WARNING: This issue contains spoilers for Batman: White Knight #6 by Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth, in stores now.
Batman: White Knight, written and drawn by Sean Murphy, has flipped the mythos of the Dark Knight on its head. In this Elseworlds-esque story so far, Murphy has shaped Bruce Wayne as a violent and out-of-control anti-hero that’s been pushed to his breaking point, both mentally and physically, by a rehabilitated Joker who decided to go by his real name of Jack Napier after being cured thanks to some mystery pills.
A clean and sane Napier then concocted a very cerebral political campaign to show that the concept of Batman is the real cause of criminal behavior in Gotham, turning a vast majority of the city’s inhabitants against the masked vigilante. This included the likes of Jim Gordon, Nightwing, Duke Thomas and, to some extent, Batgirl, who all joined together as a task force to bring Batman in alive, all in the hopes of still saving him.
Issue #5, however, dropped a big bombshell. The Neo Joker (the second Harley Quinn aka Marian Drews), Gotham’s new terrorist threat, uncovered a dark secret of the Wayne Family in the form of an old photograph showing Bruce’s father, Thomas, seemingly partnering up with the Nazi, Baron Von Fries (the father of Victor Fries aka Mr. Freeze). Issue #6 goes on to clarify though that despite the impression given by the picture, Thomas wasn’t a Nazi after all.
In this issue, we see Gordon engaging Batman in a high-octane car chase, which leads to Napier subduing the Caped Crusader in a brutal fight. Napier’s squad then places the battered and bruised Batman in Arkham Asylum, even going so far as to protect his identity, before turning their gaze towards arresting the Neo Joker. Her threat manages to come full-circle almost immediately, though, as she uses a huge freeze cannon (weaponized Freeze-Tech called “Paperclip”) to shoot the walls of a skyscraper and etch her demands: “Send Joker” — as she’s still bitter from their failed relationship. As Napier reluctantly decides to revert to his demented Joker persona to oppose his former partner, we then see Batgirl trying to ascertain more information about the cannon, which sheds the true light on the Wayne legacy.
Victor explains to her that his family was taken as prisoners of war by the Allies in World War II, which led to them switching sides to work with the Americans. They were supposed to be working outside U.S. soil but Thomas built a secret lab for them under the German Embassy in Gotham where he and Victor’s father worked on Freeze-Tech for medical purposes. This was the same technology Victor used on Alfred, who sacrificed his own life to save a wounded Bruce earlier in the series. Victor divulges that his father and the Allies ended up having sinister intentions, with both turning on Thomas because they wanted to weaponize the technology, and he didn’t. This led to Bruce’s father getting kicked off the project. Victor, however, joined him after chastising his own father and deciding to work with Thomas on peaceful projects.
Clearly, Thomas kept true to his family’s honor, integrity and overall legacy as folks who wanted to make the world a better place. Most importantly, Victor also reveals to Batgirl that he relayed this truth to Bruce after the Batman confronted him with the photograph at the end of Issue #5. So while Bruce may be imprisoned for now, no matter what the future holds, he knows that his family weren’t traitors after all.
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