A villain like The Joker is too good for just one story, which is why he's about to be cured of his homicidal madness and return to his civilian identity in Batman: White Knight. The groundbreaking new take on Batman's most iconic villain comes from writer/artist Sean Gordon Murphy, in the form of a seven-issue series turning the relationship between the Dark Knight and the Clown Prince of Crime on its head. Batman becomes the true menace of Gotham City... and Joker is simply Jack Napier once more.
It had previously been reported that Joker would be cured and take the name 'Jack' in his new attempts to organize the citizens of Gotham against Batman. But thanks to new details from Murphy himself, it can be confirmed that Joker's 'real' name will carry over the identity of Jack Nicholson's version, seen in Tim Burton's Batman (1989). So... will the rest of the movie villain's origin story be in play?
The announcement came directly from Murphy via Twitter, along with a new piece of artwork showing what looks to be Jack before he's cured. Still Joker, still grinning, and still crying tears of... well, something. We're willing to bet it's tied to his intense obsession with the Batman, whatever emotion you might call it:
Big news: JACK NAPIER will be the name of my JOKER. Warner just approved--1st time Napier has been in a comic (minus Burton adaptations). pic.twitter.com/u4YwZLMmGL
— Sean Gordon Murphy (@Sean_G_Murphy) August 17, 2017
Fans will no doubt thank Warner Bros. for giving the 'okay' to adopt the name Jack Napier from Burton's original story, as it may be the first step in getting the moniker carried over into the main DC continuity. So far, White Knight hasn't been defined as a specific 'Elseworlds' title - and as Murphy as pointed out, big changes to major characters are usually trotted out in self-contained stories such as these. Joker has been referred to as 'Jack' in the past, but with the years between the current era and Alan Moore's popular Killing Joke origin, is it time for a replacement?
It's unclear if the name should be taken as a sign that the character will actually be made in Nicholson and Burton's mold. Murphy will obviously be taking his version of the villain into new territory, performing something of a reverse of the movie: the once-mad Jack has come to his senses. He's reconnected with Harley Quinn and ceased the abuse that defined their relationship, and is campaigning as the hero Gotham really needs. The city's own White Knight.
Regardless of explicit connections or inspirations from the film, Tim Burton and Jack Nicholson did come up with a refreshing backstory for a villain who can easily be portrayed as laughable, or a 'simple' evil. The Jack Napier of Batman (1989) was a formidable, scheming, and ruthless gangster, betrayed by his crime boss before he could make his move to cease control. If Murphy (who confesses he's not a fan of the usual depictions of Joker) is looking to adapt Jack Napier as just as powerful an opponent in a mental, rhetorical, and charismatic sense, then giving him back his sanity is a dangerous move.
Will Batman be able to beat out Jack Napier a second time? Fans will have to read White Knight to see for themselves.
Batman: White Knight #1 will be released on October 4, 2017.
Source: Sean Gordon Murphy