Writer: Sean Murphy / Artist: Sean Murphy / DC Comics
It’s refreshing to read a Batman title less about him than those close to him he affects. As the series continues its gradual transition from Batman as the good guy, to Batman as the public menace who’s lost faith in his partners, the city of Gotham, and we the readers, this issue likewise transitions its attention to those other characters. And while featuring all the usual suspects with their newfound skepticism in the Dark Knight — Nightwing, Batgirl, Commissioner Gordon — the stars of this issue are the two Harley Quinns, the original and the Neo Joker version, as they step into the spotlight. As the saying goes, “behind every great man is a great woman”, these are the two women who are sort of bifurcated around the Joker in the most interesting of ways: one is trying to build him up to embrace Jack Napier, the other is trying to tear him down to get back “The Joker.” Meanwhile, both show an incredible amount of insight into Batman and the Joker as the people who know them best after seeing the two men war against each other for years.
“I know you’re a good guy,” Harley Quinn tells Batman after he comes to convince her of Jack Napier’s evil. “But being a good guy doesn’t mean you always know what’s best for Gotham.” That line summarizes the beauty of this issue, and on a larger scale, this series. Batman is further off the rails than ever before and, for the first time, someone can rival him with an alternative, the only person who’s as big a figure as he is.
The first half of this issue sets up the emotional tension between Batman and those slowly turning on him — including, dare I say, all of us reading — and the end is another fast-paced mess of chaos as Batman goes super vigilante, playing into Napier’s hands with a level of disregard that was once admirable, but now seems short-sighted and the very stubbornness that can make him lose Gotham for good. Overall, this series continues to be the most clever spin on Batman I’ve read in a long time. Batman: White Knight is a beautifully dark and emotional thrill ride for not only Batman, but all his closest characters.
Reading Batman: White Knight? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.