COMIC BOOK REVIEW: Batman: White Knight #8 (Broken Vows)

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The tale of Batman: White Knight reaches it’s epic conclusion with what some fans swear is among the greatest Bat stories ever written!

Batman: White Knight #8
Author: Sean Murphy
Artist: Sean Murphy
Colors: Matt Hollingsworth
Letters: Todd Klein
Publisher: DC Comics


What You Need to Know: 

Jack Napier has finally beaten Batman, or so he thinks. In the last year, ever since Batman forced experimental drugs down Jokers throat, a lot has been discovered about the Bat’s vigilantism. Jack Napier, the new identity of the lucid genius who used to go by The Joker, has helped bring these facts to light as he uncovers a multi-billion dollar budget exclusively for cleaning up Batman’s messes. These and other events such as the destruction of Jack’ s new library within the low-end part of Gotham (an event Jack actually coordinated using mind-controlled rogues) are used to demonstrate the destruction Batman causes. Jack has even had a Backgate citizen, known as Duke Thomas, help in his campaign to end vigilantism in Gotham.

When Jack first became lucid, he and Harley weren’t sure what to do, until Harleen Quinzel shows up to let Jack know that the Harley he has known for so long is nothing but an imposter that he had found during his growing obsession with Batman. Harleen forced the contemporary version of the same character out of Jokers life where she found her own identity as Neo Joker. Neo Joker finds the mind control that Jack used as Mad Hatter helps her take over Gotham and bring back the Joker she knows and loves. Together, Mad Hatter and Neo Joker discover an ice canon under Gotham constructed during World War II by Victor Fries’ father, but it was never used, until now! Right after a huge operation that finally put Batman in Arkham for good, Neo Joker flash freezes Gotham citizens and all. With Gotham’s finest hero locked in Arkham it will take the new GTO task force and every brain cell Jack has to beat Neo Joker and unfreeze Gotham.


What You’ll Find Out: 

As Batman and the Gotham City Police Department go on the offensive against Neo-Joker, Jack Napier’s ego shifts quickly between Joker and Napier as his drug regimen proves to be ineffective. Fortunately for Batman and all of Gotham, Joker despite his sinister self-serving motivations wants nothing more than to see the end of the Neo-Joker.

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The Joker and Neo-Joker finally confront one another. In the wake of the altercation, Clayface is released and summarily begins his own warpath creating devastation in his wake. Clayface immediately charges after Joker while Harley takes on Neo-Joker in a solo assault that requires Harley to muster all the resilience she can and stops just short of murdering Maria.

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After the climactic battle, Joker reverts to Napier and confesses all of his crimes and willingly enters police custody. Gotham is deeply divided in opinion over who was right and who was wrong.

Napier has one final wish. In the midst of a shotgun wedding in his newly modeled jailcell, Napier and Harley begin to exchange marital vows. Harley’s dream is cut short. Before Napier can speak his words of commitment, his loses control for the final time to the Joker.

Finally ready to confront his biggest loss, Batman supported by Barbara and Dick read Alfred’s letter and in doing so reconciles how far from the path he has strayed.

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Bruce confronts Harley with what he knows happened from the very beginning. Revealing the truth behind the origin of the drug, Harley is genuinely shocked to learn that it wasn’t Bruce, “the World’s Greatest Detective,” – The Joker, but instead Jack who knew from the very beginning.

Paying a final visit to Commissioner Gordon, Batman reflects on the insurmountable damage both he and the Joker have caused over the years and how far he has wandered into the grey and away from the clear definition of good and evil. Despite Gordon’s protests, Bruce decides it’s time for full disclosure and taking his lead from Jack, commits himself to facing the public and acknowledging his own fall from grace.

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What Just Happened?

First, I feel it’s imperative to confess. I’m not a reader of DC Comics, nor am I a fan. Maybe being raised on Marvel makes that hill insurmountable for me. Don’t get me wrong it’s not for a lack of trying. I’ve tried just about all of the DC staples but for a number of reasons they just don’t work for me. Bear with me. Our incredible White Knight review writer, Austin Braun is under the weather so I said, “I’ll fill in!” But maybe there’s some irony here especially since the White Knight, in particular, Bruce and Jack is a story all about coming to terms with the truth.

Regardless, though prejudice intact, I can certainly recognize an excellent story when I read one. And the fact of the matter is, at least for the 8th installment of the White Knight, a tale about events in a parallel timeline which all of the major players take a different path, surpasses excellence and registers into the small group of comics so far in 2018 that belong in an exceptional above their peers and in an of themselves.

Reading the issue without the background of the previous seven issues still allowed me to get my footing. Sure there are likely some nuances I may have missed or not recognized, but as a whole, I was able to grasp the plot without having to submerse myself in the entire limited series or all of Batman history for that matter. If you have a basic grasp of these characters even remotely from whatever exposure, be it comic, movie, cartoon, or otherwise, you’ll be able to comprehend the dynamic twist in each of their individual personas and archetypes. It was interesting to see them in an entirely different light.

Rating: 10/10
Final Thoughts: Even those who don’t read DC Comics or enjoy their catalog as a whole should recognize the inspired work of writer Sean Murphy and furthermore have the ability to acknowledge that a well-written story is hard enough to come by in our current period of comics but in 2018 White Knight truly stands among the strongest of those tales on a very high pedestal.

 

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