BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT
Writer/Artist: Sean Murphy
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth
Letterer: Todd Klein
Cover Artists: Sean Murphy & Matt Hollingsworth
Rating: 10/10 Batmobiles
What happens when a Gothomite decides to take a page from J. Jonah Jameson’s book in a different universe and label Batman a menace? What happens when that very same person turns out to be his greatest villain, the clown prince of crime himself, Joker. A story where the whole battle of good and evil between these two getting flipped was an alluring draw when this series was first announced back in 2017. The oversaturation of Bat-titles hadn’t quite hit me yet and this felt like an Elseworlds story to look into. I was blown away when I first read this series and revisiting it again, I found myself just as impressed. Warning. The spoiler signal is going up.
He’s The Baaaaaaaat Guy
A Batman story beginning like so many others, the Dark Knight chasing down one of his many villains. On this day it’s the Joker. Already, it begins to feel like a fun Batman read I would expect to enjoy. That is until Murphy gets the gears turning in my brain through Joker’s dialogue, pointing out the reckless destruction and abandonment for others that Batman displays while in pursuit. Come to think of it, maybe driving cars over rooftops is not a heroic thing to do. Joker gets his punch line across when he finally points out that the biggest joke that Gotham hasn’t gotten yet, was that Batman was just as much of a villain as he was, if not worse. Point proved when we see Batman shove mysterious drugs down Joker’s throat while everyone watches.
Look Who’s Better Now!
It’s the Joker, or formerly known as the Joker, as Jack Napier is cured of everything that made him the supervillain. With newfound clarity, Jack sets out to save Gotham by bringing to light corruption in the police force, the dangers of allowing Batman to dole out vigilante justice and revealing the greed and control over Gotham the 1% have gained because of this. Crazy to see the most feared man in Gotham become the most loved. He’s not alone though as he true partner in crime (but not literal), Harley Quinn with him.
Things are looking bright for Gotham’s future as Jack and Harley become civic heroes, win over the GCPD by creating a new task force for stopping supervillains with the help of Batman’s former proteges and, arresting the ever increasingly unstable Batman. The only problem is when you break things off with a different Harley Quinn (Hot Topic Quinn) due to mistaken identity (and newfound sanity), you better believe that you and by proxy Gotham, aren’t walking away from that break-up unscathed. The only thing Jack can do is slowly give up his sanity and work alongside his once greatest enemy to save the city they both love so much.
Sean Gordon Murphy succeeded at making Batman: White Knight one of my favorite DC stories to come out more recently. He delivered a story that tackled a lot of different topics in this one, from social issues to mental health, and balanced it all in a well-paced story. By the end of this read, I had a new perspective going into other comics when it comes to our favorite heroes saving the day. Though Batman wanted to deny the truth Jack Napier brought to light, Murphy gave it great pacing to still have that conflict between Bruce and Jack that led to acknowledging a failing system as well as a method to combat crime.
Along with this great story that was put into these eight issues, Murphy also did the art himself with the help Hollingsworth on colors. I gotta say, I feel like Murphy’s vision felt fully realized with him doing both art and story. This series is full of so many panels that give off body language and facial expressions that drive home so many of the emotions that are felt with the characters in this book. The two biggest moments that stood out to me were Harley’s story of why she left Jack so long ago and the loss of Alfred for Bruce.
Murphy gave us these emotional backgrounds that built up to each scene’s moment where he transitioned all the weight from his dialogue to letting the art on the panels deliver the emotional gut punch. You see the heartbreak of someone who made themselves so vulnerable to the Joker, and you see the same as someone who lost someone who cared for them in Bruce and Alfred’s last moment.
There are as many Batman titles coming out as there are crimes in Gotham it seems sometimes. It might not be easy to be there for everyone, but Batman: White Knight is a shining bat signal that I’m happy pierced the sky and caught my attention. I hope it caught yours too and you give this one a read.