Batman: White Knight by Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth
This review contains a spoiler free review first followed by the summary. Stop before then to avoid any spoilers of this fantastic DC comic book!
Spoiler Free Review
The Joker has been represented in countless ways. There is no wrong way to write the Joker and that’s why we keep coming back to character explorations of him. Well, some people might have examples of their least favorite Jokers but I still wouldn’t say they’re incorrect. But Batman: White Knight shows us a totally different side of the madman, the healthy side.
Turns out Joker just needed to take his meds this whole time. He is just a regular guy named Jack Napier underneath the clown facade. This newly reformed Gotham citizen is on a mission to clean up Gotham for good by ridding it of their number one villain, Batman.
I’ve been saying for years that Batman is a bully. Most of us realize that Bruce Wayne could do an endless amount of good with his unlimited funds. This would be far more helpful than beating up drug dealers in the middle of the night but that’s not the life he chose. He likes being violent, driving fast, and living a double life.
If we’ve learned anything from the real world it’s that the richest man in the world, you know the one, cannot also be sane or good. Power is more important than helping people and Bruce Wayne has it from every direction. Why would he give that up? My understanding is that power is addictive and just leads to needing bigger sources to get that fix. It’s not enough to be Bruce Wayne he HAS to also be Batman.
Batman: White Knight forces him to face his true motives and what his effect on Gotham has actually been. We see a new side to Joker, yes, but we also get to see the true dark side of Batman. We get to see the destruction his high speed chases have caused and all the people he’s hurt along the way.
This limited run is an incredible read full of action, political commentary, romance, and great art. It shows what happens when people finally stop with the hero worship and start to see beyond the mask.
It also allows for redemption. Joker doesn’t have to stay a villain and when people trust that he’s changed he creates a lot of good in the world. Most people do deserve a second chance and Joker earns his in Batman: White Knight.
Batman: White Knight Summary
White Knight starts off with a high speed chase as Batman is determined to finally catch Joker. Joker is taunting him saying that he’s the true hero of Gotham, Batman is actually the villain. He claims that he can prove it if he only takes his medication.
Batman, in a furious rage, grabs the pills and force feeds all of them to Joker as Batgirl and many other bystanders look on in horror. This will not turn out to be good PR for Bats.
The footage of this event is leaked and the media begins turning against the Caped Crusader. Joker awakens from his medication induced coma in Arkham Asylum. He’s no longer Joker, he’s just Jack Napier, average mentally healthy citizen who is very prepared to sue the Gotham City Police Department (GCPD) for brutality.
Napier is released because he’s no longer insane and for once he didn’t actually commit a crime. His first stop is to apologize to Harley Quinn with a proposal. Things get briefly confusing in this scene. He proposes to Harley and she refuses to accept that he’s cured, she wants crazy psycho Joker back. Then another Harley shows up to accept his apology and proposal.
Turns out, while Napier was fully psychotic original Harley got fed up and left him. She retired from being a menace and another woman stepped in to fill her shoes. Joker was so far removed from reality that he didn’t notice.
Original Harley, Harleen, loves Napier and tolerated Joker, she’s welcoming and accepting of his flaws but very relieved to have him healthy. She is a psychologist after all.
Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne is working with Mr. Freeze to cure Alfred of an illness that has him on his deathbed. Mr. Freeze also helps Bruce see how much Batman was actually hurting Gotham. His selfishness in wanting to be the lone hero was doing far more harm than good.
Napier wins his lawsuit and gets a huge settlement. He invests it in a low income community on the outskirts of Gotham by building them a brand new library. Unfortunately, he doesn’t trust that this will be enough to win favor so he uses mind control powers to start getting other villains to join his new cause.
As Napier begins his life as philanthropist and begins running for city councilman, Jim Gordon is being pressured to find anything to arrest him for. He refuses, he’s a straight shooter and not corrupt like the rest of them.
Napier and his loyalists are holding a peaceful protest when Batman shows up to beat the ever-loving crap out of him. Once again, not a good look Batty.
The GCPD is getting to the point where they have no choice but to work with Napier and turn their backs on Batman. Napier wants to use the Batman fund to fully fund the GCPD. Why should one lone vigilante get a Batmobile and all the cool weapons and body armor? He suggests using the fund to give proper supplies to all the officers and to integrate Batman into the official payroll so that he’ll be held accountable for his actions.
Pause here to think about how great of an idea that is and how anyone who opposes it is insane.
Well, Batman opposes it. Of course he does. He’s insane! He likes beating people up for fun and driving fast and creating mass destruction without any consequences.
Napier and Gordon try to approach the problem by first convincing Batgirl and Nightwing that it’s a good idea. Batgirl is already sold, she’s horrified of Batman’s recent violence and her dad is Gordon so, y’know, that helps.
On the other side of town we have new Harley who is now calling herself Neo Joker. She wants to take up the crown as the Queen of Mayhem in Gotham. She has the other villains on her side, through stolen mind control, and they start to do some digging.
They discover that Mr. Freeze is the son of an SS Nazi scientist and that he has ties to the Wayne family. They break into Wayne manor to find some more dirt. They are surprised to find Bruce Wayne go full bat psycho on them. Gordon finally puts out an APB, arrest the Batman.
Napier is able to take Batman in and they lock him up in Arkham. Neo Joker now has access to Freeze tech and uses it to threaten Gotham.
The pressure finally gets to Napier and he begins to revert into Joker. He starts waffling back and forth between personalities.
Harleen encourages him to work with Batman and not against him in order to take down the new threat. He gives in and as they’re driving together he admits to Bats that he’s known of his identity, Bruce Wayne, for some time now.
This brings us to the action packed finale. Neo Joker loses control of the mind control and the villains are set free to fight for whichever side they choose. Harleen stabs and captures Neo Joker and Batman saves Joker’s/Napier’s life.
Napier, with fully good intentions, wants to voluntarily go back to Arkham to protect Gotham from Joker. But first he wants to marry Harleen. They tie the knot but he becomes Joker right as they say “I do.”
Mr. Freeze regains control of his tech and is able to save Gotham from an ice age as well as revive his wife. Unfortunately he’s not able to revive Alfred and he dies.
At the very end of Batman: White Knight Batman removes his cowl and reveals his true identity to Gordon. The end, but what comes next?
5/5 white knights ♘♘♘♘♘
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