The Joker’s war on Batman is joined… by Azrael!  But whose side is he on?  Your Major Spoilers review of Batman: Curse of the White Knight #3 awaits!


Writer: Sean Murphy
Artist: Sean Murphy
Colorist:Matt Hollingsworth
Letterer: AndWorld Design
Editor: Mark Doyle
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: September 25, 2019

Previously in Batman: Curse of the White Knight: Batman salvages a groundbreaking clue from the wreckage of Wayne Manor and recruits Harley Quinn to confront The Joker for answers about the mystery of Gotham City’s foundations!  Their investigation takes a dire turn in the darkest corners of Arkham, and Gordon’s life is in peril after a new commissioner is named.


Moments after the climax of last issue, Batman is sinking to the bottom of Gotham Bay in a wrecked Batmobile, barely escaping with his life after kicking out a window.  He’s fished out of the river by the GCPD, Batgirl and Nightwing, which saves him from drowning but also reveals his secret identity to the world.  Along with the Police and his Bat-family, Bruce tries to unravel the mystery of the man in red who attacked him, with the cluse pointing him to a very pregnant Harley Quinn.  After helping her put together a crib, they interview the Joker together, discovering that he’s hiding a secret about the Wayne Family: Bruce’s descendent was a murderer!  Maybe…  It’s hard to say, as The Joker has gone to great lengths to hide the evidence of exactly WHAT the secret might be, and with his previous gambits working so well (the entire world believes him to be a violent, dangerous madman) Bruce worries what comes next.  Sadly, before he can move on to the next clue, Harley goes into labor.  Elsewhere, Commissioner Gordon meets with the man he thinks is Batman, only to find Azrael in the shadows instead, which leads to a tragic final page.


There’s a moment in this issue where Harvey Bullock and Renee Montoya are having a drink with Commissioner Gordon, during which he reveals that he’s going to step down and name Renee the new Gotham City commissioner, leading her to angrily confront him about it being “equal opportunity bull$#!+”, followed by Bullock making a joke about her being a lesbian.  It’s very much a “Look what we can do in this adult title!” moment, and I have to say, I disliked it.  Then again, I seem to recall not being particularly enamored of ‘Batman: White Knight’, to which this story is a sequel.  Murphy is a talented artist, as proven by the visuals (the opening sequence of the exploded animated-series-inspired Batmobile sinking in the river is stunning) but the story here presents a number of problems.  The basic premise of a lawless Batman who is seen as the real villain in Gotham has possibilities, but it’s hard to accept the Bruce Wayne’s crusade against crime is justified or necessary when the story keeps explicitly saying the opposite.  Even the strongest story beats here are predictable, such as Jim Gordon’s murder moments before retirement or Harley suddenly being in full labor in seconds after having no issues interrogating her ex in prison a few pages before.


My biggest complaint about Batman: Curse of the White Knight #3 is how little “else” is in their Elseworlds, as this could easily be a prime universe Batman story if you just squint when they talk about the Joker’s history, and while the art is admittedly excellent, it can’t quite overcome the weaknesses of the story, leading to a still better-than-average 3 out of 5 stars overall.  While I’m not a fan of the premise, it has potential that could have made for a much better overall reading experience with the support of a strong writer like previous collaborators Rick Remender or even Mark Millar, and that adds another layer of disappointment.

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Better Drawn Than Written

There are a lot of interesting moments here, but the basic "What if Batman, only people think he's bad?" premise still isn't holding water.

It's very well-drawn, though.

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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