Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Batman: Curse of the White Knight #3 Review

What BIG hands you have!

Writer: Sean Murphy
Art Team: Sean Murphy, Matt Hollingsworth, AndWorld Design
Release Date: September 25, 2019
Cover Price: $4.99

First and foremost, I've enjoyed the added layer on mystery thrown into the latest iteration of the White Knight series, I think it makes it stand out a bit in a crowded Batman market. I dig the Zorro vibes of the past big time, Murphy's art style of course, and I also am so ready for this story to pull those seemingly loose threads together in an interesting way. Well, it all begins to start to come into play in this issue right here, so let's not hesitate any further, and get right into discussing just what develops in issue three of this multi-layered extravaganza called Curse of the White Knight.

The issue begins by picking up directly where the last issue ended, with Batman fleeing the BatCave, all his tech was turned against him, his mansion destroyed by the Azrael and the 'Elites', and the consequences of that unfolding right in front of him. The Task Force quickly comes to Batman's rescue, but at the risk of his identity, and all those he's been involved with, as Barbara Gordon mainly gets spotlighted this issue.

So the current state of Batman and crew, after refusing to submit to the demands of 'the Elites', is up in the air at best.  The art really sets the mood in the early going of the story, doing a great job quickly of reminding the reader where they last left off the last issue, without too many words or hints otherwise, while capturing the panic and confusion of everyone on the scene. Even going as far as getting a chuckle out of me with Bullock's face towards transitions to the next set of scenes. Tell me that's not the face of the most surprised man you ever saw?!

As Batman and company attempt to put the pieces together, Gordon reveals Joker is again in custody, forcing Batman/Bruce to once again seek Harley out for assistance. These actions lead to a prison interrogation scene, with the highlight being some clever back and forth between Batman and Joker, as each spill the beans regarding what they know about whats going on, both past and present. It's a scene very reminiscent of the Dark Knight with Ledger Joker, until it's not, which is again what makes this series familiar but different.

Ultimately this all ends with Batman's trump card, Harley, NOT drawing Jack out as they anticipated, forcing the Bat Squad to move to plan B.  This issue initially had me down at first because of the lack of true action, however the mind games, with the did he/didn't he storyline, has me sucked into the dialogue of each issue absorbing it all.  Normally when I read through anything, I have to do a re-read to even remember what I even read in the first place to get things to stick. Here though, Murphy does a good job of reminding readers what came before, but he never makes it too wordy, and even going a step further, usually drops new information into his previous questions. Most importantly, it's done in a clear and concise manner. It's not characters back and forth, talking in half sentences, interrupting each other, because someone thinks that's how people talk, and I appreciate that.  If I had any complaint here at all the jumping around between scenes or transitions between them, confused the pants of me at a couple points. Sometimes that happens with review copies on tablets though, and it's all sorted out by the time the issue drops, or it's just more clear whats going on in a scene to me with a hard copy in hand.

BatSquad Plan B takes the book down a few strange paths, that become more obviously foreshadowed during a second read through, but remain effective none the less if you've been following the series (both first and second so far).  Gordon takes center stage heavily in the latter half of this issue, starting with a scene at a local happy hour bar, as he begins to set the stage for handing over reigns of Police Commissioner job to Renee Montoya, considering himself compromised.  The second detour takes place in Arkham after the building is emptied, in order for Batman and Harley, who seems to have a flirty back and forth going here in this issue, to investigate the location of Joker's cell once again. This all leads to a couple pretty wild cliffhangers, that even if you considered this a slower issue in the series, get you back around to having a blast by the end of things. So I won't spoil those big moments but they have me excited to see character reactions next issue and where that takes this story.

Bits and Pieces:

Overall, Curse of the White Knight takes a break from the faster pacing of issues one and two, to dig into the mystery at hand, and really examine how all the different pieces fit into this puzzle from past to present.  Sean Murphy again does both scripting and art duties, showing equal care in crafting a tale that remains visually interesting, and intriguing to fans of the Worlds Greatest Detective.  The series as a whole continues to be a nice break from a typical Batman story, that may miss the mark at times with a few of the 'chances' it takes, yet still manages to find a good combination of familiarity with originality by the end.


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