WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Batman: White Knight #8
The final issue of Batman: White Knight proves once and for all the true romance between The Joker and Harley Quinn. The truth finally comes out when Harleen Quinzel solving the mystery behind the man who was Jack Napier that not even Batman could deduce - and that The Joker had hidden even from himself.
Batman: White Knight is set in an alternate reality (what DC fans call an Elseworlds tale) where The Joker regained his sanity and became a far bigger threat to the status quo of Gotham City as Jack Napier than he ever was as a criminal. Declaring war on the corrupt politicians and police who made Batman necessary, Napier sought to build a better Gotham and win back the heart of Harleen Quinzel - his former psychiatrist, who had once been The Joker's moll, Harley Quinn.
This did not sit well with Marian Drews (the woman who became the second Harley Quinn) who reestablished herself as The Neo Joker in a bid to destroy Gotham City and win back "her Mistah J." It was only after Harley recreated Batman & Robin's freeze ray that Batman was forced to team up with The Joker. And just as Joker was slowly reasserting his control of Jack Napier's body, as the reformed maniac grew resistant to his medication.
At the height of the battle in Batman: White Knight #8, Jack is able to rip control away from The Joker for a moment, in a desperate effort to express his love and admiration for Harleen Quinzel one last time. Jack tells Harleen that only she knew The Joker's darkest secret - that deep down inside him, there really was a good man trying to get out.
This particular phrase may be the most obscure reference in a mini-series chock-full of obscure comic book references. In JLA #35, Hal Jordan - who had just become the host of The Spectre, DC's Spirit of Vengeance - was despairing as to where to draw the line when it came to deciding who should be punished and who should be allowed to live and seek redemption. Martian Manhunter used his telepathy to take Jordan and the rest of the Justice League into a chaotic city of shadowy demons, and guided them to a hidden cave under the city, where the heroes find a kindly man living a simple life. It is ultimately revealed that the kindly man is Joseph Kerr - the persona The Joker briefly adopted in the story Going Sane - and that the twisted city was The Joker's own soul, with a good man trapped in the middle with no way out.
It should be noted that Batman: White Knight has not pulled any punches regarding the classic relationship, and the role mental illness plays in The Joker and Harley Quinn's past. While Jack and Harleen may have found true love in this reality, they are the exception and not the rule. That's made clear in a fight scene between The Two Harleys later in the issue, as Neo Joker accuses Harleen of loving The Joker and not Jack Napier, and being ashamed that someone as smart as her could ever have fallen for an abusive man.
It's frank examinations of these classic characters and their motivations such as these that have made Batman: White Knight into an instant classic - and one of the best graphic novels in recent memory.
Batman: White Knight #8 is now available from DC Comics.
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