SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Batman: White Knight #1 by Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth, on sale now.
We’ve seen it countless times on the news and on social media – a bystander captures a pivotal moment on video when those serving on the right side of the law inflict questionable and violent actions upon those who aren’t. In that moment, public perception of both sides is upended, as criminals become sympathetic victims and those pursuing them now find themselves vilified.
Such is the premise of Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth’s Batman: White Knight #1, where Batman and The Joker find themselves caught up in the very same kind of role reversal, and when years of reputation, good or bad, suddenly mean nothing when a few atypical but game-changing seconds of video go viral.
The Joker: Hero For The Criminally Oppressed?
In the real world, such incidents generate headlines, discourse, and demonstrations for a time, but often fade into the background as fresher news captures the public’s attention – or until another such incident takes place. In White Knight, though, timing and circumstance enable The Joker to seize the moment – a moment where his beating and seeming poisoning at the hands of an adrenalized Batman turn public opinion against the Dark Knight – and transform it into a potential movement, proclaiming his victimized self as Gotham’s co-called White Knight. There are no larger-than-life figures in real life, but the beginning of The Joker’s transformation from criminal to hero heralds a kind of galvanization of such a figurehead in Gotham – one who can take a high-profile stand against so-called good guys who abuse others.
Video of a perpetrator with a criminal record, who’s pursued by police and suffers a beatdown after breaking into a pharmaceutical warehouse, might make the evening news for a few nights here on Earth Prime – maybe. But if that perp is The Joker, and that beatdown is committed by Batman, and the perp is force fed a lucky concoction of pills that cures his condition, well – that’s sure to make the Channel 52 News. In our world, crooks who are victimized thusly aren’t cured of their criminality, but in the world of comics, happy coincidences abound, and a villain who ends up getting cured by the actions of the very arch-nemesis many believe is trying to kill him is the stuff of fairytales. Born out of such tragedy, The Joker stands to become the kind of White Knight that the real world could never possibly deliver.
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