SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Batman: White Knight #5, written and illustrated by Sean Gordon Murphy, in stores now.
Batman: White Knight might be an Elseworlds-type story, but it is still one that goes to the root of the dichotomy, or lack thereof, between Batman and his nemesis, the Joker. It’s very much a modern Batman tale, and while its story is a bit rougher around the edges, it’s one that isn’t afraid to be socially relevant. But it also takes some intriguing and even very surprising liberties with the Batman mythos. In Murphy’s hands, the Dark Knight is more brutal than ever — so much so that he’s as much a danger to his city as the criminals he pursues.
Issue #5 is where the city finally declares that it has had more than enough with Batman’s vigilantism. With Jack Napier’s increasing rise to political power, Batman’s once-celebrated star has been on a free fall. Now, he’s been declared a super-criminal by his once-friend and ally Jim Gordon. And somehow, this is the least of his problems. Shortly after Gordon’s shocking statement, Bruce makes a startling discovery about his family’s past, and it’s one filled with potentially disastrous consequences.
As the newly-appointed alliance of vigilantes and police officers embark on a high-speed chase with Neo Joker, Batman, blinded by rage and desperation, crashes the party. With his own particular brand of recklessness and aplomb, the Dark Knight ends up creating a collision that levels a Gotham City bridge. This very turn of events is one too many for Commissioner Gordon, who up until then had tried to defend his longtime friend. But this was, for lack of a better term, a bridge too far. Now, Gordon has no choice but to declare Batman a super-criminal, and an enemy of the city. Now, the former hero has no choice but to run from the city he has sworn to protect.
But this isn’t even the full story, nor the worst that Bruce undergoes in this issue. In fact, the real reason he was so fervently chasing after the Neo Joker was because she had broken into Wayne Manor to steal something valuable — something Bruce didn’t know about, kept hidden in a secret room he had no idea about. Although Neo Joker was looking for an edge in her war against Jack Napier, she stumbles onto documents that shed new light on the Wayne family’s history.
Thanks to an old picture, Bruce learns that not only was Victor Fries aka Mr. Freeze a nazi, so too was his father, Thomas Wayne. This revelation is appropriately shocking to Batman, who had no idea of his father’s true beliefs or allegiances. There is definitely a story behind the story here, as this development is clearly tied to the main conflict of the series. Fries has had a presence in the comic series ever since its beginning, and now we have just learned that his impressive weaponry is part of the Neo Joker’s plans for Gotham City. Whatever the connection between Fries and Wayne is, it goes deep into Gotham’s roots — and it just might affect its future.
This is the type of answer that only comes with a slew a new questions. Now, Batman has become everything he has ever hated, just as he discovers that his father was not what he believed. These are enough to shatter his foundations, and we can only wonder how much further down the rabbit hole this will lead him.
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