Jesus, where do I begin? I was so excited to read this comic because of the Harley and Batman romance, but I finished reading the comic feeling very disappointed. I honestly want to sell my copy, but I still want to read the sequel (since I, uh, bought it). I almost feel like I would have been happier if I never picked up this comic.
Note: Keep in mind that this is an Elseworld Story; meaning characters are portrayed as out of character and important canonical details are changed for the sake of this story.
Maybe I’m nitpicking, but one of the very first things that stood out to me upon reading Batman: White Knight is the choice of dialogue. Reading some of Murphy’s dialogue choices put me under the impression that he never goes outside and has no conversations with actual people.
A few examples:
A lot of the time I felt like I was reading posts on Twitter or Reddit. It was during times like these where I felt an overwhelming temptation to just put the book down. That last piece of dialogue specifically made me roll my eyes. I have never heard a boomer actually refer to liberals as “social justice warriors”. I would know this because I have a Christian, Trump 2020, etc. boomer father. He and his friends have never actually once referred to leftist crowds with that term haha.
I couldn’t stand him. I understand that this was an Elseworld story, but seeing this character portrayed in such an inaccurate way put me on the verge of laughter.
At the beginning of the story, I was unimpressed with The Joker (not Jack Napier, the actual Joker). The Joker himself wasn’t exactly inaccurately portrayed, but I didn’t quite like the artist/author’s interpretation of him.
However, the second Jack Napier appeared, my perspective completely changed. At first, I was pretty interested to see what a “good” or pre-acid pit Joker would look and act like. In a way, it was refreshing seeing him act kindly to Harley for once, but it grew old very quickly.
Though I assumed he would be a corrupt politician similar to The Penguin in Batman Returns, it didn’t take long for me to realize that this story actually wanted The Joker to go from being a psychotic madman to a social justice icon in the snap of a finger. The story seemed to make such a gigantic deal about Batman forcing pills down The Joker’s throat (what brought out The Joker’s “good” side in the first place) and destroying some property in pursuit of criminals but not about what these villains have done and actively continue to do in the first place. It honestly makes no sense for me; especially the fact that Batman was so heavily condemned for what turned The Joker into a “good” guy in the first place. Napier also puts so much emphasis on ending vigilantism for the greater good of Gotham which is a ridiculous idea. I think vigilantes are absolutely necessary, especially in the context of today’s real world. Corrupt police officers and politicians are everywhere so it makes no sense for people to be condemned for standing up against them.
Another thing I must point out is the fact that this story tried so hard to make us feel bad for The Joker. Given the story’s context, I guess I can understand why we should feel bad for Napier, but definitely not for The Joker. The writer tried very hard to make us feel pity for the Joker; two examples being when Neo Joker was telling the reader about how The Joker would cry in his sleep and when she said he “holds Gotham close to his chest” for Batman’s attention and then gives it back. First of all, who the hell cares if The Joker cries in his sleep? I wouldn’t care if any rapist or murderer cried in his sleep; especially somebody as twisted and demented as The Joker. I also think that the whole thing about him “holding Gotham close to his chest” is insanely laughable. When somebody claims that a person holds something close to their chest, they’re implying that they care deeply for it. I don’t think that you would vandalize the buildings of or murder and traumatize the people of a city you care so intensely about. You don’t. This Joker (Napier) was so horribly written that I was excited for him to die or be replaced by the actual Joker. That is saying a lot.
I feel that Batman’s portrayal in Batman: White Knight is a badly disguised insult to his character. Sure, Batman isn’t a perfect guy and goes about things in dubious ways sometimes, but in no universe should a super criminal ever be considered a better man than him. Do you think I am joking? Dick Grayson himself thought that The Joker had become a better person than Batman ever was.
The fact that even Bruce’s own supposed family turned on him so quickly in favor of The Joker (cough I mean Jack) was mind boggling to me. It made no sense for Dick and Barbara, who have been Bruce’s family and loyal allies, to just suddenly abandon him for a man who has always murdered, tortured, and blown stuff up for fun. And for what reasons? He beats these mass-murdering terrorists and maybe destroyed some property in the process. The horror! Meanwhile, Napier organized all of the villains and even a new “Neo Joker” to do all of the same exact things that the story criticized Batman for… and worse, too! The story even tried to tell us that Batman only protected businesses and the top 1% while simultaneously pointing out what a horrible person he is for breaking property.
No matter what made-up reasons existed for this scenario to come into existence, I can guarantee you that Batman would never ever be interested in helping The Joker. He especially wouldn’t refer to the Joker (or Napier for that matter) as his best friend.
I guess his only redeeming quality would be that he looks very attractive in this art style, but that’s really it.
I didn’t have a very strong opinion on this iteration of Harley Quinn or the “Neo Joker” villain. I thought that the new female Joker villain was extremely boring and lackluster. She was forgettable and this comic likely would have been better without her (bonus points for the bullshit about Joker crying in his sleep). I guess she really only existed to serve as a parallel to the actual Harley. As for Harley herself, I didn’t care about her.
The reason this comic has even a ONE Batarang rating is because of the art. It’s a real shame that it just ended up being wasted talent.