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Comic Book / Batman: White Knight

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"Face it. The greatest villain in Gotham City is you!"

"I love Gotham, and it's time I paid her back for the debt owed by the Joker. The city deserves better than you, better than the Joker and better than the Dark Knight. So I'm going to be her White Knight."
Jack Napier

One day, when chasing The Joker throughout Gotham City, Batman takes his vigilantism a bit too far, having little regard for how much damage he causes as long as he catches the Clown Prince of Crime. The Joker ultimately lures him to an industrial building storing some mysterious pills, and convinces him to brutally shove the pills down his throat for all of Gotham to see, effectively curing the clown of his insanity. Once recovered, the former criminal, now known as Jack Napier, decides to take matters into his own hands and give Gotham the future they deserve — by becoming the city's White Knight.

Written and drawn by Sean Murphy, Batman: White Knight is a non-canon eight-issue miniseries running from October 2017 to May 2018, focusing on the redemption of Jack Napier and the struggles of the eponymous Dark Knight. It was later folded into the DC Black Label imprint with its first graphic novel printing.

Followed by several sequels that collectively referred to as the Murphyverse including:

Batman: White Knight contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Deviation: In this continuity, Jason Todd was Robin before Dick Grayson. Jason also wasn't killed by Joker, but ran away and made Bruce think he was dead because he came to hate Bruce for making him Robin in the first place. However, it's clear by the end of Curse of the White Knight, when he, now an adult and former soldier, agrees to meet with an imprisoned Bruce that he's likely ready to forgive him.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The story appears to take place in a blend of the Burton/Schumacher films and the Animated Series, with bits of The Killing Joke, Injustice: Gods Among Us, and The LEGO Batman Movie in there for good measure.
  • Adaptational Hairstyle Change: The Arnold Wesker version of the Ventriloquist is normally depicted as balding and clean-shaven. In this continuity, he has a full head of hair and a mustache.
  • Adaptational Heroism: The Joker. No, really. While not much of Jack's past is shown, this version of the Joker is far less malevolent than his mainstream counterpart. Even before the Heel–Face Turn, this Joker didn't seem to focus on using death as a cruel punch line and was more focused on being the Clown Prince of Crime than a Monster Clown. Before he became the Joker, Jack was just a country kid looking to make it in the big city, disillusioned by how it wasn't as exciting or wonderful as he thought it was. He tried to be a comedian, but that didn't work, so he put on makeup and turned to crime. Not long after, Batman showed up and made the whole thing a grand adventure for him. While the mainstream Joker sees Batman as part of his act and a Worthy Opponent, Jack was more like a Loony Fan of Batman's and saw being the Joker as a way to get close to Batman.
    • What really demonstrates how less horrible this version of the Joker was is the fact that the police have very little evidence of serious crimes on this Joker. Gordon stated that Jack never assaulted the other patients or staff while in Arkham, and it was when Harley Quinn suspected that the Joker killed Jason Todd that she left him. Lastly, Harley states that "[The Joker is] a narcissist that suffers from dysthemia and a schizoid personality disorder. Likely made worse by a chemical imbalance, which is why the medication is working.", while the mainstream Joker is a Psychopathic Manchild that kills on a whim and loves the sound of people screaming in terror. Seriously, this version of the Joker seems saintly compared to the mainstream version.
    • The source of this part of the adaptation is hinted at in the Seven Batmobile Squad. The TV Batmobile is present, meaning that elements from the much wackier cheesier Joker are involved.
  • Adaptational Karma: In Batman: The Animated Series, Pierce Chapman colluded with Veronica to humiliate the Penguin but even though he got kidnapped by the Penguin in retaliation, he was still rescued by Batman from execution and didn't have to pay any long term consequences aside from a little humiliation. In White Knight, right after Bruce finds out Pierce is profiting from his war on crime in crooked real estate practices, he floors Pierce with a powerful punch and knocks out his bodyguard for good measure.
  • Adaptational Nationality: Victor Fries is German in this story (much like his 1966 incarnation), and Nora is American. She's even got a new surname: Smithstein.
