Batman: White Knight #6
The rise of Jack Napier, the downfall of the Batman, and the fury of Gotham’s police force continues in Batman White Knight #6, with story and pencil work by Sean Murphy and colors by Matt Hollingsworth. After Batman’s meddling in Gordon’s operation, resulting in the escape of Neo-Joker and the destruction of the Gotham bridge, the Commissioner’s patience with the Caped Crusader has reached its breaking point. The secret history of the Wayne’s relationship with Victor Fries and his family is revealed, the Neo-Joker and her band of villains make a power play using Freeze’s tech, and, all the while, Jack Napier’s control over his fragile psyche begins to slip.
There is, surprisingly, very little Batman in this issue. He is present, but he only has one line and the rest of the issue is focused the other characters. The most interesting plot to come out of this issue is the history between Victor Fries, aka Mr. Freeze, and Batman. The last issue ended on the cliffhanger revealing that the Wayne family has possible ties to the Nazi party. Fries details that his family and the Wayne’s have been connected since the Fries family defected from the Nazis. This revelation, along with other enlightenments, puts the relationship between Batman and Mr. Freeze in a completely new light. The more this story unfolds, the desire for this to be integrated into the main continuity rises, as the ideas and concepts presented here would benefit the main Batman mythos.
Sean Murphy does an excellent job of showing the lengths that the Gotham police go to capture Batman, as well as showing why it’s a bad idea to get on Gordon’s angry side. One highlight is Dick Grayson’s “contribution” to Gordon’s plan, one that is sure to have fans of the 1989 film excited. Speaking of film references, the Neo-Joker’s use of Mr. Freeze’s giant ice cannon might remind fans of another infamous film which saw Freeze use it to encase Gotham City in ice. Gordon’s plan to apprehend Batman is both ingenious and simple, displaying why Gordon has always been considered an equal, on some level, to Batman. A point of contention is whether or not to reveal Batman’s identity to the public once caught, with a surprising rebuttal from Jack, arguing that its best for him to be tried as Batman as a symbol against vigilantism.
The main strength of Sean Murphy’s story is character and that’s most prevalent with Jack Napier. He struggles with his own inner demons and his admiration of Batman, which is at the forefront in a bare-knuckled fight between the two. Even Harley, who has been his biggest supporter, feels that maybe it's time to admit this is all too much for him to handle. It feels as though he hasn’t quite stamped out the Joker persona and, with the final panel of this issue, one wonders who’s really in control.
Sean Gordon’s art knocks it out of the park again, showcased in a white-knuckled car chase between Gordon and Batman. You can feel the speed of these nuclear power cars and the pressure as they whip around corners. Hollingsworth’s coloring deserves monumental praise, as he brings this beautifully gritty tone to the comic that shows the darkness underlining the narrative.
There are two more issues left in this mini-series and, with this issue, it's clear that there are more twists and mind-blowing reveals on the way. It's hard to predict how this story ends as so many different outcomes are possible. Batman White Knight #6 continues the unique battle between the Joker and Batman with maturity and grace. As the story races to it inevitably bombastic conclusion, if you’ve haven’t caught up now, this is the time do it.