As soon as I finished my first readthrough of Sean Murphy’s Batman: White Knight, I realized it had become one of my favorite Batman series. I seriously would not shut up about it (including here on the DC site). Unsurprisingly, I’ve been greatly anticipating the continuation of Murphy’s story in Batman: Curse of the White Knight and it’s finally here!
As a quick refresh, in Batman: White Knight we learned that Jack Napier (sane Joker on meds) wasn’t as much of a good guy as he portrayed himself to be, BUT he did do some good by uncovering a lot of the corruption going on in Gotham City that all tied back to Batman in some way. He mainly exposed how the elites of Gotham profited off of the city’s criminal activity and the damage caused by the criminals and Batman alike.
In Curse of the White Knight, we quickly discover that the secrets brought to light by Jack only scratched the surface. There’s a bigger, more shocking secret that follows Gotham and the Wayne family all the way back to the 1600’s.
The first few pages of this issue take us to Gotham Valley in the year 1685. Here we are introduced to Edmond Wayne and Lafayette Arkham (aka Laffy) as they partake in a sword fight (because it’s the 1600’s and that’s how people fight). Long story short, Laffy claims that Gotham is cursed but Edmond isn’t having any of that and proceeds to kill him off. This little moment in the past is a big piece of the puzzle and is pretty crucial since the events tie in throughout the rest of the issue.
I really think it’s an interesting take to have this story be about a secret so deeply rooted in both Gotham’s and the Wayne family’s past. With Laffy being so eerily similar to the present day Joker, it makes it feel as if this “curse” is something that was just destined to happen. I’m no detective or anything but Joker…Laffy…“laugh-y”… I mean I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one that sees something there, right? And not only that, but Laffy has the same overly hysterical and evil laughter that the Joker has. Joker’s existence might be a part of that curse, which is why he’s been a part of Batman’s life for so long.
There are other little instances that take place in the present day which tie into what occurred so long ago in the past. Batman’s discovery of Laffy’s bones, Edmond Wayne’s journal and whip made of bat leather further reinforce how everything is connected and has been connected for so long. I’m really out here collecting all of these clues and am very eager to see how everything will all fall into place.
Meanwhile, we find that corruption in Arkham Asylum is still alive and well, and of course, we see the Joker taking full advantage of that to escape from his prison cell. Two things are made clear straightaway: one, the Joker absolutely hates Jack Napier for taking all the fun out of Gotham and two, Joker knows what the Wayne family secret is. He’s ready to reveal the truth, but not without some help.
Joker recruits Azrael to help him take down Bruce Wayne. Azrael has been considered both a Bat-ally and villain in his history as a character, and it seems that in Murphy’s Bat-Saga he is not going to be an ally. At the time Joker finds him, Azrael is in a very sick, vulnerable and unstable state. Joker takes advantage of that and tells him that he is the rightful heir to Gotham and must reclaim what the Waynes took from him. There’s not a lot of Azrael in this issue, but there’s no doubt he’ll be playing a bigger and more brutal role in the issues to come.
This new trajectory that Murphy’s story is taking coming out of White Knight is so unique and exciting, but what I truly admire is how what took place in the past still has a major effect on this narrative. We still see how Bruce continues to cope with Alfred being gone and see his relationship with Barbara and Dick develop further. Most importantly, we see Batman accepting his failure to protect Gotham after everything Jack exposed. It even has him questioning if he should reveal his identity and end his time as The Bat. But with what’s yet to be revealed by Joker and Azrael, this is only the beginning for him.
It’s quite clear that there’s still a lot left to unpack in this story. I’ll definitely be thinking up my own theories until the next issue arrives, but overall, Batman: Curse of the White Knight has established an exciting new storyline that builds off of the events in White Knight. If you loved the first series, I highly recommend you give Murphy’s follow-up a read. It’s only going to get better from here!
Batman: Curse of the White Knight #1 by Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth is now available in print and as a digital download.
Lissete Gonzalez writes about film, TV and comics for DCComics.com and is a contributor to Couch Club, our weekly television column. Look for her on Twitter at @lissete74.