REVIEW: Batman: White Knight #8

BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT #8 / Writer: Sean Murphy / Artist: Sean Murphy / Letterer: Todd Klein / Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth / Publisher: DC Comics / May 9th, 2018

Sometimes I’m not sure why I wear the mask. Is it to scare them? Or is it because I scare myself?

Batman: White Knight #8 is the culmination of one of the most ambitious and meditative Batman stories in recent memory. Sean Murphy, whose talents usually lie solely in his artwork, has crafted the kind of Batman story most writers dream of getting the shot at making; a story in which Murphy has Batman and his co-stars ask themselves the kind of questions DC have been dodging for decades. Is the Batman really good for Gotham? Or is he just like the villains he tries to lock up?

As has been the case since page 1 of issue 1, Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth do a fantastic job on the artwork. Something I noticed this issue was the deeper focus on emotion, more specifically in Harley and the Joker’s interactions. Maybe it’s simply because of the heightened drama the characters find themselves in, but I found myself paying closer attention to the impressive level of detail Hollingsworth and Murphy etched into their character’s faces.

Art-wise, the most noteworthy sequence this issue was Harley and Neo-Harley’s chase scene through Gotham’s underground tunnels. Murphy does a great job adding in detail to what would otherwise be blank space, and Hollingsworth’s focus on muted, lighter colours in the background make the characters in the foreground pop. It’s very hard to fault the artwork in the series in any way. Murphy and Hollingsworth are a creative team I definitely want to see working together again in the future.

Story-wise, it’s hard to speak about any element of the plot without spoiling it due to how densely-packed the narrative leading up to this point has been. Admittedly, half of the issue is just one big action scene but there’s so many resolutions and payoffs stuffed in around it, it’s a wonder it doesn’t come off somewhat over-compressed. Alfred’s letter is finally addressed, Harley and Neo-Harley eventually have their big showdown, Jack and The Joker’s battle comes to a head – all while some of the more minor set ups, like Clayface’s role in the story and the brewing animosity between Gordon and Batman, come to a close. It’s truly a wonder Murphy managed to stuff this much into 28 pages.

What I can say however, is that Batman: White Knight #8 is really best viewed as a sum of its parts instead of as a single issue. It’s not simply another Batman story about one of the Joker’s nefarious schemes to take over Gotham, but instead an introspective look at how we perceive these characters and how they’ve changed over the decades.

Even though he takes a backseat for the majority of the story, often making it seem like Jack/Joker is the true star of the story, Batman is both the focus and study of White Knight’s narrative. Murphy isn’t afraid to ask some uncomfortable questions about Bruce Wayne’s psyche, and where exactly he thinks the character is heading in the future. To me, it seemed like Murphy is asking the readers “will we ever let Bruce Wayne die, or will he fight the villains of Gotham for eternity?” I’m not sure I can answer that question myself but, based of his stellar work over the course of White Knight, maybe Sean Murphy can.

Verdict: 5 Batmobile Tunnel Fights out of 5

Lewis loves Nightwing more than you ever will, so keep your filthy hands away from him. If he’s not delving into his insanely long back catalogue, Lewis is likely getting bodied in a fighting game or tweeting something pointless.

Lewis loves Nightwing more than you ever will, so keep your filthy hands away from him. If he's not delving into his insanely long back catalogue, Lewis is likely getting bodied in a fighting game or tweeting something pointless.

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Noah 'Ox' Baas

Great review. It felt to me it leaned way too heavily on prior Batman stories like the Animated Series. Me – not being a huge DC fan – had a hard time keeping up with most of it. As you pointed out the dense content didn’t flow well enough for me and it felt like the story was tripping over itself to get to the next action scene and splash page. I loved the art but the muted colors really… Read more »