Sean Murphy’s White Knight series is coming to an end and so is the most sensitive portrayal of the Joker that DC has ever allowed. Murphy is not hiding the fact that he wants Joker to be an anti-hero and for Harley Quinn to be an actual hero. The villain of this series the Neo Joker, who started out as a Harley Quinn doppelganger and butterflied into an effective Joker simulation. Neo Joker is a pretty great villain who has the potential to be to Harley Quinn what the Joker is to the Batman or Alice is to Batwoman-the black that helps us see white. Don’t read White Knight for Neo Joker though, this series belongs to Jack Napier and the potential hurricane that is being set up for the Joker to orchestrate in the final episode.
Jack Napier has fallen in love, struggled with the monster that lives inside of him, confronted the class and race issues that trouble Gotham, and swallowed his pride and humbly sought out a partnership with Batman. The beginning of the series seemed to take the baton from the end of the Killing Joke and starts off from the question what if we as a member of Gotham were upset with a vigilante beating an unprosecuted civilian to an inch of his life. What is the Joker’s alter ego capable of doing for the city and could he do a better job of making life in Gotham better for everyone. Well apparently not because eventually the whole city is frozen over.
But the specifics of plot play second fiddle to Murphy’s modern retro stylization of Gotham and it’s inhabitants in both the way the characters have been written and the art he masterfully displays. Where his hand drawn art stops and the digital tools begin mirrors how this Gotham world feels like it could take place in the 1950’s but is very clearly set in the here and now. The military grade Batmobile that pops up I could have done without but it pushes the aesthetic out of the past which seems important to Murphy to let us know that he wants to write to us about what he sees happening in the world today. Looking forward to the last episode and more beautiful renderings of the city of Gotham and the Joker’s Bowie-esque duo eyeshades.