Batman: Beyond the White Knight

Batman: Beyond the White Knight is an American comic book published by DC Comics under its Black Label imprint. The eight-issue limited series—created, written, illustrated and inked by Sean Murphy—began its monthly publication on March 29, 2022 and is scheduled to end at some point in the same year. It is the sequel to both Batman: White Knight (2017–18) and Batman: Curse of the White Knight (2019–20), and is the fifth installment in the Murphyverse, which is set within a self-contained alternate reality that is different from and unrelated to the main DC Universe. It is also an adaptation of the animated television series Batman Beyond (1999–2001), with the plot of the comic book being based on the original premise of the TV show.

Batman: Beyond the White Knight
Batman-BTWK.jpeg
Cover of Batman: Beyond the White Knight #1 (March 2022). Art by Sean Murphy.
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics (Black Label)
ScheduleMonthly
FormatLimited series
GenreCyberpunk
Science fiction
Superhero
Publication dateMarch 2022
No. of issues8
Main character(s)Batman
Bruce Wayne
Jack Napier
Red Hood
Harley Quinn
Dick Grayson
Barbara Gordon
Duke Thomas
Blight
Creative team
Created bySean Murphy
Written bySean Murphy
Artist(s)Sean Murphy
Inker(s)Sean Murphy
Letterer(s)AndWorld Design
Colorist(s)Dave Stewart
Editor(s)Marie Javins (editor-in-chief)
Maggie Howell
Brittany Holzherr
Jillian Grant
Chris Conroy

Batman: Beyond the White Knight takes place 10 years after the events which are described in the previous volume Batman: Curse of the White Knight, which ended with Bruce Wayne exposed as Batman to the general public and donating his entire fortune to the people of Gotham City, and then turning himself in to the police. Since that, the city has evolved into a futuristic megalopolis known as "Neo-Gotham". Following the murder of his father Warren, young Terry McGinnis—under the orders of his employer Derek Powers—steals a technologically advanced Batsuit to become the new Batman and avenge his father's death. At the same time, a middle-aged Bruce escapes from prison in an attempt to rid Neo-Gotham of Batman for good, all while a civil war slowly rages through the city and Powers transforms into the supervillain Blight.

A two-issue spin-off miniseries titled Batman: White Knight Presents: Red Hood will begin publishing on July 26, 2022 and end on August 23, 2022.

SynopsisEdit

SettingEdit

Batman: Beyond the White Knight occurs 10 years succeeding the events of Batman: Curse of the White Knight (2019–20), in which wealthy industrialist Bruce Wayne surrendered to police custody after exposing his secret identity as the vigilante Batman to the public, but not before voluntarily giving his fortune to the people of Gotham City by infusing the money into the city's budget, then dissolving and transforming his own company Wayne Enterprises into various nonprofit organizations, all with the aim of helping to renew the city and help the less fortunate.[1][2] However, Derek Powers, president of a subsidiary of Wayne Enterprises called Wayne Motors, filed a lawsuit against Bruce and managed to acquire all of his family's assets, thus allowing Powers to stop the dissolution of Wayne Enterprises and become its new CEO, thereby rebranding the company as Wayne-Powers Enterprises and preventing any of the charitable organizations Bruce created from having any effect on the city.[2][3][4]

Over the past decade, Powers has used much of Gotham's budget intended to help the city to instead fund the paramilitary police group known as the Gotham Terrorist Oppression Unit (GTO)—led by Commander Dick Grayson, Bruce's second adopted son and former crime-fighting partner Nightwing—providing it with a vast array of high-tech weapons and equipment such as armored uniforms and specialized combat vehicles, all stylized in the likeness of Batman.[2][5] Although the GTO overconsumes Gotham's budget, a portion of the money was still used to tremendously evolve the city into a technologically advanced megalopolis that is currently known as "Neo-Gotham", which has become a GTO-controlled police state that is heavily monitored by surveillance cameras and where crime is virtually non-existent, although tax rates on homelessness, suicides and depression have increased.[6][7] As a result, the once vigilante Batgirl-turned-Commissioner Barbara Gordon and the Gotham City Police Department (GCPD) have severed ties with the GTO and are staunchly opposed to it, with tensions between the two parties slowly building into a civil war in Neo-Gotham.[8] In addition, Bruce continues to serve time at Stonegate Penitentiary, being closely watched by Captain Jason Todd, Bruce's first adopted son and former sidekick Robin, who currently acts in secret as the brutal vigilante Red Hood.[9][10]

