Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Sean Murphy
Artwork: Sean Murphy, Matt Hollingsworth (colours)
Release Date: 6th December 2017
It took me a second reading in order to fully appreciate it, but the third issue of Sean Gordon Murphy’s Batman: White Knight takes you in a very different direction from the previous two. The tone has shifted back to action this issue, but the story still keeps up with the ever present theme of consequence in a manner that makes you question everything you thought you knew about the Bat characters.
It starts off with someone I thought to be throwaway character, a replacement Harley who Joker didn’t even notice had replaced the original. I originally thought it was a bit of a parody of the Suicide Squad’s version, but Murphy has brought her back with a mission to bring back the Joker we all know and she loves.
The action then cuts to the Joker’s mind controlled gallery of Batman rogues wreaking havoc in Gotham Central, where the Bat family takes Bruce’s lead and follows them to a library. To the surprise of Batman the building is destroyed and Bats himself is injured chasing Bane and Croc into the Wreckage. The rest of the issue deals with the aftermath.
We learn that Joker planned this all along to discover the Gotham secret that is “the Batman Fund”, three billion dollars a year of tax payers money going towards the damage inflicted by Bats’ war on crime. Not only this, but we learn that Batman knew about this all along, further catapulting him from the readers good books. Murphy has a very unique take on the characters here, even slight changes in their origins have huge impacts on their interaction with each other and the plot. Take Dick Grayson, for instance. We learn that he was the second Robin after the demise of Jason. Imagine all the spite and loneliness that slowly turned Jason into the red hood, and now transfer that to Nightwing. How would that affect the dynamic between who we thought was the favourite son and a Bruce plagued by loss?
I was surprised with this issue, and I’ll admit that I almost didn’t like it at first. In many ways it made me feel as brutally uncomfortable as I did reading the Batman Who Laughs, almost more so. Not just because it continues to paint my hero Batman as the villain, but because of the fact that Jack Napier (aka Joker) makes against the Bat is too bloody convincing. I want to hate him because he’s the Joker, but Murphy tugs at your heart strings and makes you see the real story beautifully well. The change in Grayson shows how single-minded and isolated Bruce really is, trapped in his privileged world fighting his own war at the expense of the lives of others – a war that ruins the lives of the underprivileged, allows the rich to capitalise on their misfortune and breeds cops who glorify violence and villains that wouldn’t otherwise exist.
Not only that, but Napier is winning. We’re seeing a Joker freed of his only two weaknesses, his insanity and his love for Batman. Every move made by Gordon or Batman has been planned for and used against them, all to advance Jack’s plans. And I honestly can’t even tell you what those plans are besides get ridding of Batman. The events of this issue have left Gotham on the edge of a knife. We know that Batman will fall from the first issue but will he take Gotham with him? Does Jack really have the best intentions for the people of Gotham? Will Batman ultimately save the day? And more importantly, do we even want him to anymore?
[Click to Enlarge]
The writer of this piece was: Indiana “Indy” Marlow
Indy Tweets from @smokingpunkindy