  • Adaptational Nice Girl: In Batman: The Animated Series, Veronica Vreeland was the Rich Bitch and occasional Jerk with a Heart of Gold but most of the time could be a privileged, bratty socialite who got away with her bad behavior because of her wealth and connections. In White Knight, while it's not clear just how much she's involved with Pierce's unethical real estate dealings, Veronica manages to be a little smoother around the edges, as there's less focus on her being The Load who causes Batman and the city trouble because of her bourgeois, freewheeling ways. Additionally, she gets mad at Pierce when he gets drunk and insults Alfred right in front of Bruce, coming across as a bit more understanding and compassionate towards Bruce as a friend than in the original series.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Pierce Chapman was a huge Jerkass in Batman: The Animated Series for the way he plotted with Veronica to humiliate the Penguin but technically, his only crime was being a male equivalent to the Rich Bitch. In this series, he's outright profiting from Batman's war on crime by making millions off real estate, buying real estate just after a "Bat Impact Zone" is declared in a poor neighborhood and then flipping it after the taxpayers foot the repair bill. He also manages to be a far worse person than his original incarnation, drunkenly insulting Alfred right in front of Bruce and then having his bodyguard get in front of Bruce to prevent any potential retaliation (not that the bodyguard did much good once Bruce really got mad and decided to lay out Pierce and his bodyguard).
  • Age Lift:
    • Victor Fries is in his eighties, with he and Nora having been frozen five decades before, and off-handedly mentions that he used to work for Thomas Wayne as well. His true age is revealed when the side effects of their reverse-engineered restorative fluid cures him, but brings his body up to speed. In Issue 4, it's elaborated that his father was a Nazi scientist who entered into a partnership with Wayne Enterprises after coming to America with young Victor.
    • Duke Thomas is now old enough to have been a Lieutenant and runs Backport's youth center.
    • Being that he was the first Robin, Jason Todd is a grown man in his early 30s, older than Dick Grayson, still in his early 20s, and is a former soldier-turned-prison guard.
  • Anachronism Stew: The timeline of the story can be rather confusing. Thomas Wayne was active as a businessman during World War II. Batman has been operating long enough that he has decommissioned "analog" Batmobiles (such as the one from the 1989 film}. However, things like smartphones, social media, and the phrase "SJW" also exist, making the ages of certain characters very hard to pinpoint.
  • The Atoner: Jack Napier wants to make up for his past as the Joker by becoming Gotham's White Knight. At the end Batman wants to atone for his brutal methods, giving the keys of the Batmobiles to the GTCO and reveals his identity to Commissioner Gordon with plans to reveal it to the public to get them to trust him again.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Marian Drews, Mad Hatter, and Poison Ivy search Wayne Manor for a "secret room," implying they've discovered who Batman is and is searching for the Batcave. It turns out they're actually looking for Thomas Wayne's secret study.
  • Badass Biker: Nightwing rides a bike during his vigilante activities.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: When cured, Jack Napier ditches the childish clothes he wore in the beginning and dons much more stylish clothing and combs his now brown hair. The colors associated with being a Secondary Color Nemesis are also downplayed, limiting them to his neckties.
  • Big Bad: While the story starts with the conflict between the reformed Jack Napier against Batman and the GCPD, Marian Drews gradually ends up in this role after becoming the Neo Joker.
  • Bittersweet Ending: A story like this isn't likely to have a completely happy ending. Jack Napier and Batman save Gotham, but ultimately, Jack is going to revert back to being the Joker. Jack decides to wed Harley before he can completely revert. Unfortunately, he reverts moments before he says "I do" (though Joker does say it, albeit while screaming and laughing in Harley's face). Harley reveals her entire scheme to Batman, and hints that Jack may not be completely gone. After some reflection, Batman and Gordon discuss what they learned from the whole experience - Batman confesses that he has a self-righteous sadism streak, but Gordon notes that while they've both screwed up, Gotham still needs Batman, and thanks to Napier, they've realized the flaws in the system and can work towards fixing them. To atone and restore everyone's faith in him, Batman decides to hand over the keys of the Batmobiles to the GTO and reveal his secret identity to Gordon and later the public.
