WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Batman: White Knight #8 by Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth, in stores now.
Does Commissioner Jim Gordon know who Batman is Bruce Wayne?
That's one of the biggest question that plagues the Batman mythos. Some believe that Jim has never known the truth, because Bruce has always been adept at hiding his secret identity. Others believe Jim has always known, but that he chooses not to say anything because he believes in Batman and what he represents to Gotham City. Then, there are those who think that Jim could know, but that he subconsciously chooses not to. Each and every one of these theories has been explored in the comic books, making all of them, in some form or another, plausible.
But we've never gotten a definitive answer, most likely in order to keep the status quo of DC continuity intact. However, certain graphic novels, movies and out-of-continuity comics have played around with the idea over the years. Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises saw Batman give enough of a hint to Jim Gordon for him to figure out who he was, and Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns showed us Wayne and Gordon as retired old friends, talking about the simpler days of Gotham and crime-fighting. There is also the Batman: Arkham Knight video game, where Gordon was forced by the Scarecrow to unmask Bruce Wayne.
In Batman: White Knight #8, the final issue of a series which takes place outside of the main DC Rebirth continuity, writer/artist Sean Murphy chooses to explore a different kind of moment between the two longtime allies. In this issue, Batman unmasks, right in front of James Gordon.
In White Knight, Murphy told an ambitious story where a reformed Joker, now going by the name of Jack Napier, attempted to save Gotham City by following the law. He turned the city against an increasingly reckless and dangerous Batman, becoming a politician who tried to build a better city for everyone. His means were perhaps not the straightest, but his goals certainly were. This all led to Batman becoming public enemy #1, with Gordon going as far as declaring the Dark Knight a wanted super-criminal.
However the arrival of a new villain, the Neo Joker, posed a threat to everyone. White Knight #8 sees Gordon, Batman, and even Napier all put their differences aside to save the city from being completely frozen. Although the odds are against them, they come out successful, and Batman emerges out of the experience with a changed outlook on his process and his methods. Somehow, Napier was able to make Bruce realize that putting on a mask isn't the only method to affect change in his city. In order for the city to trust Batman again, and more importantly for Gordon to trust him again, they need to know exactly who he is.
Gordon, being the good friend he's always been, objects at first. But Batman tells him that trust needs to go both ways. For this alliance to continue, and for the betterment of Gotham City, everyone needs to know.
There, in Jim Gordon's office, Batman pulls off his cowl, and reveals himself as Bruce Wayne. The miniseries ends with the reveal, and we don't actually get to see Gordon's react -- but at the same time, we don't need to. We know Gordon has always been a trustworthy ally, and will continue to be one. It's up to the reader to imagine if he chuckles and says, "I should have known," or if he answers with, "I always knew."
But that doesn't matter. What matters is that Bruce Wayne finally reached a new level of trust with the greatest ally he has ever had in his war on the criminals of Gotham City. And it's about time.
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