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Review: Batman: White Knight Presents Von Freeze

Batman: White Knight Presents Von Freeze

For those of you who are not currently reading Sean Murphy‘s fantastic Batman epic, stop reading this and go do that before reading Batman: White Knight Presents Von Freeze. Go ahead, I’ll wait. It is that good. Now there have been many many interpretations of Batman over the years. Not all of them have been good and only some of them great. Sean Murphy’s Batman is that latter category.

What makes his Batman so different? One word. History. No not the history that we have seen throughout the DC Multiverse. It’s a very specific history that he has woven. See his heroes are much more than just costumed nuts venturing in alleys and across rooftops punching bad guys. They are people. Just plain people. People that have to make difficult choices and face excruciating consequences. No different than say, you or I.

Oh sure they may have more resources and an impeccable noirish sense of style. But they are at their hearts, human. These traits that are injected by his writing. It makes them leap off the pages and feel like they are standing next to you.

To me, that is more important than any silhouette or cool (heh I promise not many freeze puns) costume. So any time a creator has the chance to build upon the world in their vision, it more often than not adds something very special to what is already there.

In Batman: White Knight there was a brief mention of some deep history between the Wayne and Fries family. In Sean’s own words this was something that was always intended for that book. Constraints forced him to leave it out. Still, he felt it was too important a story to leave on the cutting floor and he was right. So here we have it and let’s get to Batman: White Knight Presents Von Freeze.

We open up some time ago with a young child and older man being chased in the snow back in Germany during WWII. There’s a gunshot and a bleeding man. With his dying breath, he pleads to a very young Victor Fries to please take care of his infant daughter.

We cut some years later as Victor all grown up is staring at a photo reminding him of that day. He now works for Wayne Cryotech where a young scientist objects to his work.

As he tries to explain himself, he hears screaming downstairs in the lab. It’s none other than Thomas and Martha Wayne. Martha is currently pregnant with their future son Bruce but in dire straits. Thomas and Victor have to work together to get her stabilized.

Once this is accomplished, Thomas and Victor are then in the study afterward bonding over the subject of fatherhood and it is here we are treated to a very interesting backstory involving the Fries family.

I don’t want to go into details or deep spoilers though as this issue is too good to dismiss in footnotes. What follows is a very deep and sometimes disturbing retelling of some of the horrors of that time period, particularly for anyone of Jewish descent. Sure this is a comic and some of these horrors did not directly happen but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t have were the access to some of these resources available in devious hands back then.

We get background on the famous Mr. Freeze Cold gun as well as a very different interpretation in the Victor and Nora dynamic. The art is wonderful as both the artist, Klaus Janson, and colorist, Matt Hollingsworth, do a great job of presenting a palette that really showcases this story in the best possible fashion. I have been a fan of Klaus for a long time and this is some of the best work of his career.

The story beats and panels just whiz by as you become sucked into this tale page after page. In a story that I thought was going to be all about Nazi fanaticism, I am reminded to once again not judge a book by its cover. Fair warning, there was barely a hint of a cape or cowl this whole book. This at the end of the day was a deep story of two families tied together and how they move forward.

I will be honest Batman: White Knight Presents Von Freeze was not the type of content I thought DC would relegate to their Black Label imprint, but I’m glad they have. Not every Batman story need be about crazy maniacal villains or insane death plots. Sometimes they just have to be about reminded us of the very human choices we all have to make and how to overcome whatever may find us.

Story: Sean Murphy Art: Klaus Janson Colors: Matt Hollingsworth
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Batman: White Knight Presents Von Freeze #1

Batman: White Knight Presents Von Freeze #1

(W) Sean Murphy (A) Klaus Janson (CA) Sean Murphy
In Shops: Nov 20, 2019
SRP: $5.99

The world of Batman: White Knight expands with this standalone tale! On the night of Bruce Wayne’s traumatic birth, Victor Fries must intervene to save the lives of Martha Wayne and the future Batman. As the evening unfolds, Victor distracts Thomas with the incredible tale of his own father figures-one a Nazi, the other a Jew-and their complex connection to Wayne Laboratories. As the Third Reich roars into power, the deep friendship and working relationship between the Baron von Fries and his research partner, Jacob Smithstein, is in crisis. Ordered by Himmler to speed development of their cryotechnology in service of world domination, Smithstein is forced to go into hiding and compromise his moral code in order to save his wife and infant daughter, Nora, from persecution and certain death. When the S.S. ramps up surveillance over the project, young Victor begins to question his father’s true allegiance. Both families are driven toward an impossible choice and a sinister standoff, and Victor makes a pact with Smithstein that will ripple through generations.

