WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Batman: White Knight #7
The latest issue of Batman: White Knight reveals the greatest trick Joker ever pulled on Batman - the "murder" of Jason Todd. Not only the cruelest, ultimate joke the Dark Knight has ever faced, but one that kept his arch-nemesis laughing for all the years since.
Batman: White Knight may be changing the story of Jason Todd, but not or the mainstream DC continuity. For those who don't know. White Knight is set in a reality where miracle drugs cured The Joker's insanity and set the newly reformed Jack Napier on a crusade to rid Gotham City of its corrupt cops and government. Standing in his way is Marian Drews, the second Harley Quinn, who wants her crazed lover back.
Helping him make a new life is the original Harley. The one who finally left Joker when he murdered Jason Todd as part of his obsession with Batman. Or so we thought...
One question that has lurked in the background of Batman: White Knight has been the final fate of Jason Todd - the second Robin, who disappeared mysteriously after being abducted by The Joker several years earlier. Having agreed to a truce in order to deal with Harley Quinn's new identity, Neo-Joker, Batman asks Jack Napier to look into The Joker's memories and tell him what happened to Jason Todd.
Napier agrees - and discovers that The Joker tortured Jason in a bid to learn Batman's secret identity.
The twist comes when Napier realizes once Joker accomplished his mission, he let Jason Todd go. When Batman asks why Jason never returned to him if he really was alive, Jack claims Jason was broken by Bruce Wayne long before Joker kidnapped him. The Joker decided that letting Jason Todd go free, knowing Batman would never believe his chosen protege had faked his own death just to get away from him, was much funnier than simply killing the second Robin.
As has been the case with most of Batman: White Knight's twists, this one paid tribute to another classic Batman story - the animated movie Batman Beyond: Return of The Joker. A flashback in the movie reveals the final fate of the Batman: The Animated Series version of The Joker, who had abducted the Tim Drake Robin and brainwashed him into becoming Joker Junior after forcing him to reveal Batman's secret identity. (The joke would be on The Joker, however, as his adopted son winds up turning on him instead of killing Batman, which had been Joker's ultimate plan.)
Strangely enough, Batman and The Joker's teaming-up in this issue mirrors the events of the conclusion of Dark Knights: Metal - a DC Comics event book which concluded last week. The finale saw Batman and The Joker teaming up to save the Multiverse, which may be every bit as surprising as this revelation of Jason Todd's survival.
But since Jason Todd is now alive and well in the current DC continuity... is it so shocking a twist? Is it one you hope DC carries over to its regular universe, or is this a plot thread left hanging in a possible White Knight sequel series?
Batman: White Knight #7 is now available from DC Comics.