PlotEdit

High school student Terry McGinnis is sent by his employer Powers to steal the Beyond suit—a "special" Batsuit created by Bruce years earlier when he was still Batman, but which he never got to wear because it was considered too dangerous—from a historic site where the ruins of Wayne Manor and the Batcave are located. However, Terry is discovered by the site guards and, to avoid getting caught, he dons the Beyond suit, allowing him to beat down the guards and flee the scene. At Stonegate, Bruce prevents Jason from being killed by a prisoner cult called the Sons of Azrael, dedicated to the late terrorist Jean-Paul Valley, in the midst of a riot, which is forcibly stopped with the arrival of the GTO. While escorting him back to his cell, GTO officer Duke Thomas shows Bruce footage of Terry wearing the Beyond suit he stole, and Bruce deduces that Powers is the one behind the robbery. Meanwhile, after a fierce argument with her daughter Jackie, reformed criminal and retired vigilante Harley Quinn discovers that she has run away from home and finds in Jackie's room classified documents regarding Harley's murder of the psychotic criminal Joker.[N 1] Back at Stonegate, Bruce reconciles with Jason before breaking out of prison to put an end to Powers' plans. Upon arriving in Neo-Gotham, Bruce comes across a seemingly resurrected Joker.

A month earlier, Dick and the GTO witness how Terry beats up a criminal known as Mr. Fixx for allegedly murdering Terry's father and Powers' employee and best friend Warren. Dick then intervenes on Terry's behalf and, rather than taking him into custody, introduces him to Powers, who reveals to Terry that Fixx was actually hired to kill Warren. Learning of this fact, Terry agrees to work for Powers in exchange for his help in locating and exacting revenge on those responsible for Warren's death. In the present, the Joker in front of Bruce informs him that he is actually a consciousness-based AI of the real Joker's sane alter ego Jack Napier—Harley's late husband and father to Jackie and her twin brother Bryce. The AI, calling himself "Jack" and appearing to Bruce as a hologram only he can see, explains to him that he is being projected from a microchip inside Bruce's head that was previously inserted by the original Napier following Bruce's first apprehension by the GTO.[N 2] At the GTO headquarters, Duke quits his job upon refusing to obey Dick's order to arrest Jason for letting Bruce escape. While wandering around Neo-Gotham, Bruce is approached by Dick, who he manages to defeat and immobilize with Jack's help. Realizing he lacks resources, Bruce sneaks into an old safe house of his to equip himself, but is confronted by Harley, who has been given the house by him as a dwelling for her and her children.[N 3] Much to Jack's confusion, Harley confesses to being married to Bruce.

ProductionEdit

DevelopmentEdit

 
Sean Murphy, the writer and illustrator of Batman: Beyond the White Knight.

In late November 2018, while working on the limited series Batman: Curse of the White Knight (2019–20), the sequel to Batman: White Knight (2017–18), comic book creator Sean Murphy revealed in an interview with DC Daily host Tiffany Smith that he planned to introduce Terry McGinnis—the successor to Bruce Wayne as Batman in the animated television series Batman Beyond (1999–2001)—to the Murphyverse: "I'd also like to eventually bridge the entire thing series into Batman Beyond. I'm not sure what I'm gonna do with it or how I'm gonna introduce Terry, but I have an idea that will explain why Gotham [City] looks so gothic and Batman Beyond looks so futuristic, and how did this city change so fast. I think I have a way to explain that".[11][12] Later interviews with Graeme McMillan of The Hollywood Reporter and Paul Shirey of JoBlo.com would reinforce the above statement concerning the creation of a sequel based on Batman Beyond.[13][14] In early December 2019, Murphy confirmed on Twitter that he was indeed developing a new installment in the Murphyverse titled Batman: Beyond the White Knight.[15][16][17]

