Comic Review: Batman: White Knight Presents – Von Freeze

Published: November 20th, 2019
Written by: Sean Murphy
Art by: Klaus Janson, Matt Hollingsworth, Sean Murphy (cover)

DC Comics, 56 Pages

Review:

I had no idea that this was coming out until I saw it on the shelf at my local comic shop. I’m glad it did though, as I’ve been digging Sean Murphy’s White Knight stuff, as they are the best Batman stories written in the last few years.

This story exists in Murphy’s Batman universe, which is separate from regular continuity. I’m totally cool with Murphy’s continuity because the regular continuity has pretty much been ruined by the depressed, mid-life crisis having Tom King.

While this story doesn’t even feature much of Batman at all, it focuses on Mr. Freeze, his relationship with his father, his future wife Nora and his family’s past during their time in Nazi Germany.

I wasn’t sure how much I’d like this little side quest story in Murphy’s mythos but man, it was a damn compelling read, pretty emotional and it had me hooked immediately and kept me glued to every single page of this beefy one-shot.

Unlike Murphy’s other White Knight related books, he didn’t do the interior art. Those duties went to veteran Klaus Janson with Matt Hollingsworth on colors. This is some of my favorite art Janson has ever done. It also fits well with the now familiar visual style of Murphy’s. If Murphy ever gets so busy writing and needs someone else to handle art duties, I think Janson would be a good partner, assuming he maintains the tighter style that he employed here. And that’s not to knock his other work but this just looks like he really handled the art with great care.

Von Freeze is damn solid and worthy enough to stand next to Sean Murphy’s other Batman work.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: Sean Murphy’s White Knight and Curse of the White Knight.

Comic Review: Tokyo Ghost

Published: July 5th, 2017
Written by: Rick Remender
Art by: Sean Murphy, Matt Hollingsworth

Image Comics, 257 Pages

Review:

I wasn’t aware of this when it was being published but having found out about it recently, I wanted to give it a read, as it unites the writing of Rick Remender with the art of Sean Murphy, whose Batman: White Knight was one of the best comics I’ve read in the last few years.

Also, this kind of borrows from anime, manga and Philip K. Dick stories. It has an Akira meets Blade Runner feel even if the story is wholly original and its own thing.

Remender, overall, penned a good and engaging story. It took a few issues for it to click for me but even if it started out a bit slow, Murphy’s art held my attention.

As the plot builds and this universe gets richer and more complex, you do find yourself immersed in this world. And frankly, that’s what you want from a comic book and Remender did his job.

My only issue with the plot is that the two young lovers’ codependency sometimes felt a bit overbearing. However, it’s kind of supposed to, I guess, as it is a big part of who the main characters are and where they need to go in their lives. There are lessons to be learned within these character flaws and Remender succeeded in bringing the lovers’ story to a proper close by the end of the ten issues.

I liked the villain, the plot twists and the neo-noir vibe that really channels classic noir narrative tropes.

The story does have a lot going on and that may be jarring early on, as things seem to jump around a lot, but it all comes together rather well.

Sean Murphy recently stated that he’d only do art for stories he writes going forward. However, it’d be cool to see him team up with Rick Remender on another project in the future.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other comics written by Rick Remender and other comics with art by Sean Murphy. Also, it’s influences like futuristic anime, manga and the stories of Philip K. Dick.

Comic Review: Detective Comics, Issue #27 – Special Edition

Published: July 23rd, 2014
Written by: Bill Finger, Brad Meltzer, Scott Snyder
Art by: Bryan Hitch, Bob Kane, Chip Kidd, Sean Murphy

DC Comics, 34 Pages

Review:

This was a cool comic that was given away for free back in 2014. You can actually still get a free digital copy of this on Comixology, if you have the app.

The first third of the comic is a reprint of the first ever Batman story, which appeared way back in 1939 in Detective Comics issue 27. For those who have never read it but are big fans of Batman, it’s definitely worth a look, as you can see how the character started out and how it contrasts how he has evolved over eight decades.

The rest of this single issue comic is comprised of two modern stories, the most important of which is a re-imagining of the original Batman story.

The last tale in this, gives a sort of futuristic look into where Batman could go, decades from now.

This is short and a pretty quick read. But it’s a really cool release for those of us who love Bats from every era.

The early Bob Kane art is neat to see in the first part and the art in the modern stories is really good.

In the end, this is just a cool comic to add to your collection, especially since it’s free.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other old school Batman stories from the Bob Kane and Bill Finger era.

Comic Review: Batman: White Knight

Published: October 9th, 2018
Written by: Sean Murphy
Art by: Sean Murphy

DC Comics, 224 Pages

Review:

Spoiler alert: this gets a perfect score.

The reason why this gets a perfect score is that you just don’t read comic book stories this great anymore. It almost feels as if we don’t deserve something this good in this day and age. And, I guess, one could say that maybe its greatness is magnified by an industry that is struggling to put out exceptional work but I don’t think that it is. I think that White Knight, regardless of what era it came out in, is a true masterpiece of the comic book medium.

Sure, time will tell how this holds up over the years but I don’t need time to tell me that this most certainly will be held in the same regard as Batman classics The Long HalloweenThe Dark Knight Returns and Year One. In fact, I would say that this beats two out of those three.

Sean Murphy weaved a tale that exists in its own continuity but at the same time, he wrote a Batman story that was respectful to the franchise and all the characters within it. I love when someone can find a way to utilize all the major villains and Murphy did just that, without having this become a convoluted mess. His idea in how to include them all here was actually kind of genius.

This also does a fine job in breaking down the dichotomy that is Batman and the Joker and asks the question, “Is there even a dichotomy?” Delving deeper than just that, this examines the Joker, Batman and Harley Quinn’s psyche in new ways that really make this book smarter than the average bear while making these old characters feel fresh. Basically, Murphy found a way to explore these well-known characters and brought something new and intriguing to the table.

Finishing the story, it’s hard to pinpoint who the big bad is here. Is it the reformed Joker? Is it Harley pulling strings? Is it the new villain: Neo Joker? Is it Batman? Is it the GCPD? Is it Gotham City itself? There is a lot to interpret here and there isn’t a clean answer any which way you could go.

Murphy also gives back a lot of fan service in including certain characters from other mediums and beloved Batmobiles of yesteryear, among other things. But it’s never fan service just to get brownie points, he created the right sort of situation where all of it just works really well.

I loved the idea of the GTO (Gotham Terrorist Oppression Unit) and how Nightwing and Batgirl were used. I loved how the story worked for the entire Bat-family, especially the stuff regarding Alfred. All the Mr. Freeze material was also wonderful. There is just so much to digest and dissect here but all of it is good.

Sean Murphy also did the art and I loved his work. All in all, this really is his creation and it’s a damn fine creation at that.

This limited comic series is pretty close to perfect. There’s nothing I would change or alter about it and frankly, I want to read it again.

Rating: 10/10
Pairs well with: the best of the best classic Batman stories: The Long HalloweenDark VictoryYear OneThe Dark Knight Returns, etc.