Comic Review – Batman: White Knight #1 (DC Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“I love Gotham” Jack Napier

Batman is bad for Gotham City, he creates criminals, causes unquantifiable amounts of property damage and makes it so much more of a dangerous place. You may have come across some of these points before (see this Episode of Cracked After Hours if you need refresher: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cd1sIwCLtIc ). Sometimes you have to wonder what publishers or owners of iconic heroes think of this sort of criticism, Sean Gordon Murphy at DC goes all in and actively embraces this criticism to bring us the new 8 part series – Batman: White Knight.

This comic was bought to us by:

  • Writer, art and cover – Sean Murphy
  • Colours and Cover Colours – Matt Hollingsworth
  • Letters – Todd Klein

For those of you who don’t know, the premise of White Knight is simple. People realise how bad Batman is for Gotham, and the charges against him are lead by none other than his greatest nemesis – Jack Napier aka the Joker. He’s cured of his insanity and takes on Batman as Gotham’s White Knight, taking him on in obvious ways which Bats simply doesn’t see coming. The story opens with what feels like a fun tribute to Lego Batman – with the Joker trying to explore his relationship with a very reluctant Batman. The Joker is portrayed as Batman’s biggest fan, in a similar way to the outstanding Death of the Family series by Scott Snyder. The first issue largely deals with world building, setting up the key plot threads and exploring what makes this Batman the person he is (outside of the usual dead parents, Bat obsession and grumpiness etc.). DC appears to have given Murphy all of the freedom to critique the Bat and vigilantism in general, with undertones of real world polarised political debate.

Murphy took care of the art as well, this being his project and has set the bar very high across the board for himself. The art has a very cinematic feel to it, it feels like these could easily be the frames waiting to be put together for an animated film. Batman is drawn as a hugely imposing figure, there’s a particularly iconic panel early on where Batman and Jack Napier square off. The Bat comes off as monstrous, with Napier for once being calm and collected under pressure. The pale colour pallet used by Hollingsworth lends to a more down to earth feeling, where actions have consequences and people get hurt. Klein also has his work cut out for him with the lettering, there’s a lot of dialogue in parts of the issue and only so much page to fit it into. Klein manages to layout a dynamic format which keeps the reader engaged.

How do both the Dark and White Knight’s hands check out though? Hands only feature so much in this issue, in places lettering or the limited space for panels leaves them squeeze out on occasion. Where they do exist however, a large amount of impact is packed into them. I’ll have to dock a couple of points for scarcity though! 8/10 for hand drawing skills!

Final Verdict

If any of you know the sort of comic I like, then it won’t come as a surprise that I really enjoyed this. I’m excited to see where Murphy goes with the plot, though unfortunately I have seen promising comics slip up before. If Murphy can keep this up though, I doubt that’ll be the case.

Score: 10 Rooms Full of Batman Memorabilia out of 10

Comic Book Movies We’d Like To See – DC Edition

Our pal Kit sometimes write for the site! This is one of those times.

So this article is mainly going to be me just throwing some ideas out there for, like the title says, some comic book films I’d like to see and why. One small caveat to get out of the way first though: I am completely unqualified to do this in any real capacity, my opinion is no more valid than an eight-year-old’s who want to see a film about Spider-Man fighting ninja dinosaurs. Wait. That sounds awesome. I’ll do three of these articles (unless I get ideas for more!) – this one for DC, one for Marvel and one for Image or Dark Horse.

