It seems more and more these days that every big Batman comic revolves around The Joker is some way. He’s obviously the most infamous in Batman’s Rogues Gallery, and the one most people would list as their favorite villain. But over the last handful of years, The Joker has become so intertwined with Batman, that he is always the root of the story. And it’s getting really boring and predictable.
Batman and Joker’s relationship has been a staple of the comics for years now. A writer’s new twist on how Batman created Joker by accident, or that they need each other, or they are the inverse of each other. At this point we’ve seen pretty much every conceivable variation on it. But that doesn’t mean that it is a bad thing, it’s just that we need a bit of a break.
Batman White Knight takes the Batman Joker variation and gives it a pretty interesting, if not predictable twist. Batman chases down The Joker on his latest crime spree and corners him in a medical drug facility. Joker then goes on a rant about how Batman abuses his power and vigilantism and then makes Batman force drugs down the Joker’s throat, making him almost overdose. The drugs change Joker’s mind and revert him back into Jack Napier. While rehabilitating in jail, Jack Napier stands trial, and uses his new found sanity to basically get acquitted and instead put Batman and the Gotham City Police on trial.
While this is going on, Batman is also dealing with the failing health of Alfred, who is now barely being kept alive thanks to his uneasy alliance with Mr. Freeze. Freeze is helping Batman keep Alfred alive because of an old Freeze/Wayne family connection, and will help Batman’s butler and Bruce Wayne no matter what.
Jack Napier and Harley Quinn are back at their loft and Harley is trying to get Jack to admit that he’s just pretending to be changed, but Jack seems firmly planted in the idea that there are two different people living in his body. Jack Napier is the sane one and Joker is the psychotic killer we all know. It has a very Hulk like quality to the transformation and reveals that Jack/Joker are split personalities.
Jack convinvese Gotham that Batman is really the villain, through several elaborate circumstances and revealing Gotham has a hidden reserved fund fueled by taxpayer’s dollars to account for all the damage Batman does chasing down super-criminals, and the city basically starts to turn on Batman. Commissioner Gordon also starts to question Batman’s motives and weather or not bringing in Batman would be the right thing to do.
The comic gets a bit disconnected between Batman and Jack, and Batman and Gotham, and Jack and Gotham even further, when Harley is revealed to be a secondary Harley. There are two Harleys; and the original one is taking back Jack because that’s the person who she really fell in love with. The secondary Harley is so upset and still in the “Mad Love” version, that she will stop and nothing to snap Jack out of it and revert himself back to The Joker. New Harley, now calling herself Neo Joker, then starts a plan to use an old massive Freeze gun to get Joker back, and Original Harley helps Jack create a plan where they use Clayface and the rest of the Rouges Gallery to turn the city on Batman and lock him away in Arkham.
I won’t go into much more detail, because it’s long and complicated, but also because that’s when the comic really picks up. The two different Harley idea is interesting, the way Clayface is used is so twisted and interesting, that it needs to be read to really see it for how awesome it is, and the way Gordon and the rest of Gotham shows that they are fed up with Batman having a blank check to do whatever he wants is really the bigger storyline.
The Jack/Joker narrative is the focal point, but I don’t really think it’s the better part of the story, as it’s very predictable where the conclusion finally ends up. But I will say, it’s a better version of that story that I think I’ve seen in a great long while, and one that is definitely worth reading.
The whole White Knight story, and it’s companion piece, White Knight – Harley Quinn are spectacular, and a great pair of great Graphic Novels. I’m surprised that I haven’t really heard anyone talking about this series at all, and the artstyle is phenomenal. It’s very classy, and the nods to all the Batman designs are littered throughout, especially in the use of all the different batmobiles; tying in the ‘89 version into the story really makes it stand out as how much love the writer really has for Batman. White Knight will go down as a top recommendation for anyone wanting to have a great Batman story to read.