Kat’s Music and Comics Corner Vol. 2 Issue #6
YOU HAD YOUR CHANCE
These words are vandalized atop Batman’s Batmobile on the cover of issue #1 of White Knight and surrounding the message is Joker’s signature HA HAs in matching red, green, and yellow. It’s a strange message to hear from Gotham’s notorious clown king, Joker, because it seems to have an underlying message that something good needs to be done and why would Joker want that? His message seems to say, “Well, if you’re not gonna clean up this city and make things right, maybe someone else will and maybe that someone else is me”. And that’s where our story begins in White Knight.
Joker has been a staple Batman character whose background story was a mystery until Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke entered the comic book universe, in which we were able to understand the whys and hows of Joker’s origin, but this first issue doesn’t so much revisit that as much as it poses something completely new (it’s actually already implied in one of the pages that the reader already has Moore’s Joker origin story in mind. There’s a page of art with pre-Joker as a comedian holding some notecards of bad jokes). What makes this comic issue so special is that it delves into the what-ifs of the Joker’s and Batman’s polar psyches. I found out about this comic because I am a subscriber of the Midtown Comics newsletter and the way it described this comic book was that the Joker becomes Batman and the Batman becomes Joker. Weird, right? I was so intrigued and had to check it out myself and the comic did not disappoint. Sean Murphy’s art and writing is an excellent example of how great a comic book can be if you put the right person behind the wheel. Matt Hollingsworth does a top-notch job with setting the depressing and dismal tone with the color palette of browns, blacks, and grays in this rundown urban setting plagued by crime and corruption. Best of all though, was one particular page that pretty much sold me on the comic because of its subversiveness. *SPOILERS AHEAD* It’s subversive because in this scene Joker has lured Batman into a warehouse filled with mysterious, unknown pills and the Joker spits out verbal vile at Batman. He refers to them as a married couple who never have make-up sex and even delves back into Batman’s dark past when Robin was killed. He’s doing his best to break the Bat and he, unfortunately, succeeds. Batman is sickened and sick of the Joker so he takes a bottle of the nearest pills and shoves the whole bottleful down Joker’s throat, forcing him to swallow them all. It’s a super intense scene (and this is just issue #1!).
From that point on chaos and disorder ensue. Joker turns sane and wants to sue Gotham City Police under the moniker, White Knight and then we get hit with that “To Be Continued…” I’m really curious to see where Murphy goes with this storyline. Mental illness is so misunderstood and I want to see from which angle he’s planning on approaching it from, especially with two iconic characters like Joker and Batman. He’s flipping everything on its head and I wonder what Gotham will be like now that the Joker is the one who stands for justice and Batman is out of control. Is the Joker really reborn anew or is this a charade? Has Batman finally been pushed too far? But most importantly, what was in those pills? I’ll continue the series and keep y’all posted if the storyline continues to progress in such a fascinating way in this journey through the psyche of hero, villain, and the in-between.
– Kathryn “Kat” Fornier