  • Bond One-Liner: "I'm sorry, I'm all out of ice puns."
  • Boxing Battler: Harleen mentions that she knows how to box, and later uses some of those skills to train Jack.
  • Broken Pedestal:
    • Following his increasingly unhinged rampages across Gotham to chase villains and butt heads with Napier, Nightwing and Batgirl eventually quit being Batman's partners and join up with the GCPD, though they still hide their identities.
    • Napier reveals that on the night the Joker tortured Jason Todd, Jason tearfully confessed that he wished he never met Batman or Bruce Wayne. Napier further explained that Jason has become so hateful of Batman at that point that he faked his death
  • Composite Character: Suicide Squad Harley Quinn is trying to becoming the new Joker after she feels that Jack Napier has betrayed the same concept of Joker.
  • Cool Car: The Batmobile, of course. The prologue shows that, at some point, Jack Napier acquired ownership of the vehicle.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Neo Joker, aka Marian Drews, who met the Joker after the first Harley had already left him. He robbed a bank where she worked as a teller, but when the Joker put a gun to her head and threatened her life, he had no idea that he was actually saving her. Earlier, Marian had slit her wrists, waiting to bleed out as she served client after client. But the threat of the Joker made Marian realize that, more than anything, she wanted to live. In order to stay alive, she helped the criminal rob the bank, at which point he thanked her, called her "Harley", and bandaged up her wounds. He gave her a reason to live and a reason to be happy; for those reasons, she simply didn’t want to leave him. Instead, she became the new Harley Quinn, albeit a different version — her own version. She's fully aware that this is likely a case of Stockholm Syndrome, but she simply doesn’t care because the Joker gave her happiness. With the Joker gone and Napier in his stead, Marian has lost the source of her happiness, forcing her to adopt a new villainous identity in the hopes of drawing the Joker back out — and with him, her reason to smile once more.
  • Dark Secret: Mad Hatter and Marian Drews discover in the stolen files of the GCPD that Thomas and Martha Wayne had deals with the Third Reich. It's later revealed that the Waynes were actually part of a precursor to Operation Paperclip and left the project in protest when the focus moved away from medical breakthroughs to weapons development.
  • Decomposite Character: Played with. It turns out that the original Harley Quinn and the New 52 Harley Quinn are in fact two separate people. This decomposition seems to extend to their personalities, with the New 52 Harley, Marian Drews, taking on the majority of Harley's negative traits like her dependency on the Joker while Harleen Quinzel becomes more of the clinical psychiatrist that was hinted at being buried deep underneath the Harley persona in the original animated series. However, it's also suggested this is merely the result of Quinzel reforming after leaving Joker previously—Marian even accuses her of having once been just like her.
  • Deconstruction:
    • The comic shows the serious problems having a vigilante like Batman would cause.
    • During their climactic fight, the Joker claims that Batman's vigilantism is less about justice and more about control, and adds that it's the Dark Knight's way of salvaging what's left of his soul. Another point brought up is the Disproportionate Retribution scenario of the event that cures the Joker. Joker was briefly returning to his days as an annoying prankster, merely skating around Gotham on a hoverboard and goading Batman into chasing him. Batman, with his military-grade vehicles and determination to capture Joker before he does any harm, causes more damage than the Joker does. And once Batman gets his hands on him, the beatdown is as violent as ever, if not more. Again, all the Joker did in the story thus far was screw around being a nuisance. Batman's response to this gives Gotham a wake-up call and everyone begins questioning the Dark Knight's behavior and the GCPD's aloofness towards it.
    • The series as a whole eschews the franchise's typical conceit that mental illness is in some cases untreatable and makes you a criminal mastermind, impossible to predict, or "super-sane"; instead, Joker's worsening state is shown as a slow downward spiral culminating in a desperate cry for help, and Jack publicly alleges that Arkham Asylum was a derelict piece of property renovated by the rich "gatekeepers" as a place to treat the mentally ill as prisoners rather than patients.