Anyway, as you may have guessed by some of my other articles so far I’ve been much more a fan of the Marvel movies than the DC ones. When it comes down to it Marvel have done a much better job at producing films I’m the target audience of: relatively close to the comic books, able to have a bit of fun and usually a bit tongue in cheek and plenty of kick ass action. DC have stuck with the dark and gritty narrative, which works well for Batman (plus villains), but that’s about it unless you take the heroes in a very different direction. To be fair they did try something more ‘fun’ with the Green Lantern and look where that left them. Even so, with this in mind, these are the films I’d like to see DC produce:

  • Harley Quinn and the Joker

Harley and Joker 1

If you’re like me you may not be too keen on the way Harley’s looking in the Suicide Squad. Her costume makes her look like that nurse on the front cover of that Blink 182 album and so far the promotions have hinted at a ditzy blonde. What I’d like to see in this case is DC go right into the deep end of dark and gritty to tell the original story of how Dr Harleen Quinzel and the Joker became lovers.

harley and joker 2

Set in Arkham Asylum we’d see the young criminal psychiatrist Dr Quinzel start out working in the Asylum. We’d see her interest in the criminally insane drive her to working with more and more extreme patients, until she meets the worst of them all, the one who’s driven past psychiatrists and carers to insanity or suicide, the Joker. She begins working with him and learns well, how he got those scars! At least, how he says he did. He paints her a tragic back story and she begins to think she can ‘fix’ him. Bit by bit it feels like she’s making progress, but instead he’s been working away at her, eating away at her sanity and drawing her in more and more. Eventually he tells her how special she is to him and that’s it. She loves him. She breaks him out and if you want to throw in a Bat-cameo, now’s the perfect time! They battle him and eventually lose. The Joker betraying the now Harley Quinn to get away. She herself is now taken to Arkham Asylum, fully integrated into the Harley Quinn persona, angry and swearing revenge on the man she loved. In the final scene she finds a single flower and a note from the Joker. She opens it and for the final line of the film she simply says “I love you Mr J” or something to that effect.

This would need to be a full blown psychological thriller of course. Less fighting, more watching somebody’s mind unravel.

  • Superman Red Son

red son 4

Superman goes evil and begins to take over the world or be worshipped as a god so Bats comes out to teach him a lesson? Boring. Superman lands in the Soviet Union, not Kansas, and as his powers develop is he is brought into Stalin’s inner circle to rise up and become ultimate embodiment of communist ideology to rule Russia, and bit by bit, the world? Now that sounds interesting. This is a fantastic comic, I doubt it’d ever reach the screens of Hollywood, but it would be an excellent way to give you something a bit different for the original superhero so many now just find boring. And you know what? You can even throw in Cossack Batman for good measure. This would be a more traditional Superman film, with the ideology flipped on its head. Superman is personification of Communism, Soviet Justice and the Russian way and Lex Luthor is the American hero desperately trying to come up with a plan to stop him.

Red son 1

This is one of my favourite Superman stories, the comic is fantastic so check that out as this is unlikely to ever hit the big screen.

  • Wonder Woman

ww 1

Seriously DC. Get on with this, and do it well. Wonder Woman is a fantastic character. Read the Blood and Guts volumes in the DC New 52 initial run. Wonder Woman is at her best when the gender politics are put aside and instead of writing the usual patronising story of a ‘strong independent woman trying to prove herself in man’s world’ she does what she does best: kick the crap through the pantheon of Ancient Greek gods and monsters. There’s plenty of literature to give motivation for story arcs as well, as it turns out most of the Greek gods tended to be assholes who spent most of their free time backstabbing each other or setting monsters loose… for reasons… Let’s have Ares lead a war against Hades, or Poseidon battle it out with Gaia or hell. Or it turns out Zeus put his dick in something he shouldn’t have and shenanigans ensue (about 80% of Greek myths start this way).

WW 2

As we know DC do have plans for a Wonder Woman film in the works, which I really want to be good. We’ll have to wait and see I suppose.

 

I’ll leave it there with an element of each of DC’s trinity there. Joker and Harley from the Batman mythos, a fresh take on Supes and actually starting Wonder Woman. Other films I’d love to see for DC:

  • Batman and Robin. But good this time (and no, his name is not Robin, that’s his title. Get it right).
  • The Martian Manhunter.
  • Nightwing
  • Black Canary

Let me know what you think! Anything you’d like to see DC do? Anything you wouldn’t? Anything you like or dislike in my suggestions?

