The second part of Sean Murphy’s reimaging of Batman finds the Dark Knight dealing with the fallout of Jack Napier’s attempted takeover of Gotham City from White Knight.
Napier is back in the Joker’s subconscious and that leaves Joker in charge and that only leads to chaos.
And that chaos comes in the form of Azrael and Azrael brings the dark secrets of Gotham and the Wayne family to the fore.
Batman steps into the breech to bring order to his city, no matter the cost.
The Cost of Heroism
Murphy has created an intriguing alternate version of Gotham City.
The Bat-Family has been fully deputized. Mr. Freeze is a secret ally. Harley Quinn is pregnant and that’s just the beginning.
The first volume of the series, set up things and this second chapter amps up the action and the consequences.
The action picks up with Joker back in Arkham and plotting his next move. That move includes unleashing Azrael, and his team of covert operatives, on the still recovering city.
The action is fast and furious. The secrets of the city and its families lead to casualties on both sides.
I’m not a fan of the Azrael character, but Murphy’s take on the character fixes many of my issues. Making Azrael a dying vet charged with righting historical wrongs before he dies adds a sense of depth that I’ve always found missing.
Bruce Wayne also has some new wrinkles. Sure, he’s still driven by his need for vengeance, but that takes a back seat to the need to save his city and his allies.
Batman’s unlikely alliance with Harley Quinn is the highlight of the collection. Watching her turn her analysis on both Batman and the Joker is fun to watch. Even more fun is watching her flirt with the clearly uncomfortable Batman along the way.
After two dazzling series, I’m anxious to see how Murphy brings it all home in the series’ third and final version.