It's safe to say that Batman: White Knight offers a truly original take on the decades-long relationship between the titular hero and his greatest arch-nemesis, the Joker. The series flips the dynamic between them, with the Joker acting as the story's protagonist with the Dark Knight falling into the role of Gotham's greatest villain. It's also poised to introduce an original take on Harley Quinn, where she'll deal with the unfamiliar role of being the third part of a love triangle involving herself, her puddin' and Bruce Wayne's masked alter ego.
CBR sat down with series creator Sean Gordon Murphy at New York Comic Con to dig deeper into White Knight's topsy turvy world, where the Joker, "cured" of his madness, decides to turn over a new and heroic leaf -- much to the dismay of one thoroughly disbelieving Caped Crusader.
CBR: The Joker’s a character we’ve seen a lot of different versions of over the years. Everyone seems to have a different take on him -- and a new take on him is really what White Knight seems to be all about. How do you go about making sure your version of this character is unique?
Sean Gordon Murphy: Well, I always assumed that Joker would be way more deadly if he wasn’t crazy, you know, if he could focus and use his charm like a sort of Don Draper-type guy. I wanted set up a Gotham where that was a thing, and think about how Batman would contend with a Joker who he’s convinced is still evil -- that this is a long con -- but he’s technically not doing breaking any laws. What is he supposed to do? And that’s where it starts to fall apart for Batman.
I also felt like -- I think a lot of readers think Joker is really sexy, but it’s not okay to say that you think a total sociopath is sexy, right? So! You get rid of the crazy, and maybe this could be the sexiest Joker. Hopefully. This book will make it okay to think Joker is sexy.
[Laughs] Well, I can certainly appreciate that. I don’t think Joker is sexy, usually, but reading the first issue, he was definitely pretty spicy.
Well, I’m gonna try and convince you that the Joker is sexy!
I’m willing to be convinced, for sure!
I was gonna call the book Sexy Joker but they made me change it to White Knight.
Speaking of sexy, in the first issue you’re really playing with this very intense relationship between Bruce and The Joker --
Oh yeah, it’s a lover’s quarrel for sure.
Yeah! Can you talk a little about that and where that’s coming from?
It’s funny -- when I was watching The LEGO Batman Movie it touched on this too, so I was in the theatre like, “Please don’t steal my idea! I’m five issues in! Please don’t go down that road!” They stopped short, but I go way further down that road. Joker sees this as a lover’s quarrel, Batman sees it as a “fuck you,” and the story is basically Joker getting over the fact that [laughs] Batman broke up with him, basically.
Bruce doesn’t love Joker like the Joker wants to be loved, so --
Yeah! Joker’s like, “Why is it ending this way? I respected you so much, what was I thinking? I feel like a jilted lover.” Yeah, it’s definitely going to play into that more in Issue #2. And! Harley Quinn is coming into this, so she’s kind of caught in this obsession Joker has with Batman. It all kind of sucked her in. So there’s going to be this triangle.