WritingEdit

Speaking with Dustin Holland of Comic Book Resources (CBR) and Matthew Aguilar of ComicBook.com about bringing his own version of Terry McGinnis to Batman: Beyond the White Knight, Murphy emphasized how important it was to him that the character be "unique, but sort of familiar at the same time", with part of his approach to him revolving around introducing Terry as an antagonist at the beginning of the story: "The trick there is like Terry is the antagonist for a bit, but I also don't want to make him a bad guy". Likewise, he simplified that Terry is not an evil person, just someone traumatized by the loss of his father and who is looking for a replacement role model in his life.[18] In this way, Murphy hoped to explore Terry's complex nature and establish an engaging dynamic between him and Bruce, the latter who, in Murphy's words, "ages like a fine wine".[19] Additionally, Terry is depicted as being multiracial (partly of Asian and Irish descent) in this book;[20] this is a creative shift the author made to the character's ethnicity, something that was never addressed or specified by the production team of the original TV show, with many of its viewers assuming Terry was Asian for his physical appearance and Irish for his last name, a fact that Murphy was not initially aware of when he decided to diversify the character.[21][22]

In May 2020, during a meeting with Jeff Spry of Syfy Wire, the author described the latest volume of the Murphyverse as a "sci-fi thriller", with its predecessors being a political thriller (Batman: White Knight) and a historical thriller (Batman: Curse of the White Knight), respectively.[23] Furthermore, Murphy unveiled some plot details for Batman: Beyond the White Knight, while hinting at potential supervillains to make appearances in the volume—such as Derek Powers, the Jokerz and the Royal Flush Gang—who according to Murphy, fit his "grounded" concept of antagonist that he tends to work with;[24][25] he chose Powers due to his own belief that he is "the only logical choice of villain for a Batman Beyond-inspired sequel", and teased that—like the TV series—the book would include Powers' transformation into Blight,[26] a form that has been described as a "glowing skeleton man".[27] To turn Powers into a more empathetic character, Murphy added to him a compelling backstory involving Victor Fries / Mr. Freeze and Thomas Wayne, as well as "a personal grudge between [Powers] and Batman".[5] Later, when asked why he prefers to write about complicated, redeemable antagonists for his stories, Murphy affirmed that it is his own interest in detailing the complexities of each villain that motivates him to portray them as sympathetic characters, regardless of whether the audience is rooting for them or not. He also mentioned that Batman: Beyond the White Knight has a comedic element that none of the other books in the White Knight series have.[19]

Shortly after the announcement of Batman: Beyond the White Knight in December 2021, it was noticed by Jesse Schedeen of IGN midway through an interview how bizarre it seemed that Gotham could progress from "a grungy urban hellscape into the futuristic Neo-Gotham" in the span of a single in-universe decade, and Murphy hinted that this sudden advance would be an important element in the series' plot, responding that "Gotham is able to evolve relatively quickly into Neo-Gotham because Bruce gave his fortune away at the end of [Batman: Curse of the White Knight]. And this influx of money (resources, social programs, etc.) changes everything".[6] In February 2022, Murphy posted pictures of the character Duke Thomas dressed as Robin on Instagram. In the captions alongside the images, he confirmed that Duke would adopt the hero's identity in Batman: Beyond the White Knight, and also clarified that he initially tried to include the idea in earlier volumes of the series, but was unable to do so due to discouragement from his staff.[28]

DesignEdit

 
For the overall look of Terry McGinnis' Beyond Batsuit, Murphy decided not to make any noteworthy changes to its usual black and red design.

To illustrate Terry in the Beyond Batsuit in a way dissimilar to what most artists have done with the character, Murphy used different inking techniques—focusing more on texture than detail—to give the character a unique guise so he would never look twice the same as Batman.[29] Moreover, Murphy likened Terry's black and red Batsuit to the blue and red costume belonging to the Marvel Comics character Spider-Man; he did not want to make any significant changes to the former's design, opining that this particular Batsuit is "so perfect the way it was originally conceived that it's hard to really add stuff to it without mucking it up". Alternatively, Murphy opted to incorporate simple yet small details into the Beyond suit, such as red vents at the elbows, knees and around the chest, for example.[30] As for middle-aged Bruce's Batsuit, Murphy designed a makeshift costume for the character, replacing the cape with a hooded trench coat, spray painting over the bat symbol on the chest, and ditching the cowl, with Murphy arguing that there's no need to hide Bruce's face, as everyone in the book knows he was Batman.[31] Murphy also designed the Batsuit-like uniforms of the GTO members to look like "overbearing RoboCops" in order to contrast those of the GCPD officers, who in the story represent the blue-collar cops as opposed to the "worst version of a police department" that is the GTO.[19][26]

