SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Batman: White Knight #1 by Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth, on sale now.
We've all seen that one couple – that couple who seemingly hate each other, are constantly fighting, maybe even hurling objects at one another as easily as they lob insults. Yet at the end of the day, the two combatants are oddly as inseparable as peanut butter and jelly, if just as messy, embracing the drama in a coldly comfortable embrace, while in the distant recesses of their minds fearing the tentative unknowns of a separated and drama-free life.
Devoted, that is, until they're not, when the day finally and inevitably comes where one decides that they've had enough insanity for one life, and decide to take that plunge into unknown waters, free of that familiar toxicity. But with that plunge often comes the launch of a new attack – free from the bonds of a relationship, a new salvo of warfare is no longer motivated, or limited, by contempt-bred familiarity. Instead, comes a new war with higher stakes – stakes that often go as high as the former partner's figurative, or literal, destruction.
Batman and The Joker: The Ultimate Dysfunctional Couple
Yes, we've all seen that one couple, if not in real life then in the pages of some of our favorite DC Comics stories over the past seven-odd decades. Batman and The Joker have long embodied the relationship of that mismatched twosome, a pair of opposites seemingly attracted by their outward disparities – Batman's dark, grim, but ultimately heroic nature has always been perfectly countered by The Joker's comedic but sinister villainy. The Dark Knight has plenty of other villains in his rogues gallery, and The Joker has gone up against other heroes from time to time, but like a pair of married couples switching partners for a single night out, it never really gels. Batman versus The Joker has always been the main draw – the attraction that readers want to see the most, in all its violent and dysfunctional glory, with Batarangs and Joker smoke bombs flying.
Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth deliver just such a superhero vs. supervillain pseudo-lovers' quarrel in Batman: White Knight #1, but it's not just any quarrel – it's the final battle between two unhappy partners in a domestic relationship that's long been broken. It's a game-changing confrontation that heralds the inevitable and dreaded conclusion that no one wants to face – as one side goes too far, it forces the other to make permanent and lasting move. However, despite what you might have expected, here it's The Joker making the first pivotal move – an attempt to cure himself of his insanity, to essentially try and light a spark in their dynamic – but it's met with resistance by Batman. Like half of a couple taking it upon themselves to unilaterally change in an attempt to better a relationship, Joker's actions inadvertently only worsen it, ultimately leading to what can fairly be described as a superhero/supervillain divorce.