    • The massive amount of wealthy families still living in Gotham despite the city being overrun with crime and poverty is shown to be a real-estate scam; rich developers like Pierce Chapman buy up marked-down properties from the city in areas where Batman fights crime, then quickly flip them for profit rather than demolish them and construct something new. Pierce also mentions being an investor in Arkham Asylum, bringing the problem full-circle.
    • The Draco in Leather Pants view on Harley Quinn is given one by splitting her into two different women, one seemingly based on the controversial New 52 Harley and the other the original Batman TAS Harley. Due to her abusive relationship with the Joker, it's oft forgotten that Harley was capable of some very despicable things such as being complicit in torturing a child and driving him insane. Murphy distills all of Harley's negative traits, most of which were present in the original animated series where she debuted, into the New 52 Harley, which seems to leave the person labelled as the "original Harley Quinn" with the positive traits of Harley's occasional longing for a normal domestic life and the repressed psychiatrist personality that she abandoned to get Joker's attention—but flashbacks suggest she had more of her classic traits prior to her reforming pre-story. Ultimately, in the final confrontation between the two, New 52 Harley accuses Harleen of hating her because she's ashamed of what she used to be, a villain in love with a serial killer.invoked
    • Darker and Edgier is taken to town by this series, with multiple characters noting that even though things have gotten darker and more serious over Batman's career, they certainly haven't gotten better for anyone in Gotham. The escalating crime in Gotham means that Batman is being pushed to take more and more drastic measures, to the point where he beats his enemies half to death and they still come back for more. As well, the series attacks the idea that something being darker necessarily means it's more mature, as Batman's manchild tendencies and psychological profile are given thorough examination. Ultimately the slide from goofy crimefighting antics to taking out deranged supercriminals has done nothing to help Gotham or Bruce's psyche, and it takes Jack regaining his sanity and promising to use the legal system against GCPD for things to get any better. The point of this seems to be that the Batman mythos shouldn't abandon it's sillier side for darker stories, less they become too gritty and self-serious. After all, this is a series about a man dressed like a bat fighting super criminals. Adding to this is the Seven Batmobile Squad, which hints that this universe originally had more elements from Batman's earlier, goofier Golden Age comic stories.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: In issue #6, the problems have gotten so bad that Napier, the GCPD, Nightwing, and Batgirl all team up to arrest Batman and put him away in Arkham. Almost immediately, a new threat in the form of Neo Joker threatening to freeze the whole city to get Joker arises and forces the GTO to turn back to him to make things right, proving Gotham DOES need the Batman. Soon after, it's revealed that the Batman Devastation Fund is completely funded by Bruce Wayne and that the Waynes' collaborations with Nazis was actually a part of what would become Operation Paperclip and that Thomas was only focused on medical breakthrough, exiting once the mission turned to weapons development, taking a lot of the sting out of those previous revelations. From there onward, the book becomes a mostly straightforward love letter to the Batman mythos as Batman and his allies team up with Harley and Napier to take on the rest of his villains in famous Batmobiles of times past.
  • Double Standard: Bullock invokes this on Gordon for giving Batman a free pass in regards to the latter's brutal confrontation with the Joker, saying that if a police officer displayed similar behavior, the commissioner would have charged him/her with assault.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In a story about Police Brutality, Joker cries that he can't breathe while being beaten by Batman.
  • Elseworlds: Was announced to be non-canon due to DC Rebirth's own ongoing mystery about the Joker's real identity, which is revealed during this story.
  • The Dragon: Mad Hatter ends up as this to Neo Joker.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • Duke Thomas had formed an alliance with Bayport's various gangs due to their shared dislike of Batman and his rampages through the neighborhoods.
    • Batman and Napier team up to take down Neo Joker.
  • Escape Artist: During the GCPD's meeting with Napier, the latter escapes his cuffs during their conversation, and shows his free hands by resting them on the nearby table as he threatens to file suit against the GCPD. This trope also serves to indicate that even the police won't stand a chance against the cured Joker.
