By Ben Snyder
Joker-centric stories have left a long legacy of being some of the best stories told in the Batman canon. Dating to older series such as A Death In the Family and The Killing Joke to more modern interpretations such as Scott Snyder’s Endgame arc and Brian Azzarello’s Joker mini-series. This theme has even infiltrated other mediums as many consider The Dark Knight to be one of the greatest superhero films of all time. While not quite on par with many of these classics, Sean Murphy’s Batman: White Knight still has been an enlightening read and delves deeper into the relationship between the Joker and Batman. Batman: White Knight #3 continues the story as Jack Napier, and Harleen Quinzel dig deeper into the corruption of Gotham in an attempt to oust Batman, and while it does continue to be a good read, entry #3 suffers mainly because it doesn’t offer any further insight into the mind of Jack/Joker.
Sean Murphy continues to explore the scenario of what would Gotham be like if someone with the Joker’s level of intelligence and passion fought for the good guys. Murphy’s script continues to provide a thought-provoking take on everything we thought we knew about the Joker as well as a using Jack Napier as a stand-in for the 99%. Personally, my favorite parts of the previous issues were when the reader got insight into the Joker’s previous obsession and infatuation with Batman. It’s been brought up before in previous stories but few made it as intense, and Murphy has. Unfortunately, in this issue, Murphy forgoes that plotline and instead focuses on the aftermath of the Joker and Jack Napier.
Jack’s plan of distracting the GCPD and Batman while he digs up files proving the corruption of the GCPD works predictably successful, and while it progresses the plot forward, I feel like it takes away a lot of potential insights into the minds of the other Batman rogues now that there is no Joker. I’d love to get more horror stories from villains such as Poison Ivy and Bane as to how the Joker betrayed them and how they react to Jack. However, they are no mind controlled and act, as mindless puppets, therefore, making them seem like mere pawns. I understand this story is about the Joker/Jack, but it still seems like a disservice to Batman’s other enemies who all have such strong personas.
I also don’t really understand the concept of having a second Harley Quinn. Harley is a character solely created to show the damage the Joker can do. She is a poster-child for domestic abuse and I love the way that other DC comics have portrayed her as more independent so I loved how in issue #2, Harley was the one to betray the Joker. However, having a second Harley seems like a cheapening of the character. Simply put, there can be only one Harley Quinn. It is not a rotating roll. Because of this, I don’t particularly like how the second Harley is going AWOL or what her plan is. Obviously she is the wildcard in this series and her future is unknown. Hopefully, her actions in future issues justify her existence.
It will be interesting to see how Batman acts in future issues now that Alfred, his moral compass, has died. We are going to see a Batman truly unhinged now and the thought of that makes me very excited. I loved Tim’s story of how Alfred was the one to stop him from running away. It simply bolsters this stories main argument, that Batman alone is not good for anyone, he needs restrictions placed on him.
Sean Murphy’s art is phenomenal as always in this issue. There are very few creators in comics today who excel in both art and in their prose, let alone have the two work together. Murphy excels particularly in faces. He does such a good job in having his characters express emotions such as rage and shock. Two examples of this are when Bruce awakens to find that Alfred has saved his life and when Batman and Gordon are talking. Murphy’s use of shadowing also is a highlight in these scenes. In one, Bruce is distraught, he lost his closest ally and friend and you can tell how much he is grieving. While in the other, Batman looks like a feral beast. Once again supporting the premise of just how unhinged this man is.
Batman: White Knight #3 continues Sean Murphy’s delving into the ins and outs of the Joker. I want it to be clear that this issue and the overall story are still extremely good. It’s not very often we get an undertaking of this magnitude and Murphy’s unique art style and writing prowess seem tailor-made for this story. However, I think it is only fair to judge this story in comparison with other stories of its ilk i.e. The Killing Joke or Joker and in this instance, this issue simply doesn’t hold the same level of prestige. There is however, definite signs of improvement for future issues and hopefully, this grand story comes together in a fittingly chaotic and beautiful way.
Batman: White Knight #3