Why White Knight’s “Murphyverse” is an Absolutely Explosive Take on the Dark Knight

Jose Carlos Serrano

    Sean Gordon Murphy absolutely remastered the character of Batman when he released critically acclaimed, “Batman: White Knight” back in 2017 under DC’s prestige format “Black Label” line of comics. Exploring an alternate timeline where the Joker is cured of his madness and becomes Jack Napier, he begins his campaign to repair an exhausted, corruption-ridden Gotham City. The true enemy of the book however, is Batman, where he himself is on the verge of losing his own sanity. With Batman being Gotham’s “Dark Knight,” Napier decides to become the city’s “White Knight.” In addition to a captivating and original story, Murphy’s artwork is simply incredible and is completely fitting to the mature, gritty, and graphic story at hand. His art is unique, immensely detailed, and dark. What was most interesting was the way the book dealt with real world issues. Tackling the idea of Batman being accountable for the damage and deaths caused by his reckless behavior in the book, elites taking advantage of his war on crime creating the “Batman Devastation Fund,” and how the city has been overrun with racism at its core. Charting to the grand finale that shows what happens when Batman goes over the deep end and the trust that begins to loosen within his own family. The book was met with incredibly positive feedback and reviews from top critics as many of them, like myself, were simply blown away by this take on the Dark Knight, setting a standard for books to come. 


A sequel released in the summer of 2019 titled, “Curse of the White Knight” discusses the character Azrael and the great secret or “curse” behind the Wayne family.  Murphy reinvents the character Azrael as well who was introduced back in the 80’s in his debut comic, “Sword of Azrael.” The character soon of which making a notable appearance in the 90’s “Knightfall” comic series. We see a more human-side to Azrael here which offers a new level of understanding of him for the audience. Like the first, this book was met with an incredible amount of glorious reviews and feedback and the secret that Murphy has here to his success is bringing forth things that the readers have never seen before. His way of reinventing characters, bringing new personalities or perspectives to them, is really what makes his books so interesting and timeless to read. Due to both books being an immediate success, DC comics decided to give Sean Murphy himself his own universe, titled the “Murphyverse”. This includes tie-ins, mini-series, and additional books to the soon-to-be White Knight trilogy as Murphy himself has announced a sequel to be released known as “Beyond the White Knight.” As of now, the latest book in the universe has been a tie-in novel known as “White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn” which talks about what happens after two years since “Curse” and what Harley Quinn is doing all from her perspective. It’s this sense of having an almost infinite amount of stories to be told in one universe, with so much to explore within each character keeps the “Murphyverse” engaging and intuitive as well.
    What made White Knight so special as well as the other novels is the psychological and emotional journey it was for all the characters. Not every panel was bombarded with Batman mowing down enemies or throwing them out windows and such, but more on the effect that Batman’s legacy has had on Gotham, Bruce Wayne himself, and the Bat-Family, which is something that is quite rarely tried and mastered as well as Sean Murphy has done. It added a sense of realism to the story where every fight scene or confrontation mattered and made sense and wasn’t bogged down by having the entire book literally be Batman attacking criminals with no context. We saw a new side to Batman that really hasn’t been discovered before. The grief that he deals with, the struggles of being Batman, and even making the right choices that won’t cause harm to innocent people or Gotham – and it’s with these themes that the Murphyverse really shines. It’s the balance of Batman being a hero or a villain, what decisions he makes, and the lasting effect that it’ll have.


With more stories on the way such as a Batgirl and Nightwing spin-off series within the same universe, it’s almost impossible to not be excited for what’s to come. Sean Murphy himself has even suggested that at some point he might add Superman and members of the Justice League as well so there is definitely a lot to come in the future. I’m personally curious to see how the League is implemented into the Murphyverse and if it’ll still retain the same gritty, grounded feeling that its predecessors had to it. 


    Collectively, Sean Gordon Murphy’s White Knight Saga is a definitive classic and my personal favorite Batman novel. With a captivating cast of characters, a focus on the psychology behind Batman and his actions and how that loosens the trust with the people he cares about, as well as the absolutely superb artwork, this book is a must-read for anyone. Murphy’s masterstroke of genius in creating White Knight will be definitely and always remembered in the Batman anthology of the greatest stories ever told and is worthy of being in the collection of the best graphic novels and storytelling. 


*All images used are the credit and property of DC Comics, the DC Brand Name, and Sean Gordon Murphy