After wrapping up most of the major conflicts in the series, Sean Gordon Murphy makes this penultimate issue one big roller-coaster ride to the finale. There are lots of emotional moments, intense action sequences, and character reunions to catapult us into the final act.
So why did I feel nothing throughout the entire issue?
Well, it’s because I’ve become disengaged with these versions of the characters. Chapter after chapter of poor dialogue, poor characterizations, and poor story logic have done that. Those flaws perpetuate throughout this issue as well.
The Culmination of Problems
Remember how I complained in the last review that all of the major conflicts of the series were being solved by Bruce Wayne giving speeches to the people who were angry with him? Well, that happens here. Remember how I pointed out that the mechanics behind Jack Napier’s AI form made no sense? Well, they continue to make no sense. At one point, the story shifts so that EVERYONE can see Jack as his own separate entity, but it’s never explained why. The dialogue and characterizations come off as rather silly at times, too. The best example of that occurs when Jack Napier starts screaming that he’s “totally fan-girling out” over Batman.
He then proceeds to spend the rest of the issue with a ridiculous smile on his face.
Also, there are some odd choices in terms of story structure. I thought it was strange that Sean Gordon Murphy would open the issue with an exploration of Dick Grayson’s past and what he means to Bruce. We are in the twilight of this universe, after all. Why are we just now fleshing out Robin?
But it proves to only be there to build up a death scene that doesn’t actually pan out. A lot of emotionally build up for nothing.
The Visuals Are *Almost* Still Great
Look, I don’t want to spend the entire review ragging on this book, but I honestly feel exhausted with this universe. I’ve always been able to praise the visuals in Murphy’s books, and there are still some to appreciate here. For example, we have the opening of the book with Dick Grayson’s backstory. It’s all colored in browns and grays with tiny touches of blue, drawing your eyes to the page and amplifying the feeling of sadness. Even if this flashback ultimately doesn’t work in the issue, it still looks great!
However, while most of my reviews have praised the visuals and separated them from the poor story, I finally have some artwork to criticize here. While Batman and Jack are zipping around on one of the flying Batmobiles, Murphy draws some solid red lines to portray the feeling of the vehicle swooping through the air where the two passengers scream. It gave an unintentionally silly and cartoonish feel to a book that otherwise wants to be taken very seriously.
This is the second time in my review that I’ve described Murphy’s writing as “silly” or “laughable.” I truly believe that’s because Murphy either doesn’t know how to juggle comic relief, or doesn’t realize when something is coming off as cringey. The crazy antics on the Bat-vehicles or Jack Napier’s “fan-girlish” behavior towards Batman is just too Looney Tunes for something that’s supposed to be a dramatic action piece in spite of the capes and tights.
An Empty Epic Finale?
When Murphy brings the whole gang together for an incredible group shot at the end, preparing for the final battle, it should make the reader feel incredible too: the feeling that every issue of White Knight over the past 5 years has led to to this. We’re finally getting the conclusion.
Yet…I feel nothing for this universe or these characters. What I’m looking forward to most is that this series will soon be over.
Which is an incredibly harsh and cruel thing to say, but it’s unfortunately true.
- You want to finish out the White Knight storyline
- Sean Gordon Murphy is your favorite artist
I’ve listened to interviews with Sean Gordon Murphy. He seems like a genuinely good guy who cares about listening to his fans as well as his critics. But I have to say, as someone who loved the White Knight universe when it started, this strikes me as a universe that has long run its course. I’m truly hoping that the final issue for this run really is the end for the entire White Knight universe.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.