Regarding Neo-Gotham's design, which he integrated with elements of Batman Beyond, Murphy conceded that evolving the book's scenario—from the "gothic, jaded streets of Gotham" of the previous volumes to a "neo-noir nightmare of a not-so-distant utopia"—has been one of the funniest aspects of creating Batman: Beyond the White Knight for him,[32] saying: "I really missed working in Gotham and it feels so great to be back. Drawing Neo-Gotham as an upgraded, retrofitted futurescape has been a blast. I'm working hard to blend the Beyond aesthetic with the White Knight world".[33] He also added—"I'm looking forward to drawing flying cars and all that kind of stuff again. The last time I got to do sci-fi was Tokyo Ghost (2015–16), and I really enjoyed it. So it will be interesting to take that and interpret it through Gotham, of what Gotham will look like in the future".[24] Murphy's desire for Neo-Gotham was to give it a distinct presence, focusing on the roads and highways like veins that enter and leave the city from all directions, and also making sure not to keep Neo-Gotham too clean with elements of future architecture so it wouldn't look like a nighttime equivalent of Metropolis.[26] Ultimately, Murphy analogized Batman: Beyond the White Knight to the Blade Runner franchise, the primary point of comparison being the futuristic setting that both works share, with him asserting that he wanted to design a Blade Runner-like city in Neo-Gotham: "I think every artist sort of wants Blade Runner. I was really looking forward to drawing sort of Blade Runner Batman Beyond, sort of Neo-Gotham".[18]

For Batman Beyond's flying Batmobile, Murphy tried to envision it as a strange spaceship while at the same time still trying to think of it as a car, which was a complicated and unusual process for him as this Batmobile has no wheels and he is used to designing cars with wheels, which is where a car comes to life in his opinion. To help him reshape the vehicle, Murphy made a model out of cardboard, paper, glue and paint, unsuccessfully trying to base the car's design on the one seen in the classic cartoon that, in his own words, "looks like two commas stuck together". Instead, he decided to give the Batmobile's appearance a personal touch, though he claims he did take some inspiration from the TV show.[26] Murphy has also declared that several other iterations of the Batmobile from various Batman-related media would make appearances throughout the series, including the version of the vehicle seen in the animated television show Batman: The Animated Series (1992–95),[34] as well as those featured in the films Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992) by Tim Burton and The Batman (2022) by Matt Reeves.[19]

InfluencesEdit

As the title suggests, the original purpose of the series was to adapt the basic premise of Batman Beyond, with Murphy commenting—"This series is designed to check all the boxes of what readers love about Batman Beyond". However, he decided not to make a straightfoward retelling of the show's storyline, instead focusing on a different approach by reinventing it in order to establish the plot of Batman: Beyond the White Knight as something not only familiar, but unique in relation to the TV series.[5][35] Murphy also teased that "Batman Beyond and Terry McGinnis fans will get everything they loved about the animated series, as well as a few twists".[36] Aside from the TV series, Batman: Beyond the White Knight slightly differently adapts some plot elements from the animated film Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000), such as the eponymous villain of the title having his consciousness transferred into a microchip.[37] As inspiration for Batman: Beyond the White Knight, the author admitted that he took influences from Frank Miller's miniseries The Dark Knight Returns (1986) and several other Batman publications and storylines, not to cite the aforementioned Blade Runner, but also the Marvel character Spider-Man 2099 and the Japanese manga Ghost in the Shell (1989–91) by Masamune Shirow, among others.[6]

PublicationEdit

Batman: Beyond the White Knight was created, written, illustrated and inked by Murphy,[38][39] lettered by AndWorld Design,[40] and colored by Dave Stewart,[41] with DC Comics Editor-in-Chief Marie Javins—as well as Maggie Howell, Brittany Holzherr, Jillian Grant and Chris Conroy—serving as editors for the comic book.[26] As colorist, Stewart replaces Matt Hollingsworth, who previously colored Batman: White Knight and Batman: Curse of the White Knight.[42][43] The fifth installment in the Murphyverse,[44] Batman: Beyond the White Knight was officially announced on December 15, 2021 by Murphy on his Instagram account,[45][46] as a title under DC's Black Label—an imprint designed to allow writers to submit their own unique interpretations of traditional DC Universe (DCU) characters for a more mature audience.[47][48]

