THIS WEEK: The latest series in the White Knight saga comes to a close in Batman: Beyond the White Knight #8.
Note: the reviews below contain spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdicts.
Batman: Beyond the White Knight #8
Writer: Sean Murphy
Artist: Sean Murphy
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterers: Andworld Design
Cover: Sean Murphy
Sean Murphy wrote himself into a corner. In Curse of the White Knight, he killed his golden goose. His version of the Joker, problematically cured by overdosing on medication, was dead at the hands of Harley Quinn. Jack Napier was what made his world at least a little bit interesting, no matter how badly Murphy represented psychiatric medicine through him. Without Napier, Murphy’s Batman was left without a good foil, his unhinged behavior demonstrating all the more that this Batman is not a hero.
But still, that’s how Murphy wants to use him. He’s still the protagonist of this series, no matter how many terrible things he does again and again. Beyond killing off the Joker, Murphy also left the last series in a natural closing point with his version of Bruce Wayne arrested. When the new series was announced as a riff on Batman Beyond, I had some hope that maybe Murphy would move past using his own little Dynamic Duo to expand and enrich his universe.
Sadly, my hopes outweighed reality, because despite the name of the book, Terry McGinniss is very much a tertiary character in this series, meant just to provide the aesthetic of the costume to the series. But that’s one of the bigger problems with this series. The world of Batman Beyond is all about aesthetics. Not just the costume, but the world itself. It’s a neon nightmare of cyberpunk trappings. It’s bright. It’s fun. It was meant to enrapture eight-year-olds in front of a TV every Saturday morning. Murphy’s NeoGotham is just Murphy’s Gotham. The colors of the book are the same as the colors of every other White Knight universe book. They’re dull and muted, making for a grounded and realistic look. Grounded and realistic are the opposite of what NeoGotham should be. Where are my neons? Even Blight is a washed-out green and not the radioactive neon that we all fell in love with 30 years ago.
No, Batman: Beyond the White Knight wasn’t a Batman Beyond story. It was just another White Knight story. Bruce is out of jail early on in the story. He’s possessed by the ghost of Jack Napier, because Murphy can’t let that dynamic die. By Batman: Beyond the White Knight #8, Napier has taken control of a hardlight hologram projector and is just another full-on protagonist for the book, providing McGinnis with the way to defeat Blight at the climax of the book.
I also had hopes that this might be the last of the White Knight stories, but sadly that’s also not going to be the case. I had that hope because the Bruce in this world is very much an old man, it’s been over a decade since Curse of the White Knight, and Terry having the suit should set up a new era. But that’s not the case, as at the end of the issue Bruce is approached by FBI agents Diana Prince (because Wonder Woman clearly needed to be a cop) and John Stewart about a man in Kansas with some unique abilities that the government thinks is a threat. Sigh.
- I Am Batman also comes to a close this week, a title I’m sad to see go. John Ridley did a fantastic job through eighteen issues (and the Future State mini-series) building out Jace’s world. I hope we see more of Jace in the near future, because he’s too good of a character to fade into the background.
- Batgirls #15 had me going for a second. But the power of friendship prevails and the girls will continue to ride together.
- I really like how the Lazarus Planet one-shots are setting up future stories in the universe. Everything has a feeling of being connected to the big event while also setting up something to come immediately after.
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