Batman: White Knight Presents Von Freeze #1

Get an Early Look at Batman: White Knight Presents Von Freeze #1

Batman: White Knight Presents Von Freeze #1

Written by Sean Murphy
Art by Klaus Janson and Matt Hollingsworth
Cover Art by Sean Murphy
In Shops: Nov 20, 2019
Final Orders Due: Oct 28, 2019
SRP: $5.99

The Curse of the White Knight saga expands in this special interlude issue! Sean Murphy is joined by artists Klaus Janson and Matt Hollingsworth to tell the tragic tale of White Knight’s Mister Freeze. On the night of Bruce Wayne’s traumatic birth, Victor Fries must intervene to save the lives of Martha Wayne and the future Batman. As the evening unfolds, Victor distracts Thomas with the incredible tale of his own father figures—one a Nazi, the other a Jew—and their complex connection to Wayne Laboratories. As the Third Reich roars into power, the deep friendship and working relationship between the Baron von Fries and his research partner, Jacob Smithstein, is in crisis.

Ordered by Himmler to speed development of their cryotechnology in service of world domination, Smithstein is forced to go into hiding and compromise his moral code in order to save his wife and infant daughter, Nora, from persecution and certain death. When the S.S. ramps up surveillance over the project, young Victor begins to question his father’s true allegiance. Both families are driven toward an impossible choice and a sinister standoff, and Victor makes a pact with Smithstein that will ripple through generations.

Preview: Batman: Curse of the White Knight #4 (of 8)

Batman: Curse of the White Knight #4 (of 8)

(W) Sean Murphy (A/CA) Sean Murphy
In Shops: Oct 23, 2019
SRP: $4.99

After a shocking tragedy strikes the Bat-Family and Montoya takes the reins, Babs defies the GTO and goes rogue in the hunt for Azrael. When her new methods prove almost too effective, Batman intervenes-leaving Harley to her own devices in the wake of her own emergency.

Batman: Curse of the White Knight #4 (of 8)

Review: Hit-Monkey: Bullets and Bananas

He’s a monkey. He’s a hitman. He’s an assassin. He’s Hit Monkey!

Hit Monkey: Bullets and Bananas collects Hit-Monkey #1 (2010A), Hit-Money (2010B) #1-3 and Deadpool (2008) #19-21.

Story: Daniel Way
Art: Dalibor Talajić, Carlo Barberi
Color: Matt Hollingsworth, Dalibor Talajić, José Villarrubia, Marte Gracia
Ink: Sandu Florea, Juan Vlasco
Letterer: Jeff Eckleberry, Joe Sabino

Get your copy in comic shops now and in book stores October 29! To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2IWquzM
Kindle/comiXology: https://amzn.to/2qkHnxI
TFAW: http://shrsl.com/1vvkw

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Early Preview: Batman: Curse of the White Knight #4

Batman: Curse of the White Knight #4

Sean Murphy: Script, Art, Covers
Matt Hollingsworth: Colors & Cover Colors
In Shops: Oct 23, 2019
Final Orders Due: Sep 30, 2019
SRP: $4.99

DC presents the first look at Batman: Curse of the White Knight #4, the latest chapter in Sean Murphy’s epic limited series! After a shocking tragedy strikes the Bat-Family and Montoya takes the reins, Babs defies the GTO and goes rogue in the hunt for Azrael. When her new methods prove almost too effective, Batman intervenes—leaving Harley to her own devices in the wake of her own emergency.

Batman: Curse of the White Knight #4

Preview: Batman: Curse of the White Knight #3 (of 8)

Batman: Curse of the White Knight #3 (of 8)

(W) Sean Murphy (A/CA) Sean Murphy
In Shops: Sep 25, 2019
SRP: $4.99

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.

Batman: Curse of the White Knight #3 (of 8)

Review: Batman: Curse of the White Knight #1

The Joker has a secret about Batman and Bruce Wayne and he’ll use Azrael to get what he wants. Batman: Curse of the White Knight is a follow up to the hit Batman: White Knight miniseries.

