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Ages 13+ | Batman: White Knight (DC Comics)

Batman: White Knight
Published by: DC Comics - Black Label
Written by: Sean Murphy
Illustrated by: Sean Murphy
Format: SC, 232 pages, Color, $19.99
ISBN: 9781401279592
Ages: 13+

Review

Set in a Gotham city where Batman looks more unhinged and less like a hero than ever,  Batman: White Knight positions the Joker as the more likely hero of the story.  In fact, the Clown Prince of Crime might have even outsmarted himself this time.  After a situation at the beginning of the story where Batman’s vigilante tendencies go about 100 steps too far for even Commissioner Gordon and the GPD, the Joker looks more like Batman’s victim than Gotham City’s leading villain. 

In fact, the intense initial interaction between Batman and the Joker is so impactful the Joker wakes up a new man, calling himself Jack Napier.  Claiming to be cured (and surely acting and looking the part due to Murphy’s superb storytelling and darkly gorgeous and pitch-perfect Batman art) Jack Napier is now a social servant out to save Gotham from its true enemy: The Batman.  The Batman, Napier argues, is the crucial link between corruption and villainy in Gotham and with his intellect now channeled for good and heroism he can rely on his quick-witted nature to expose the dark side of Batman so long left unleashed and untamed in Gotham.

As the delineating lines between what makes a hero and what makes a villain become more and more blurry throughout the story, Napier’s influence spreads. Reunited with his longtime partner Harley Quinn, Napier launches a plot to expose both himself and Batman for who they truly are deep down inside.

Elements of Story

Plot: After waking up in the hospital after an interaction with Batman, the Joker finds himself cured of his insanity.  Now sane, the Joker launches a vast plot to expose Batman as Gotham’s true villain, and Jack Napier (Joker’s new chosen name) as its future hero.

Major Characters: Joker / Jack Napier, Batman, Commissioner Gordon, Harley Quinn, Batgirl, Robin, Bullock, Alfred Pennyworth, Gotham Insider News Reporters, Victor (aka: Baron Von Fries) and Nora Freeze, Clayface, Killer Croc, Two-Face, Bane. Lt. Duke Thomas, Penguin, Thomas and Martha Wayne, Poison Ivy, Jason Todd, Mad Hatter

Major Settings: Arkham Asylum, Wayne Manor, Gotham City, Gotham Insider News Station, Gotham Court, Zoinko’s Joke Shop, Joker’s Library, Alfred’s Gravesite, Backport, Gotham City Police Department, Batcave

Themes: Identity, Heroism and Villainy, Law and Order, Politics, Transformation and Rehabilitation, Loyalty

Lesson Plan Recommendation Using the

Common Core Standards (CCSS) for Young Adults

Common Core Standard(s)

Craft and Structure:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.8.6

Analyze how differences in the points of view of the characters and the audience or reader (e.g., created through the use of dramatic irony) create such effects as suspense or humor.

Directions for Lesson Plan

In order to analyze the two key points of view in the story, readers can track both Batman’s and Jack Napier’s perspectives by relying on Stephen Toulmin’s theories on persuasive writing.  During the mid 20th century, Toulmin outlined how to analyze the three key points to any person’s point of view.  Both Batman and Jack Napier have specific claims, grounds, and warrants that support their points of view. 

  • What are claims?  Claims are the point someone is trying to make.  A claim answers the question: “What is your point?”
  • What are grounds?  Grounds are the evidence that support a person’s claim.
  • What are warrants?  Warrants are inferential connections that tie the claims and the grounds together.

Below is an example of both Batman and Jack Napier’s claims, grounds, and warrants at the start of Batman: White Knight.  After reviewing the example, readers can continue to track the two main characters’ perspectives by filling out the graphic organizer that outlines their evolving claims, grounds, and warrant throughout the story. 

  Claims Grounds Warrants




Jack Napier




At the beginning of the story, the Joker is not quite Jack Napier and claims that he can expose Batman’s over the top vigilantism.

To support his claim, the Joker provides evidence that Batman is unhinged and dangerous by leading him through a chase through Gotham that ends in Batman hurting some Gotham citizens, GCPD, and eventually an assault on the Joker. Because Batman was willing to hurt innocent people in order to capture Joker (and also hurt the Joker) Batman proves himself to be taking his vigilantism too far.




Batman




At the beginning of the story Batman has had enough of the Joker’s pranks and tricks that endanger Gotham.  In fact, Batman is prepared to chase him down at any cost in order to save Gotham from any future Joker-based criminality. The intense and dangerous nature of the chase Joker leads Batman on through the streets of Gotham serve as Batman’s evidence of needing to take the Joker down at any cost. Batman believes that because the Joker led him on one of the most dangerous chases through Gotham the Joker deserves to be caught at any cost. 




Jack Napier




     




Batman




     




Jack Napier




     




Batman




     




Jack Napier




     




Batman




     




Jack Napier




     




Batman