At this point in time, Batman Elseworld stories are a dime-a-dozen. We’ve seen them all ranging from Victorian Gotham to 200 years in the future and bar minor costume changes, very little is changes.
Attempting to break the mould with a truly ‘off the world’ storyline is Batman: White Knight. Telling the tale of what would happen if The Joker became a good guy, this has the potential to offer insight into whether Batman is truly needed or if there is someone who could do a better job.
But is it any good?
That’s what I’m here to find out! Throughout this review, I’ll be telling you whether Batman: White Knight is worth picking up. There will be some spoilers so it may be worth skipping to the score if you want to remain unspoiled.
With that out the way let’s dive into Batman: White Knight.
‘You Had Your Chance’
Opening with a chase between Batman and The Joker than nearly levels half of Gotham, it’s clear that the tête-à-tête between the two is getting out of hand. When footage of The Dark Knight beating the Clown Prince Of Crime to a pulp, goes viral, the world starts to question the two on a lot of levels.
Those who’ve read Batman: Secrets will find familiar ground here, however, the book diverts from that story completely when The Joker goes sane and begins to fight crime in Gotham on his own terms.
It’s an incredible opener packed with amazing memorabilia, Easter eggs and tough questions. Watching The Joker go on his arc of redemption is incredible and the storyline had me gripped instantly. Never before had I questioned how much of a danger Batman may be to the world but the creative team does a phenomenal job of making us doubt The Dark Knight and if the book’s concept intrigued you, you owe it to yourself to pick up these opening issues.
‘My Name Was Joker’
It’s fascinating watching The Joker adapt to normal life and seeing his plan play out will hook you right in. He makes the people hate the Bat by getting them directly involved in something they already detest, paying tax. The Joker showcases how much the damage wrought on by The Caped Crusader is costing the city and this turns the public completely against him.
Amidst all this is the death of a long-time Bat Family member and I absolutely loved watching the writers live out their wildest dreams and pile pressure on our hero till he was at a breaking point.
Joker becomes a politician and it’s easy to draw up similarities between his ghastly persona and Donald Trump. He manages to rally the people together and it’s a pretty inspired turn in the work. However, there is a slightly nonsensical element that comes in the form of Harley Quinn. They do something with the character that is quite baffling and it completely took me out of the book.
In the end she becomes the main villain in the form of Neo Joker. The finale is fully fixated on her when it should be focused on the relationship between Batman and The Joker. It’s this books wildcard element that will either work in some people’s eyes or derail their interest slightly.
For me, it was the latter and it’s a shame as there’s still a lot to like here, it’s just marred by this rogue element. It plays into the plot too heavily and unfortunately drastically lowered my opinion because of it.
‘Tell me who Batman is’
When the GCPD hire Nightwing and Batgirl to work for them, they put the pressure on to finally reveal Batman’s identity. When both refuse they instead ambush The Bat and take him down as a team. It’s a phenomenal chase sequence that really elevates the book over its more cumbersome parts and I loved watching multiple versions of The Batmobile tear through the streets of Gotham.
They manage to capture The Caped Crusader and with him out of Neo Joker is able to make her final play. It forces Batman and The Joker to work together in order to save the city.
In the final issue, there are some brilliant moments that see The Joker battling between his two personalities but the graphic novel relies too heavily on nostalgia and once again reuses the Batmobiles of yesteryear which takes away from the magic of them that was so prevalent earlier. If they had been used sparingly the mystique would remain but the book uses them several times and it almost becomes a case of ‘been there, done that’ by the story’s end which becomes slightly mundane because of it.
As the graphic novel wraps up we are teased some interesting aspects but as there is no sequel currently announced for this the cliffhanger feels somewhat unfulfilling and overall doesn’t end up being the correct conclusion for the book in my opinion.
White Knight is a triumph in some ways and a disaster in others. The art is flawless and old-school fans will find a lot of enjoyment in seeing their favourite elements of the Bat-universe make an appearance here. However, the creators make some strange choices that even under elseworld circumstances had me scratching my head.
Conceptually it’s brilliant but execution wise there are missteps that stop this book from becoming the absolute classic that it definitely had the potential to be.
This is a case of close but no cigar and that’s why it gets an…