Story: Sean Gordon Murphy
Art: Sean Gordon Murphy
Color: Matt Hollingsworth
Letterer: AndWorld Design

Get your copy in comic shops now! To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
Kindle & comiXology
TFAW

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Review: Batman: Curse of the White Knight #1

Batman: Curse of the White Knight #1

Batman: Curse of the White Knight #1 is the follow up to creator Sean Gordon Murphy‘s hit Batman: White Knight. As a follow up, it does it right in that you don’t need previous knowledge. While there are references to the previous volume, there’s little knowledge needed to enjoy the current offering. It’s what comics should be, open to new readers while having a “value add” to long-time readers.

I wasn’t a fan of Batman: White Knight. I felt the concept presented isn’t what was presented. The high concept never was delivered on. Batman: Curse of the White Knight #1 seems to correct that problem. It sets up a simple clash between the Joker and Batman involving the Waynes’ history and introducing Azrael to this universe.

Now under the DC Black Label imprint, Batman: Curse of the White Knight is free of the meta concept instead delivering a more classic story. There’s a lot of history building here going back to the early days of Gotham. The intrigue of the first issue is in the story not what it’s trying to do. It’s story first, concept second in this follow-up volume.

Batman: Curse of the White Knight #1 takes through the early history of Gotham. There are ties to the early Waynes’ with implications not just for Bruce but also the origin of the Joker. Its teases make it more than interesting enough to read further. Murphy references the first volume enough to really settle questions for previous readers. What’s presented isn’t vital for new readers. You can focus on the story presented without being bogged down by the previous volume.

There are some issues that Murphy has fallen in to before. The introduction of Jean-Paul Valley goes smoothly until the end. An encounter feels a bit too out of nowhere and disjointed. It’s a “go with it” moment. One that doesn’t derail the issue but feels a little out of the blue as presented. Later issues may make things clearer.

Murphy’s art is the highlight here. Along with color by Matt Hollingsworth and lettering by AndWorld Design, the comic is visually great. The design and choices deliver a world that feels like a mix of the Gotham we know and a steampunk alt-world. That’s due to its grays, browns, reds, and blacks which play heavily into the look of it all.

The comic is an improvement on the previous volume. It delivers an intriguing mystery that goes its own way while building off of the myth we already know. Cures of the White Knight delivers a straightforward Batman story that plays to Murphy’s strengths. It shows growth as a writer and how to create a new volume that’s both new reader-friendly and has a little extra for those who have been along for the ride.

Story: Sean Gordon Murphy Art: Sean Gordon Murphy
Color: Matt Hollingsworth Letterer: AndWorld Design
Story: 8.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Matt Fraction, Elsa Charretier, Matt Hollingsworth, Kurt Ankeny, and Rian Hughes Team for the Three-Part Graphic Novella, November

Image Comics has announced the first in a sequence of three graphic novellas by Matt Fraction and Elsa Charretier, with colors by Matt Hollingsworth, exquisitely crafted lettering by cartoonist Kurt Ankeny, and book design by Rian Hughes, titled November.

In November, the lives of three women intersect in a dark criminal underground. As fire and violence tear through their city over the course of a single day and night, they find that their lives are bound together by one man—who seems to be the cause of it all. 

Fraction commented in the announcement:

November is a crime thriller about three women connected by unforeseen and terrible circumstances—the kind of random encounter with chaos and darkness that upends lives without warning, walking the line between accident and catastrophe. As a serialized series of novels, the format of November gives us the space and time to explore who these women were before and after everything changed for them, in a sprawling story of chaos and coincidence where everything happens according to a pattern, but no plan ever goes off without a hitch. It’s the kind of story only comics can tell in the way only a comic can tell them, and I couldn’t ask for better collaborators than Elsa, Matt, and Kurt.

Charretier added:

Characters so alive they draw themselves, scripts that feed my imagination for days on end, November is the most challenging project I’ve worked on, and collaborating with such a talented team has been everything I dreamed it’d be.

November, vol. I hardcover (Diamond Code JUL190077, ISBN 978-1-5343-1354-5) will hit comic shops on Wednesday, November 6 and bookstores on Tuesday, November 12. The final order cutoff for comic shop retailers is Monday, August 5.

November, vol. I
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