WARNING: This issue contains spoilers for Batman: White Knight #6 by Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth, in stores now.
Ever since the start of its run, Sean Gordon Murphy’s Batman: White Knight miniseries has featured some elements familiar to fans of the live action Batman films. No, we’re not talking about Christopher Nolan’s dark and gritty trilogy, but those that came before.
In the universe of this comic story, Joker’s real name is Jack Napier, just like in Tim Burton’s ’89 Batman film. Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon form the extent of the Bat-family, as they do in Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin, while Bruce Wayne works with Mr. Freeze to help save the life of a dying Alfred, as well as Nora Fries.
What’s more, the most recent issues of the series feature the use of a gigantic ice gun that is used to freeze the entirety of Gotham City, similar to the way Freeze’s plot unfolded in Batman & Robin. But nothing can compare to one of the most memorable aspects of Burton’s two films finally making the leap to the comic book page in Batman: White Knight #6: The Batmobile.
The Batmobile Michael Keaton drove ranks as one of the most beloved incarnations of the classic car by Batman fans. It harkens back to a simpler time, when it was less sophisticated and armored, yet stylish, recognizable and iconic all the same. This was back when Batman drove a car rather than a tank, and through two movies, it became the quintessential cinematic Batmobile. And this is precisely the reason why this particular version of Batman’s car resurfaces in Batman: White Knight: Because of its analog nature, it’s the perfect car for a particular situation.
That situation? Taking down the Batman, of course. As the issue begins, Batman finds himself on the run from the authorities after being declared a super-criminal by Commissioner James Gordon. The vigilante’s reckless war on crime has led to too many catastrophes and destruction of property, and the city has finally had enough. Now, Batman has a special task force — the Gotham Terrorist Oppression unit — tailing him. When his current and quite modern Batmobile proves to be too much for the GTO to handle, the only solution to take the super-car out and catch the caped crusader is to set off an EMP — which would also take out the unit’s own cars.
In order to achieve their mission, they would require something that is just as durable as the Batmobile, but with none of its computer equipment. It just so happens that Dick Grayson, who is also working with the GTO, has just the thing in mind: the ’89 Batmobile, which he proceeds to steal. But Nightwing isn’t the one who drives this car to take down Batman — the honor actually falls on Gordon.
While the ’89 Batmobile has appeared in the pages of comics before, it’s never been featured as a crucial part of the plot, taking to Gotham City’s streets. Previous appearances have been limited to Easter eggs and nods, like when an artist would draw a splash page of the full Batcave, which would sometimes feature an arsenal of various Batmobiles. There have been some Batmobile designs in various series throughout the years that did seem to take inspiration from Burton, but differences were always noticeable, like the Batmobile seen in the 1992 Judge Dredd/Batman: Judgment on Gotham crossover.
However, in Batman: White Knight #6, there is no mistaking it. This is the ’89 Batmobile in all its glory, and it isn’t relegated to the background of the scene. It roars to life once more, blazing a trail through the Murphyverse’s Gotham City. Here’s hoping for a few more missions for the classic vehicle.
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