Sean Murphy has been writing and illustrating Batman: White Knight, an eight-issue story that takes the Joker and places him as the protagonist in a standalone story within the DC Comics continuity.
Murphy will be taking us to a Gotham City, closer to the reality we live in today – daily concerns are about inequality and institutionalized injustice in society. The crazy villains we are all familiar with in comics are not a problem for Batman but a result of the Caped Crusader’s so-called heroics.
“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. 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,” said Sean Murphy.
We can expect a new, fresh take on Joker – a Clown Prince of Crime who has been reformed into perfectly sane, contributing member of society. This new Joker starts to recognize how Batman is not an effective solution to the city’s problems and actually contributes to a vicious cycle that leaves Gotham worse each time around. Joker ultimately takes matters into his own hands and runs a political campaign against Batman.
“Frank Miller modeled him after David Bowie. Chris Nolan showed him as a controlled sociopath. I see the Joker as Don Draper,” said Sean Murphy.
This interpretation reminds me a lot of when Lex Luthor ran for President, which challenged the Man of Steel on a new level because it was completely legal and there was nothing Superman could do.
“It’s sexy to think crime can be stopped with a fist, but the real solution is a lot more boring than that: education, increasing wages, and building trust,” said Sean Murphy.
The realism in this story is what attracts me so much to it and I am excited to pick up my first issue this fall. Scott Snyder has briefly touched on real life matters throughout his run of Batman, focusing on how Batman needs to stand for more or the people of Gotham need to take responsibility. But Murphy’s Joker flips this and declares Batman to be what is wrong with Gotham.
While Batman beating the snot out of evildoers is what sells comics, the real lesson remains that it is realistic, slow actions that can actually improve the situation in cities like Gotham, or Baltimore, Chicago, or New York. Who knows, maybe the clowns in office are the ones who will save us, not a vigilante in leather.
Batman: White Knight will be available on October 4.