The Joker Gets a New Alias in Batman: White Knight


When writer/artist Sean Gordon Murphy announced his latest DC Comics project, Batman: White Knight, he promised it would flip the Dark Knight's mythos on its head. Not only does Murphy's miniseries present a Gotham City that it terrorized rather than protected by Bruce Wayne's costumed alter-ego, White Knight presents a reality where the Joker is the good guy, dedicated to protecting the innocents in his city.

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It's only fitting, then, that the former Clown Prince of Crime shed his Joker nom de guerre in favor of something a little less sinister to go along with his new role. In a recent tweet, Murphy reveals that the iconic character will do precisely that, choosing a name which is familiar, though it's never been a part of the character's DC Comics continuity.

"Big news: JACK NAPIER will be the name of my JOKER," Murphy tweeted, along with the following artwork of the character. "Warner just approved--1st time Napier has been in a comic (minus Burton adaptations)."


Jack Napier, as Murphy alludes, is the pre-Joker name of Jack Nicholson's famous take on the villain in Tim Burton's Batman. While the character's pre-villain name has never actually been given in DC Comics continuity, the Napier name is one that many fans will immediately recognize, and offers a nice nod to one of the most influential pieces of superhero cinema of all time.

"We know the Joker is a genius, we know he's relentless, and we know he can play the crowd, so why not make him a politician?" Murphy told Wired of the Joker's new role in a previous interview announcing the series. "Frank Miller modeled him after David Bowie. Chris Nolan showed him as a controlled sociopath. I see the Joker as Don Draper."

"My main goal was to undo the comic tropes while changing Gotham from a comic book city into a real city—a city dealing with everything from Black Lives Matter to the growing wage gap," Murphy explained. "[But] rather than write a comic about the wage gap, I gave those ideas to the Joker, who leads a kind of media war against Gotham's elite by winning people over with his potent observations and rhetoric."

Batman: White Knight #1, by Sean Gordon Murphy, arrives in stores Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017.

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