. There’s a real dearth of ideas, or anything substantial, here, so much so I can’t believe there’s seven more issues of this nonsense to go!

Murphy’s art is the only plus about this one. He still draws the best, most badass Batmobile out there and in general the visuals are quite striking, particularly Gotham’s architecture, subtly accentuated by Matt Hollingsworth’s sharp colours. But Murphy’s writing hasn’t gotten any better since the laughable Punk Rock Jesus and his art doesn’t make up for that. There’s no way I’m going the distance with this boring, amateurish series - White Knight is white trash!

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