Why is Gotham hated

Independent comic magazine since 2000

You shouldn't always indulge in superlatives, but this Batman from Sean Murphy is the best in years.

All images: © Panini Comics

Batman puts his reputation at risk when he arrests the Joker with considerable effort (destroyed house roofs, painful police officers, disturbed passers-by, etc.) and torments the arch villain as the culmination of his orgy of persecution in front of the camera by giving the Joker unknown medication instills. A smartphone with video function is not far, and so these images go around the world, at least the world of Gotham City. Horror spreads: Hasn't Batman exaggerated this time? All the more dramatic that the pills apparently cure the madman of his madness and convert the Joker back into Jack Napier.

While the Joker, sorry: Jack Napier, is being questioned by Commissioner James Gordon in the interrogation room of the police station, during the course of the conversation he simultaneously takes off his role as a psychopathic criminal and, discreetly presented in the picture, takes off his handcuffs. By freeing himself from his chains in several ways, he forces Gordon to distance himself from Batman, whose excessive use of force is now openly revealed: "Batman is not one of us." And so Jack Napier explains that he is out of love to Gotham act as a counterpart to the Dark Knight: He is the white knight.

Both quickly receive a psychological or similarrigin story: Batman mourns the dying Alfred, while the Joker cannot cope with his professional failure as an unsuccessful comedian. In the midst of his Batman Memorabilia Messi household sits lovesick Jack Napier and analyzes his relationship with the Dark Knight: "You hated me and I loved you." A complex love triangle develops around the Joker, Batman and Harly Quinn, and With the inclusion of the conflicting double identities, a story emerges whose relationships of rejection and affection are somewhat demanding - a hexagonal relationship that requires pen and paper.

Napier becomes a political authority with a clear agenda: Batman has to go! With the attitude of an anti-politician (without a program, but with an enemy image) he is running for the office of community spokesman for Backport: "What we are seeing here is the beginning of a movement - a revolution against the Gotham elites ! " With the support of a media campaign, he convinces the police and the public that Batman is not a knight, not even a dark one. At the same time, Bruce Wayne realizes that as Batman, he has also become part of a grotesque industry that made money from real estate destroyed by Batman. It is also about political populism, credibility and the seducibility of the masses, whereby the comic does not allow a clear look behind the scenes of the facades: We see the actions of the characters, whereas some motifs remain hidden from us.

The white knight but is more than a simple reversal of moral signs, because all characters, white and dark knights, remain in the gray area: Jack Napier's intentions turn out to be not quite as noble as he would like to sell them to the media public.

I first met Sean Murphy when I was doing a workshop looking for comics about Christ and doing his Punk rock jesus (2013) about a Christ clone in a media dystopia. His angular drawings and the narrative independence of breathing so much presence into his subject quickly cast a spell over me. That also applied to a certain extent Chrononauts (2015) and Tokyo Ghost (2016), although he ’only did the artwork in both projects and Mark Millar (Chrononauts) or Rick Remender (Tokyo Ghost) the scenario. Sean Murphy confirmed with BatmanThe white knight, for which he is responsible for the story and design, so that his talent is not only in drawing, but also in storytelling.

In The white knight Some surprises are waiting for the reader: Batman im Arkham Asylum (not as a visitor), Alfred's suicide note, Batman's announcement that he would reveal his identity (whether he will do it?), a wonderful confusion about Harley Quinn and the clarification of what really happened to Jason Todd. An exciting carousel ride through the Batman universe!

With the black label imprint as its first release The white knight has appeared (after Damned), DC has created an extremely dark and complex vision of the Dark Knight cosmos, even darker than Frank Miller's classic The Dark Knight Returns (1986) and no less brilliant than the famous stories about the self-growing bat by Alan Moore (The Killing Joke, 1988) or Grant Morisson (Arkham Asylum, 1989). The eight issues appeared between October 2017 and May 2018 and should be included Curse of the White Knight to be continued in 2019.

By the way: The TV presenter who reports on Batman's excess of violence has a coffee mug on the moderation desk, the inscription of which proves: He is a Punk rock jesus-Fan. I would also get one White KnightBuy a mug because Sean Murphy's Batman is one of the best Batman stories ever told. There has to be so much superlative.

Batman - the white knight
Panini, 2019
Text and drawings: Sean Murphy
208 pages, color, softcover
Price: 22.00 euros
ISBN: 978-3741609848
Reading sample

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