Book Review - Batman: White Knight

Batman: White KnightBatman: White Knight by Sean Gordon Murphy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Despite many cliche moves and characterizations, this was quite an interesting read.

Set in a world where the Joker is allegedly cured of his mental afflictions, we see the repercussions of an entire city gone mad - or have they finally become sane? Suddenly, Jack Napier, as the Joker calls himself now, is the good guy, working hard to rid Gotham of crime and most importantly, of Batman.

Batman in this series is a real menace - he's angry, vengeful, insane. His characterization is the most bizarre because he just cannot see the forest for the trees. He falls into every trap that first the Joker, and later Jack, set for him. How can he be so blind?

Barbara Gordon's Batgirl is an overly emotional person who keeps getting caught in between Bruce and Dick's skirmishes. She doesn't have much character aside from being Dick's foil and always playing referee. She's the quintessential female character that men love to write, because they can't see women as wholesome characters in themselves. It's annoying that the writer thought it was imperative that Batman have a closer relationship with Barbara, when Dick is technically his son.

Dick is such a... dick! He actively hates Batman and they do not have a single interaction which doesn't either start or end with the two of them fighting. Batman is painted as some awful human being who everyone around him hates. Even Jason Todd hated him in this series. Dick and Jim Gordon betraying Batman in this series is a truly unkind low-blow. Having said that, Batman never listened to any of them, so I would probably also have arrested him by that point.

There are too many gimmicks the writer uses that give away his sub-par abilities. Two reporters speculate about the Joker's reformation. One insists this is all a game, while the other (a woman, of course) whole-heartedly believes in everything Jack says and does. She is such a sycophant that it's unbelievable this series was written in 2017.

And, let's not start with the Harleys. They deserve better - so much better. I thought both of them were incredible characters, but the origin story of the second one changed from issue #1 to a very cliched one in #2. I preferred the first story of Harley replacing herself to get out of this mess, rather than the second Harley just easily becoming a victim of stockholm syndrome. Too many tropes were employed to push the story forward.

Yes, the book has problems with it's too on-the-nose characterizations and the demonization of pretty much every good guy. But, this is still a refreshing take on the characters and the Bat-Universe. I kind of liked it, it was compelling. But the writing needed to be much better to add any sense of credibility.

Also, the ending battle - I'm sorry, but that was straight out of the 'Batman and Robin' movie, complete with a freeze cannon and shots of Gotham citizens being unfrozen. We see what you did there, author. You thought we wouldn't notice, but we did.

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