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Batman: White Knight #1

Title: Batman: White Knight #1
Sean Murphy
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth
Letterer: Todd Klein
Publisher: DC

I love a good speculative story, and Sean Murphy’s new miniseries Batman: White Knight offers a fascinating take on the Batman mythos. Featuring a reformed Joker as the protagonist and Batman as the deranged psychopath, this comic has the potential to stand alongside iconic elseworld tales like The Dark Knight Returns and Superman: Red Son.

The debut issue sets up the backstory as Batman’s violent methods and vigilantism are called into question by Gotham’s citizens, after he nearly kills Joker while the GCPD stands by. Murphy uses this as an opportunity to draw parallels between this scenario and the problems our society faces with police brutality and race relations. Add to that a drug which Batman shoves down Joker’s throat, which thus provides a catalyst for his reformation.

It may sound a bit heavy-handed, but Murphy does a great job producing a gripping narrative, and weaving in the political themes naturally. Ultimately this book is a character study from Joker’s point-of-view, examining what would happen if he were reformed and whether or not Batman exhibits a sort of co-dependency toward their conflict. The writing is a sort of poetic noir, while the art combines the grit of Brian Bolland’s style with the best aspects of the classic animated series. A splash page of Jack Napier (Joker’s original alias) in his room even features images of the cartoon designs from the 90s.

White Knight is a must-read for any Bat-fan. Balancing superior storytelling with a provocative socio-political message, Murphy knocks it out of the park once again.