WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Batman: White Knight #6
One of the most ridiculous parts of the movie Batman & Robin gets done right in DC's Elseworlds mini-series Batman: White Knight. Granted, the idea of freezing Gotham City with a giant ice cannon is no less insane than it was in the 1997 Joel Schumacher movie. But writer/artist Sean Murphy's comic story utilizes the infamous Freeze-scheme in a way that actually makes sense, given the motivations of the characters involved.
Considered by many to be the movie that killed the superhero blockbuster trend in the 1990s, Batman & Robin had a host of problems. One of the larger ones was that its story required the formation of a partnership between the villains Poison Ivy and Mr. Freeze. The goals of the villains were totally incompatible: Poison Ivy wanted to destroy human civilization in order to give Earth back to the plants, while Mr. Freeze was a medical doctor and cryogenics expert who stole diamonds to power the suit that kept him alive (while trying to find a cure for his sick wife, Nora).
In the wake of Nora's apparent death at the hands of Batman, Mister Freeze teams with Poison Ivy to turn Gotham City's brand new observatory into a giant freeze ray which he can use to trigger a new Ice Age. And yes, viewers should simply ignore how nonsensical it is that the dispassionate Freeze should suddenly decide to kill the whole world as part of a revenge scheme against one man... and why Poison Ivy would be privy to a scheme to kill every almost every plant on Earth!
A giant freeze ray turns out to be the ultimate endgame of Harley Quinn-- sorry, Marian Drews in Batman: White Knight #6. One of White Knight's subplots has centered around Drews - the second woman to play Harley Quinn after Dr. Harleen Quinzel. Worshiping the chaos The Joker inspired rather than loving the man underneath it, Drews began acting out in an effort to bring back HER Joker following Joker's reformation and his efforts to save Gotham City from an increasingly erratic Batman as Councilman Jack Napier.
Graduating from Harley Quinn to Neo-Joker, Drews has assembled her own gang to assist in bringing Gotham City to its knees and getting back her "Puddin'." The final pages of the issue see the fruits of Neo Joker's efforts over the past few issues (including digging into Mr. Freeze's past), as she activates - you guessed it - a giant freeze ray. The weapon is used to freeze part of the city solid and spell out a message in ice on the side of a skyscraper: "SEND JOKER."
Where Sean Murphy goes from here is anybody's guess, but this issue cements his well-deserved reputation for using multiple, conflicting aspects of the Batman universe to build his alternate-universe Gotham, no matter how nonsensical those elements are. In addition to explaining the two different interpretations of Harley Quinn by other writers, Murphy has also used the White Knight mini-series to tackle serious political issues like police brutality in Gotham City.
Murphy has hinted that the high sales may mean more White Knight volumes in the future, but hopefully DC will sign Murphy to work on one of their regular monthly Batman titles after his stunning artistic turn here. If he can save Batman & Robin... what can't he do?
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