  • Everybody Calls Him "Barkeep": Despite the Joker even having a proven civilian identity here, he is still called "Joker" almost exclusively by Batman, the police, and the news media, even after his recovery.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Everyone present, including the openly hostile Harvey Bullock, is appalled when Batman force-feeds the Joker a tremendous amount of pills to the point he can't breathe.
    • Harleen Quinzel was along for the ride at first, but drew the line at murdering Jason Todd all just to get Batman's attention.
  • Evil Mentor: Mad Hatter acts as one to Neo Joker.
  • Faking the Dead: Jason Todd is still alive, but has faked his death so he would never have to see or be sought by Batman ever again.
  • Fanboy: The Joker is one to Batman. This is best shown in a panel that showcases his cell, which is filled to the brim with Batman merchandise.
  • False Flag Operation: The villains' assault on Gotham, precisely designed to make Batman look as bad as possible and further Napier's own ends. When trying to lead heavy-hitters Croc and Bane away from the more-populated areas of town, Batman drags them into Backport — already the center of controversy for how often his fights have destroyed it — and drops them off at the construction site for Napier's library, suspecting that, as Jack's secret allies, they would be caught off-guard and unwilling to damage it. The two raze the building to the ground anyway, making Batman and his crew look like they have a vendetta against Napier, and severely injuring Bruce in the process when he rushes inside after them. Meanwhile, with every precinct in the city distracted, Jack and Harleen loot the old damaged law offices of Hill & Hill, recovering documented evidence of the Batman Devastation Fund.
  • Force Feeding: Joker is cured by being force fed a random handful of pills. This turns to only be temporary and he needs to keep taking a replication of that combination of pills to avoid turning back into the Joker. It also sometimes upsets his stomach.
  • He Cleans Up Nicely: Jack Napier looks every bit the part of a dapper gentleman, particularly striking compared to the disheveled Joker. Harley also looks like a radically different person merely by adjusting her personality and donning a prim and proper dress.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • The Joker undergoes a change of heart after he's cured of his insanity.
    • Harleen when she realized the Joker was more interested in Batman than her. But it's less because of jealousy and more because Joker was willing to murder Robin to get Batman's attention.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: This version of Nightwing wears a leather jacket to complement his status as a Badass Biker.
  • Hero Insurance: Gotham secretly has such a policy, colloquially termed the "Batman Devastation Fund" by those in the know — three billion dollars per year, diverted from flood and hurricane prevention, just to fix the damage created when Batman fights super-criminals. It's eventually revealed that the policy is not billed to taxpayers, but to various companies owned by Bruce Wayne, meaning throughout the years of his career, Batman has been paying for reparations of his own rampages.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Alfred, waking to see that Bruce is grievously injured, detaches himself from the Freeze tech, hooks up Bruce to stabilize and heal him, and writes him a note goodbye. When Bruce recovers, he finds Alfred dead, slumped in the chair across from his bed.
  • Herr Doktor: Victor Fries's father was a Nazi cryonics researcher named Baron Von Fries, and his son followed in his footsteps.
  • He's Back!: Issue 6 ends with the Joker suddenly returning to deal with Neo Joker.
  • Hilarity Sues: The first the thing Jack Napier does once cured is build a case against Gotham City, GCPD and Batman, alleging Police Brutality, specifically pointing out he was riding a scooter while Batman was chasing him in an armoured car causing millions in damage and injuring at least three people, then savagely beating him while the police looked the other way.
  • Hollywood Psych: The diagnosis of Jack Napier can be considered a valid diagnosis. Except for the fact that no psychiatrist worth their degree would even say the words "chemical imbalance".
  • How We Got Here: The first few pages show Jack Napier visit Batman's cell in Arkham Asylum and ask for his help. The next page starts detailing the events one year earlier.
  • Insane No More: The Joker's psychosis is cured by Batman forcing unknown pills down his throat. The Joker goes back to his real name, Jack Napier. This is shown to only be temporary and he has to take that same combination of pills regularly to keep himself from turning back into the Joker. The original Harley Quinn explains Napier has a chemical imbalance, reminding us she is, after all, a psychiatrist.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • After Batman assaulted the Joker, a media pundit expresses disbelief that he would witness people openly defending someone like the Joker.