Batman: Beyond the White Knight was originally scheduled for release in 2021,[49] but has been pushed back to 2022, with the eight issues released by DC at monthly intervals, the first being published on March 29, 2022.[50][51] However, due to a printing error, the first issue of the comic book had to be reprinted for publication on May 3, 2022.[52][53] A collected edition in prestige format titled Batman: Beyond the White Knight Showcase Edition, containing the first two issues of the series, was released on May 31, 2022.[54] After releasing its fourth issue on June 28, 2022, Batman: Beyond the White Knight will take a two-month break in July and August before resuming publication on September 27, 2022 with its fifth issue.[55]

IssuesEdit

Title Issue Publication date Ref.
"Book One" #1 March 29, 2022 [56]
"Book Two" #2 April 26, 2022 [57]
"Book Three" #3 May 24, 2022 [58]
"Book Four" #4 June 28, 2022 [59]
"Book Five" #5 September 27, 2022 [55]

Collected editionsEdit

Title Format Collected material Pages Publication date Ref.
Batman: Beyond the White Knight Showcase Edition Prestige Batman: Beyond the White Knight #1–2 48 May 31, 2022 [54]

ReceptionEdit

Reviewing the first issue of Batman: Beyond the White Knight, Matthew Aguilar of ComicBook.com wrote: "Batman: Beyond the White Knight #1 captures your attention instantly with its eye-catching visuals, but it's the oh-so-human family dynamics at the center of it all that makes it so damn great. If you've been on the fence as to diving into the White Knight universe, this is the perfect place to start, and if you do you might find yourself jumping all the way in. Trust me, you won't regret it, and I can't wait to see where things go from here".[60] Ray Goldfield of GeekDad gave the second issue of Batman: Beyond the White Knight a score of 8.5 out of 10, commenting that, while the first issue—in his opinion—was almost indistinguishable from the original Batman Beyond animated series, the second issue was able to differentiate itself by presenting some "unique twists" in the mythology originally pertaining to the TV show.[61]

Joshua Lapin-Bertone of DC Comics.com stated that Batman: Beyond the White Knight plays with the concept of "clothes make the man" and how the way people dress contradicts who they really are; Lapin-Bertone argued that Murphy makes use of the characters' shadows to fully embody this idea in the comic book. For example, Bruce Wayne, despite having abandoned his vigilante identity for over a decade in the book, still "embodies Batman in everything he does", with the shape of his shadow corroborating the popular notion of Batman being the character's true self.[62]

Tie-in mediaEdit

In late February 2022, Murphy stated that the eighth and final issue of Batman: Beyond the White Knight would serve as a set up for a Justice League-centric comic book.[63]

FutureEdit

Spin-off seriesEdit

A two-issue spin-off miniseries titled Batman: White Knight Presents: Red Hood—co-written by Murphy and Clay McCormack and illustrated by Simone Di Meo—is scheduled to begin publishing on July 26, 2022 and end on August 23, 2022.[64][65][66] The spin-off is slated to be the sixth installment in the Murphyverse.[67] Batman: White Knight Presents: Red Hood is set to focus on Jason Todd, the eponymous Red Hood of the title, as he joins forces with a young Mongolian girl named Gan to help her protect her neighborhood from Walter Shreeve, the civilian identity of the sound-based supervillain Shriek.[66] At the same time, Jason takes on Gan as his protégée and trains her to become the new Robin.[68][69] Batman: White Knight Presents: Red Hood features Gan, an original character who was created specifically for the miniseries and is unrelated to any other DC characters who have previously taken on the mantle of Robin.[70][71]

SequelEdit

In December 2021, Murphy revealed that he has "at least" one sequel planned for Batman: Beyond the White Knight.[72]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ As depicted in Batman: Curse of the White Knight (2019–20).
  2. ^ As depicted in Batman: White Knight (2017–18).
  3. ^ As depicted in Batman: White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn (2020–21).

ReferencesEdit

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