I read but didn’t review Batman: White Knight #1 and I really enjoyed it. I was happy to be along for the ride on issue #2. I read it and I have to give my thoughts. The premise of the whole story is interesting, the Joker is cured, returning to using the name Jack Napier, and suing the city for being the catalyst for his crimes. Neat concept, but, considering the sheer level of chaos and evil we have seen the Joker enact over the years, a hard sell. Mr. Murphy, I am buying it.
The book was written by Sean Murphy who also handles the pencils and inks. Matt Hollingsworth adds the color, and Todd Klein does an amazing job on letters.
The reason I am compelled to talk about this issue has nothing to do with the characterization of the Joker or Batman. It is Harley Quinn. Where does Harley fit into a world where Jack Napier has gone straight, and is no longer the crazed clown? How does that change their relationship? Who is Harley when Mr. J become Mr. Napier? Who is Harley? I will not spoil this, for the next reader, but man, that made a lot of sense. An amazing way to handle this character and all her changes from The Doctor in Mad Love to the very different character in Suicide Squad.
Bravo Mr. Murphy. I hope this explanation sticks. Harleen becomes the star of this issue, quietly and with a painfully introspective round of characterization. My heart broke with her heart, and I found myself nodding along as she told her tale. The secret to making a story like this work, is to not make the characters go too good, or rush to sainthood. This doesn’t happen here. Both Jack and Harleen still have sins to answer for, and both characters are aware of them. It is a Batman story, so I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that they are both still clearly up to something. We just don’t know if the scheme aides the light or dark sides of Gotham yet.
Hey! Batman was in this book too! Bruce is getting a very real look at some of the unintended consequences of his nighttime adventures thanks to some interesting scenes set at a party with his socialite upper crust friends. This was a very interesting take on Batman’s presence in the city, and certainly worth exploring. For me, nothing tops the character work we get with Harley in this issue. If you are at all a fan of that character (especially her early Jester capped appearances) you owe it to yourself to grab this issue.
As for the art, there is nothing to complain about. The pages go from very solid to amazing. A scene with Mr. Freeze and his wife is beautiful enough to warrant paying the cover price alone.
To sum it up, the story gets a 5/5 stars from me, it is an innovative and believable way to justify an unbelievable situation. The art gets 4.5/5 stars, it is well composed, and exciting, with moments that are breathtaking. Grab this book. 4.5/5 stars.
(W) Sean Murphy (A/CA) Sean Murphy