    • When Bruce is about to reveal to Dick and Barbara what is causing his increasing ruthlessness, the billionaire invites them to a secret room, causing Dick to wonder if Bruce owns a building that doesn't have any secret passageways.
  • Last Request: Alfred requested that Mr. Freeze never reveals Batman's secret identity.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: When Napier visits Arkham Asylum in the prologue, a guard addresses him as "Mr. Napier" just before he could address him as "Mr. Joker".
  • Lightbulb Joke: Back when he tried to be a comedian, Jack Napier had one where he asked "how many GCPD does it take to change a light bulb?". The answer is "it only takes a Batman!".
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Alfred, as usual, was this to Batman. And after his death, Barbara is afraid of what Bruce could become without any brakes.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": Everyone when Jack Napier suddenly reverts back to the Joker.
  • Mugging the Monster: A bunch of muggers undergo an Oh, Crap! once they realized they tried to rob the Joker and Harley Quinn. Besides fear towards Jack Napier's former identity, the gang is also ashamed to learn that they tried to hold up a man they respect for trying to fix their problems. Though now, it isn't the Joker they have to worry about, it's Harley who promptly takes them all out with ease.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Jack asks this after defeating Batman in a fight.
    • Harley later asks the same when Neo Joker uses Mr. Freeze's technology to demand the Joker.
  • Mythology Gag: The story is filled to the brim with references to the Burton/Schumacher films and the animated series:
    • The status quo of Batman being partners with Nightwing and Batgirl, Alfred being ill, Mr. Freeze aiding in keeping him alive, Nora Fries being frozen to keep her from dying from a more advanced stage of Alfred's illness, and Joker being Jack Napier before being the Joker is all from the original film series.
    • Victor Fries's familial ties to the Nazi Party and Adaptational Nationality as a German is undoubtedly a reference to Arnold Schwarzenegger, who portrayed Mr. Freeze in Batman & Robin and also had a father who was a Nazi in Real Life. Marian Drews eventually uses Fries's giant Freeze Gun from Batman & Robin to put Gotham under ice.
      Fries: I'm all out of ice puns.
    • Joker's cell is full of Batman merch primarily based on the designs by Bruce Timm for the cartoon.
    • There are multiple references to Batman: The Animated Series in the scene where Jack Napier visits the local Bad Guy Bar. Notably, Jack points out that every time he and the others hang out it always segues into a discussion about who "Almost Got 'Im" (to which Baby Doll softly replies "We didn't mean to", and Croc mutters "It was a big rock"). Roxy Rocket can also be seen in the background. The art style also takes heavy influence from The Animated Series, as do multiple dynamics between characters, character designs and even continuity.
    • Batman's Batsuit draws a few different visual elements from different Batsuits, like the large bat symbol from The Dark Knight Returns and the collar seen on the Gotham by Gaslight Batsuit.
    • Nightwing's appearance in this comic also harkens to Jason Todd's Red Hood outfit whenever he takes off the helmet.
    • Veronica Vreeland and Pierce Chapman appear as socialite acquaintances of Bruce, with Pierce again being the far more obnoxious of the two. Harleen also mentions having had an "incident" with her in the past over a dress, which Batman was sympathetic to and let her keep it.
    • Jack's physical transformation back into his old self as the medication stops working, where he clutches his head and begins laughing while his skin turns white, is a direct homage to the climax of Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.
    • Gordon drives the '89 Burton Batmobile during the mass police attack on Batman. Other Batmobiles, including the Tumbler and the '66 Batmobile appear as well.
    • Bane's costume is based solely on the militaristic suit he wore in The Dark Knight Rises.
    • Near the end, Baby Doll and Killer Croc are shown together and others remark on how creeped out they are at the two being a couple, a nod to the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Love is a Croc".
  • Named by the Adaptation: The Joker is rarely given a full real name because of his Multiple-Choice Past. This incarnation's real name is Jack Napier, marking the first time the full name has been used in comics outside of adaptations to the 1989 film.
