The Hard Truth of Batman: White Knight 8

by Michael DeLaney

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

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Sean Murphy debuted Batman: White Knight with a simple twist: what if The Joker went good and made Batman the villain? Throughout the subsequent seven issues, Murphy added unique layers to both The Joker, Harley Quinn and Gotham City as a whole. Batman: White Knight 8 closes out the series by bringing the attention back to The Caped Crusader himself.

Murphy opens up the issue with the GTO assaulting Neo-Joker’s ice cannon head-on. The mass-freezing and subsequent mass-thawing of Gotham may or may not be an intentional reference to Schumacher’s Batman and Robin; but the spotlight is on the fleet of Batmobiles. Murphy makes functional use out of the cars: either as a battering ram or rocket boost.

When the dust (snow?) is cleared, Batman: White Knight 8 gives Jack Napier a graceful “exit” and focuses on The Dark Knight and the series’ true White Knight: Harley Quinn.

White Knight made The Joker into a semi-Two-Face with his Napier alter ego, but I think Murphy was slightly more interested in the depth and dichotomy of Harley Quinn.

Having addressed Harley’s troubling modern makeover in issue 2, Murphy positioned her as the woman behind Jack’s vision. By making Harley the puppet master (affectionately) pulling Jack’s strings, Murphy has given Harley her power back in a traditionally abusive relationship.

Now to the main event: what may be one of the most honest and important panels ever produced in a Batman comic:

For the most part Batman has taken a backseat to Harley and Jack in White Knight, but he’s been affected by it all nevertheless. He has been a rage-mad crimefighting bully, and his time in an Arkham cell has given him the clarity to realize this.

Logically we know that Bruce Wayne’s financial resources are much better suited to curb crime in Gotham than Batman’s fists are.

Batman is Batman because…he likes it. He likes the power and the simplistic view of solving a problem with his hands. And that may not be a good thing for anyone.

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