Next time round I’ll have a go at Marvel!

Kit

Comic Review – Batman #40

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he reviews of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

Contains some spoilers from earlier issues of the ‘Endgame’ arc

DC’s Convergence event is fairly huge, and being in a bit of a ropey financial situation right now, I decided to effectively bow out of DC Comics for the month… mostly. I’ve picked up the odd Convergence tie-in if a writer or artist is involved that I’m fond of, but with the main titles largely on pause until the move to Burbank is finished, I decided it was best to just save a bit of money and reduce my stack each Wednesday. However, this week saw the release of both Batman and Justice League #40, and as the former was then end of the current arc I’ve picked that to review this week (not the first time I’ve reviewed the conclusion of a Batman arc). As for the previous 39 issues, Batman #40 was written by Scott Snyder and pencilled by Greg Capullo, with inks by Danny Miki, colours from FCO Plascencia, letters by Steve Wands.

This issue was the finale of Endgame, the story arc that saw the Joker return to utterly destroy Batman and the world around him. Starting with corrupting the Justice League with Joker Venom, to mutilating those closest to Bruce, he also threaded a narrative that led to the potential conclusion that he was in fact immortal, that Batman could never stop him and that Gotham would fall. By this last issue, barely any citizens remain untouched by the latest Joker Venom, a strain that Batman couldn’t cure, that has turned them into crazed zombies fighting themselves and anyone uninfected. Having already enlisted the help of his rogues gallery who, despite their own criminal intentions and dubious sanity, don’t want to see Gotham torn apart any more than he does, Batman and the Bat family attempt to fight their way through the throng of victims with their contorted smiles and creepy laughter to try to get to the Joker, to find a cure and to find out once and for all if he really is ‘The Pale Man’, an immortal spectre as old as Gotham itself. The truth about both men, and how they face down the possibility of death, leads to the inevitable show down between Bruce and his possibly eternal foe, as the city quakes and tears itself apart above them.

I’ve said innumerable times how much I enjoy Scott Snyder’s writing, and he has continued to be very strong on Batman since the start of the New 52. Endgame has been a bombastic, hugely entertaining thrill ride from start to finish. As with the previous arcs, Snyder has continued to peel back why Bruce is so important, and we continue to be interested in him. This issue could have easily been overwrought or weighed down by the culmination of the story and the moving elements, like the inclusion of the villains on Batman’s side, but they were kept to the background without being sidelined, to allow for the final confrontation to breathe and to focus in on Batman and the Joker’s relationship as they brought each other to the brink of annihilation.

And this annihilation was, as always, beautifully realised by Capullo. The first half of the issue was strong as always, but the fight in the cavern is brutal, gory and truly visceral in a way that feels like if this was the last time Batman and the Joker ever faced each other (obviously it won’t be, because superhero comics) then this would be a fitting end. Miki’s inks bring a savage oppression to the fight, and a darkness to the rest of the issue that adds weight to the tone. Plascencia’s colours bring this all to life, with the stark and unnaturally bright shades of the sunset melee at the start, to the flame-lit show down. All together, the art team continues to shine even so far into the creative team’s run.

Though some elements of the fallout of Endgame have already been spoiled online (you’ve all seen the mechanised Batsuit), they lack the context and lead up that explains how we get there, or where we will go after. Regardless of what is coming next, this was another great end to what has been a really strong arc. Once again, Snyder and Capullo played with our expectations and threw in potential retcons that enraged or discomforted anyone with a particularly jerky knee. But comfort zones are for lesser storytellers, and things are at their best when they’re not as they seem. When this team does finally leave the book (and apparently they were originally planning to at the end of this arc), I don’t at all envy who has to pick up the reigns after them.

Pick up Batman #40 (if for some reason you haven’t already) on your digital comics platform of your choice or at your local comic shop. Even better, go and head down to Free Comic Book Day this Saturday 2nd May at your LCS and buy it when you get your free comics!

Score: 9 Lipstick Wearing T-Rexs out of 10