  • Nerves of Steel: In the prologue, Batman sits in his cell and gets a surprise visit from his old foe, who's sporting a confident smile. Batman stands up and aggressively approaches his guest, but Jack still has the same expression he had upon entry, and proceeds to calmly ask him for a favor.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Batman force-feeding Joker the pills and Jack Napier attempting to redeem himself of the Joker's crimes leads to Marian Drews going further off the deep end, becoming the Neo Joker, and becoming a threat that both the Joker and Batman have to deal with.
    • Jack's plan to use mind-controlled villains backfires on him when he makes the mistake of leaving behind the Mad Hatter and Clayface for Marian Drews to take under her control and give herself an army of supervillains to wreak havoc on Gotham with.
  • Not in the Face!: Jack yells this while fight training with Harleen. He justifies this as due to having a public image he needs to maintain and a black eye wouldn't be good for it. Harley retorts that he's training to fight Batman who is definitely going to punch him in the face.
  • "Not So Different" Remark:
    • Harley tells this to Batman regarding him and Jack Napier—two people battling their own personal demons who want to help Gotham and are willing to break the rules to do it. He's not happy to hear this.
    • Marian says this to Harley during their final confrontation, accusing her of using the existence of Jack to cover up the fact that she fell in love with Joker first.
    Marian: I'm the dirty little reminder of what you used to be.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: By the end of the story, several aspects of this continuity's status quo are upended; Batman's proteges have joined the GCPD, Alfred has passed away, Jack Napier/The Joker and Harleen Quinzel are officially married, Mr. Freeze/Victor and Nora Fries are finally reunited (albeit aged artificially), and to top it all off, Batman himself has decided to reveal his true identity as Bruce Wayne to Jim Gordon, to solidify their trust for good.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Bruce Wayne's method of scaring away Neo-Joker and the Mad Hatter is... to barge in screaming at the top of lungs about hooligans while wearing some fuzzy pink pajamas.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Bullock gives this reaction when Napier tells the GCPD he has pictures of their Bat Signal, indicating that they're an accessory to the Dark Knight, which he can use as proof against them to file suit against Gotham's police force should they refuse to arrest Batman for his extreme methods.
    • Barbara says this much once she realize she was in her Batgirl costume while talking to Mr. Freeze as Barbara.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Contrary to her more common designs, this Batgirl ditches the cowl and is content with a Domino Mask and a pair of bat ears. It doesn't work; Mr. Freeze recognizes her after having met her as Bruce Wayne's lab assistant.
  • Parental Neglect: Dick explains to Barbara how Bruce never really seem to give him much needed parental treatment when he was still Robin.
  • Punny Name: Much like Harley Quinn, the real name of her Identical Stranger (the "Suicide Squad" version), is Marian Drews, which is a play on merry-andrew, an archaic term for a clown.
  • Race Lift: The Ventriloquist and Scarface are now black.
  • Real After All: When Jack takes mental control of Gotham's criminal underworld, Scarface's eyes glow bright green along with the Ventriloquist's.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Joker gives one to Batman where he notes that his vigilantism has led to more harm than good in that Batman has become dependent on crime, to the point that he drags more Kid Sidekicks into his war on crime, as well as more and more policemen dying for something that could have ended long ago.
  • Rule of Symbolism: During his meeting with the GCPD, the cured Joker escapes from his cuffs, and the following panel where he rests his arms on the table in front of him as he tears down Batman and the police force piece by piece makes it clear that Jack Napier has the upper hand whereas the GCPD no longer has any power over him.
  • Sadist: Batman has shades of this in this story. At the end, in a heart-to-heart with Gordon after reflecting on what lessons the whole experience with Jack Napier brought, that he's realized that his motives for his activities are not as pure as he thought.
    Batman: I enjoy hurting criminals, Jim. I don't use a gun and I don't take lives - but that doesn't always make me the good guy. Sometimes it's vindication to be as brutal as I want. And that made criminals like the Joker even worse. Sometimes I'm not sure why I wear the mask. Is it to scare them? Or is it because I scare myself?
