It’s been a while since we’ve seen honest to goodness Elseworld-style projects being published by DC. Short of the recent Bombshells and Injustice comics, we haven’t really gotten a lot of books that specifically deal with the old out of continuity Elseworlds set-ups of “Superman but in (you pick the time period)” or “Batman, but this time he’s a Green Lantern”, etc…
But now we’re starting to see more of these, which recently kicked off with Nightwing: The New Order, and is now being followed by the oft-teased Sean Gordon Murphy project: Batman: White Knight.
The premise? The Joker is in the role of Gotham City’s protector as, after being cured of his madness, attempts to save the city from the vigilante efforts of Bruce Wayne/Batman; who he sees as an extension of the vicious cycle of crime of Gotham, as revealed in an interview with Wired.
Murphy states that the Joker is taking an all new tack in this version of Gotham City he’s building:
“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 says. “[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.”
The writer/artist’s most recent work with DC was on the Scott Snyder-penned The Wake, but he’d also undertaken a pair of collaborations at Image, including Chrononauts and Tokyo Ghost. While he has another Batman-based collab coming with Snyder that has yet to be officially announced, this is a completely solo joint for him – returning him to his Punk Rock Jesus days.
Details are still a bit sparse, we know it will launch on October 4th, though its actual number of issues have yet to be announced. But it looks as though Murphy will be bringing that same politically-tinged edge that he imbued his previous solo effort with, especially when he discusses how he plans to reinvent the Joker:
“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 said of the Joker’s new role. “Frank Miller modeled him after David Bowie. Chris Nolan showed him as a controlled sociopath. I see the Joker as Don Draper.”
UPDATE – here is DC’s full press release:
Sean Murphy’s BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT Arrives October 4
In a world where Batman has gone too far, the Joker must save Gotham City.
Superstar writer and artist Sean Gordon Murphy (PUNK ROCK JESUS, THE WAKE) brings you his tale of a twisted Gotham in a seven-issue miniseries with a massive cast of heroes and villains. BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT is told on an epic scale, but at the heart of it all is the tragic story of a hero and a villain, The Batman and The Joker. The question is, which one is the hero and which one is the villain…?
The Joker’s been called a maniac, a killer, and the “Clown Prince of Crime” but “white knight”? Never. Until now…
“We know Joker’s a genius, we know he’s relentless, and we know he can play the crowd, so why not make him a politician?” said Murphy. “Why not strip away the psychosis (the thing that’s holding him back) and let him challenge Batman unimpeded? And to make it even scarier, what if he did it legally and without breaking any rules, so that Batman couldn’t stop him?”
Set in a world where the Joker is cured of his insanity and homicidal tendencies, The Joker, now known as “Jack,” sets about trying to right his wrongs. First by reconciling with Harley Quinn and then by trying to save Gotham city from the one person who he thinks is truly Gotham’s greatest villain—the Batman.
“Seeing Gotham for the first time with clear eyes, his psychosis now cured, he starts to understand the absurdity of vigilantism and how Batman’s actions are only contributing to Gotham’s endless crime cycle,” said Murphy. “Joker sets out to beat Batman by becoming the White Knight that Gotham really needs.”
BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT #1, written and illustrated by Sean Murphy, arrives on October 4. Cover artwork by Murphy with color by Matt Hollingsworth.