  • Sanity Strengthening: After being cured, Dr. Leslie Thompkins notes that the CAT Scan and IQ tests indicate that Jack's intelligence scores beyond the level of genius. The first thing Jack does is spend three days in the Arkham Library working non-stop on a legal case in which he plans to file charges against the GCPD, Batman and Gotham City.
    Dr. Leslie Thompkins: And given his new-found mental capacity, I think you need to be worried.
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: It turns out that the Joker knew Batman's secret identity long before he tortured it out of Jason Todd.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Jack Napier's sanity allows him to dress much more stylishly, as opposed to the garishly dressed and messy haired Joker.
  • Taking the Heat: Napier takes full responsibility for the crimes he planned along with Harley.
  • Take That!: The comic shows one on the modern take on Harley Quinn. It turns out that the classic Harley left after Joker went too far in his obsession with Batman and an Identical Stranger took her place. When Jack returns to apologize for his actions, classic Harley returns and insults her replacement's dress and behavior.
  • The Reveal: The Batman Devastation Fund is not billed to taxpayers, but is paid for by companies completely owned by Bruce Wayne. It's also from this information that Napier discovered that Bruce Wayne is Batman.
  • Title Drop: At the end of issue 1, Napier monologues about how he will atone for his past as the Joker, and finishes by telling the GCPD that, as opposed to Batman's Dark Knight, he's going to be Gotham's White Knight.
  • Vigilante Injustice: This story completely deconstructs Batman's crusade against evil as in this story, Joker takes a drug to cure himself of his insanity and he proceeds to sue Gotham for letting Batman do what he does. Jack Napier points out that Batman damages multiple properties, uses military-grade equipment, usually beats up people with mental illnesses, and then dumps his victims in Arkham Asylum where they are treated more like prisoners than patients. Jack also discovers the "Batman Devastation Fund", where three billion dollars per year, diverted from flood and hurricane prevention, is used to fix the damage created when Batman fights super-criminals. It's eventually revealed that the policy is not billed to taxpayers, but to various companies owned by Bruce Wayne, meaning throughout the years of his career, Batman has been paying for reparations of his own rampages. While the story concludes with Gotham needing Batman, Batman reveals his secret identity and starts improving the police by sharing his technology with them.
    Batman: I enjoy hurting criminals, Jim. I don't use a gun and I don't take lives - but that doesn't always make me the good guy. Sometimes it's vindication to be as brutal as I want. And that made criminals like the Joker even worse. Sometimes I'm not sure why I wear the mask. Is it to scare them? Or is it because I scare myself?
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Harleen Quinzel deliberately kicked off events and put Joker in grave risk because she saw Batman was becoming He Who Fights Monsters and driving Joker to escalate; she wanted to break the cycle before the two blew up Gotham. Downplayed, in that she had no idea this would cause Marian to try and become a Legacy Character and she really did want Joker to be cured.
  • Wham Line:
    • "Then Joker let [Jason Todd] go." "Jason's alive?"
  • Wham Shot: Harley seems not to take Jack's return to sanity very well, outright rejecting his marriage proposal. Then the original Harley Quinn, dressed in her original uniform appears, revealing the character dressed like the Suicide Squad Harley was an Identical Stranger and an unwitting Legacy Character.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Jason Todd is revealed to have been spared by the Joker, but his ultimate fate is unknown.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • During the car chase, Batgirl calls Batman out on his increasingly dangerous driving, from jumping over a raised bridge to driving the rooftops of houses where people live in. It doesn't help that Batman won't listen to his fellow vigilantes.
    • Nightwing calls out Batman for his stubbornness concerning Jack Napier's humanitarian efforts while Batman bites back with claiming that Nightwing is only using this event to finally win an argument with him.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Jack is able to beat down Batman in a brutal fight but this occurred only after Batman had been severely injured in a Batmobile crash.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Harley and Joker's relationship fully dissolved when she came home to find him torturing Jason Todd for clues on Batman's secret identity, and the boy was gone when she returned with Batman. Jack, his memory shot and hearing this as if for the first time, is horrified to even contemplate the idea that Jason might be dead.